This post is written by Blogger Daughter:
My husband and I travelled to Hawaii for our first time in February 2012. It was so stunning, and such a special time for us. We truly had a blast. The entire time we promised ourselves that we would go back. At the time we thought it would be in 10 years when our kids are old enough to appreciate the trip and the beauty that is Hawaii.
We were wrong. We went back this past February for a “babymoon”. For those who may not be familiar with that term, a “babymoon” is a newer trend where expectant parents take a last vacation before the little one arrives. That is a trend that I am more than happy to jump on the bandwagon for. The funny thing is, we went there at the exact same time as we went last year. It worked out this way because I would be in my second trimester in February (which is a great time to travel for pregnant women) and I would also get a day off from work from President’s Day. Besides, this way we can say we’ve gone to Hawaii twice in the same year. We like to pretend we’re ballers.
In actuality, it didn’t cost us that much. We had enough Ultimate Reward point that we transferred to United Airline miles to pay for one ticket and we had enough Marriott points to pay for 10 nights. But more on that later.
So why Hawaii again? We did think about all our options. We wanted somewhere where we could use our Marriott points to keep the expenses way down. We also wanted somewhere we couldn’t go easily once we have kids…you know, as a getaway for the two of us. We knew once we have children we won’t want to fly 11 hours away. Also, you can’t do Hawaii in a long weekend or even a week from the East Coast where we live, you need longer. If you bring the kids with you, you want them to be old enough to remember it. We also wanted a location where there were fun activities to do but also relaxing, Remember I was pregnant. That took Europe out. So Hawaii it was! The first time we visited the Big Island and Maui. We loved them both. Since there was so much to do and experience on the Big Island that we didn’t do the first time, we decided to visit that island again and Kauai.
The decision was made. Then it was time to actually book the travel. We have been Marriott credit card holders for about six or seven years now. My husband’s work allows him to put his hotel stays for business on a personal card and they partner with Marriott. It made sense for us to get a Marriott credit card. We’ve been loyal to them since we got the card. They were definitely our first-in-wallet credit card. Well, we were loyal until my mom started learning about all these points and rewards and passing down some of the information to her kids. Now we have multiple credit cards but still use our Marriott a lot. To us, it was more beneficial to have our hotel nights free when we travel versus a free flight. Free flights are great however they require more rewards so you don’t get to redeem as often. We redeem for free nights fairly often with Marriott. With Marriott, if you stay four nights you get the fifth night free. It was a no brainer that we would stay on each island for five nights with a total of ten nights in Hawaii, for the “cost” of eight.
The resort we stayed on the Big Island was the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. Marriott recently changed the levels of the hotels but this in February it cost us 100,000 points at this hotel ( I believe it is now 120,000). The resort on Kauai was the Kaua’I Marriott Resort and when we stayed it was 120,000 points, now 140,000 points.
This year we reached Platinum level with Marriott (the highest level) which made my husband very happy. I wasn’t aware that this was apparently a goal of his. With that comes automatic room upgrade if available. Unfortunately both resorts were at full capacity so we didn’t a room upgrade at either. We did however get a room upgrade the first time we went and it was great. We had a corner room so it was massive, just so much space. Even without the room upgrade the rooms are very spacious and very well decorated. We didn’t pay for an ocean view for either of them but could see the water at both.
We really love the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa on the Big Island because it’s not too large and between the resort/pool area and the ocean is a wildlife refuge of sorts -this larger area has tidal ponds, lava rocks and paths to explore. Once you get to the ocean you can walk along the beach in either direction for a peaceful, secluded walk. The area does not have other resorts next door like they often do. Some of our favorite mornings were just talking a walk on the lava rocks watching surfers and keeping an eye out for whales while ogling at gorgeous houses we would see. Another plus was that we were within walking distance of an outdoor mall complete with a high end grocery store, shops and restaurants.
The resort on Kauai was also very nice. The view was spectacular and like the resort on the Big Island, it did not have resorts right next door. They had a good number of restaurants in walking distance. The beach was good with plenty of sand and we were protected in a bit of a cove. The pool area had a bit of a Grecian feel to it. Overall you could tell that this was a higher level resort. It was much larger and just more upscale. Even with the nicer feel, I’m partial to the resort on the Big Island.
As I mentioned earlier, we used points to “pay” for one of our flights. We had signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card after talking to my mom about it. With the sign up bonus and our usage, we had enough to cover one of our tickets. We transferred the points to United and redeemed 40,000 for a non-stop round trip ticket from Washington Dulles to Honolulu. This vacation was barely costing us anything. Okay well maybe that’s not true. We still had food, rental car, spending money, and resort fees to pay for (yes, Marriott charges those).
Our time on both islands was an absolute blast. We spent our time exploring remote beaches, going on some picturesque hikes, visiting a volcano and numerous waterfalls, sea turtle and whale watching, visiting the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, taking a helicopter tour, and enjoying some great food. Overall, a perfect vacation with my sweet husband.
To read more about their babymoon, head on over to their blog “Life as a Liberati”
UPDATE: Blogger Daughter and her husband welcomed a son the beginning of June. Here is a photo of the little guy: