Our lives have gotten crazier and crazier over the past few months and as a result I am quite delinquent on posting the details of our trip to Oahu in early December (I know, shocker!). As a reminder, this trip was prompted by the fact that Ainsley and I had a “free oneway” on our return from Dubai. In short, this free one way was literally just that. We returned from Dubai to New York City in November and it was only $5 and no additional miles to add a connecting flight to Honolulu in December.
Ken and Lachlan didn’t have an outbound ticket and all four of us didn’t have a return, but we had plenty of SingaporeAirlines/United Airlines miles so we were all able to fly in business class in both directions. Our outbound went from Portland to Newark to Honolulu but we had to split up on the return going via Los Angeles/Chicago and San Francisco/Philly. While we weren’t exactly keen on having to split up, it actually worked out quite well. We returned to Portland only 45 minutes apart and Ainsley wasn’t as crazy on the return given that her brother wasn’t there to harass.
In the end, we ended up spending 60,000 Singapore Airline miles for the outbound plus $10 and 80,000 United miles plus $10 on the return for Ken and Lachlan’s tickets. Ainsley and I were covered on the outbound from Newark, but we did have to buy the connecting flight from Portland to Newark. A ticket from Portland to Newark is pretty pricey for such a short flight ($300+ per passenger). However a flight from Portland to Newark to Houston was much cheaper ($140 per passenger). So, we ended up buying two tickets to Houston and not continuing on to Texas once we arrived in Newark. This certainly isn’t condoned by airlines, however, as long as you don’t make a habit of it, attach your frequent flyer number, or check bags, it is a great way to save a little money. For our return, we tied our flights to our April Costa Rica itinerary for a discount. It was 67.5K United miles per passenger for a return from Honolulu plus a round-trip from Portland to Costa Rica. This itinerary should have been 100K miles per passenger if we priced the itineraries separately. We did this by creating a stopover at our home airport in Portland.
In short, we had a blast. It was great fun and great down time. But I’ll never travel again between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanksgiving was “late” this year and we really weren’t able to enjoy the holiday season given that we were preparing for our trip, traveling, and recovering for most of that period.
We ended up staying for 5 nights at the Marriot Beach Club in Ko Olina. It was a great resort and Ko Olina was a great area. Oahu has done a great job of isolating resort areas around the island and Ko Olina was no exception. There were a handful of resorts in the immediate vicinity (JW Marriott, Disney’s Aulani Resort, and other timeshare facilities). The area also had some great restaurants (Monkey Pod was our favorite!), shops, and even a grocery store. That said, Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target were only minutes away and I have to admit that we ended up there for the discounted prices on more than one occasion.
The Marriott Beach Club was nice. We have been spoiled of late with large hotel rooms, great facilities, and great service. The Marriott Beach Club was perfectly adequate for our needs, however, you won’t find it in the luxury category. It is definitely geared towards kids and I’m not sure I could recommend the resort if you don’t have any. They had a man made lagoon that was really calm and peaceful, however, there was no shade and we would have burned in about 15 minutes so we spent most of our time at the sandy bottom pool. Ken and I enjoyed the relaxation out of the sun and the kids really enjoyed being able to wade in and out of the pool versus having to deal with stairs to enter the water.
We actually chose this hotel because I was targeted for the Ritz Carlton credit card (Marriott and Ritz Carlton are partners) with a large bonus which gave us enough points for 5 nights at the Marriott Beach Club at the Point Saver rate. The card came with 140,000 points but did not waive the $395 annual fee. That fee didn’t alarm me too much as you get $200 worth of airline incidentals reimbursed per calendar year so I knew that I’d get $400 ($200 in 2013 and $200 in 2014) towards our award taxes down the road covered. In the end, we couldn’t beat the fact that we stayed 5 nights at an Oahu resort for free.
Given that we got 5 nights for free, we decided to splurge for 2 nights at the Disney Aulani resort next door. The cost for these 2 nights was approximately $330 ($165 per night). It was a great place for the kids and they loved all the pools and activities available. Ainsley also enjoyed the Disney characters while Lachlan’s fear of the characters hit a new level. He now refuses to go anywhere that he might encounter them. I’m hopeful that this phase in his life will pass. His fear was really over the top and really deep.
But we didn’t spend all of our time at the resorts. We did lots of fun things outside of the resorts that I’ll discuss tomorrow!