Family Vacation to Hawaii Part 2 – Our Stay at the Andaz Maui at Wailea

Family Vacation to Hawaii 2017

Part 1 – Airfare

Part 2 – Our stay at the Andaz Maui at Wailea

Part 3 – Good eats and family friendly places around Wailea

Part 4 – Our stay at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki

Part 5 – Good eats and family friendly places on Oahu

Infinity Pools at the Andaz Maui

First let me explain how we booked this hotel using points.  As I had mentioned before in previous posts, I am a Globalist member for World of Hyatt.  That’s the main reason why we stay mostly at Hyatt properties.  I want to maximize what I can get from being a Globalist. Some of the perks include free breakfast, suite upgrade upon check-in if available, late 4 pm check out, four guaranteed suite upgrades a year sometimes even to their Ambassador or Presidential suites.  The breakfast alone saves me at least a thousand dollars a year.  The breakdown goes like this–most hotel breakfasts cost anywhere from $30 to $50 per person so with a family of 4 thats $120 to $200 per day.

We booked the hotel on points alone.  It was 25,000 points per night and with the suite upgrade we would have paid $1100/night including taxes and fees.  That’s a saving of $4400 for 4 nights.  I transferred some Chase Ultimate Reward (UR) points into our Hyatt account to get the 100,000 points total that we needed to redeem our stay.  Hyatt points are valued at 1.9 cents per point but I was able to get more than 5 cents per point out of it ($4400 + $600 for breakfast and free parking).  I say in this instance it was better to redeem using all points rather than pay cash or even cash/points to get the night stay credit.  You just have to do the math to see what is the best value you can get from your UR and Hyatt points.

For Hyatt when you book with all points, all fees and parking fees are waived.  This is one of the new perks to the World of Hyatt program.

Hotel Review

Entrance to the Hotel

Andaz Maui is a 15-acre beachfront property offering a setting directly on Wailea’s shores.  It has 300 spacious guest rooms and suites with ten luxury villas.  It has four cascading infinity pools with a poolside cocktail lounge at each pool.  It has beach activities, spa and recreation including Kayak tours, pilates and yoga classes.  It has five delicious dining options onsite boasting the region’s freshest ingredients.  It’s a beautiful property overall!

When we first pulled up to the hotel, we were greeted with all smiles.  The valet addressed me by my name which was quite impressive because I can see that going very wrong.  We were given leis and were directed to proceed to the hotel lobby.  My oldest was impressed with the water fountains flanking the entrance way.

Hotel Lobby

The hotel lobby was grand and open.  We were immediately greeted by a check-in personnel who asked if we wanted lavender lemonade or iced water.  The lemonade was pretty good.  The check-in process was seamless.  She had informed me that she had upgraded us to a family suite but the room wasn’t quite ready yet.  She asked us to have a seat in the lounge area and just relax.

My girls playing in the sand box adjacent to the check-in counter

My girls quickly found their favorite place as we waited.  They had tons of fun playing in the sand.   The sand was super fine and very clean.  I normally hate sand and don’t like the girls to play in it but this however was a rare exception.

Complimentary necklaces for the girls

While we waited one of the employees came back to check on us to see if we needed more lemonade or water.  Next she came back with a tray of necklaces for the girls to choose from.  My oldest loved it!  My second didn’t care so much for it, she rather play in the sand!

Living room with sofa, dining table and wet bar

When our room was finally ready, we were again escorted by someone to our room.  The room was a pretty good size, about 1000 sq ft. When you first walk in, there’s a living room with a dining table and a wet bar.  They had already set up the rollaway for my daughter.

King bed with a crib

The bedroom had a king bed and they also had set up the crib for us.  There was also a chase in the bedroom for lounging. There were flat screen TVs in both the bedroom and the living room.

What impressed me the most was their customer service and attention to my family.  They obviously noticed that I had kids so milk and cookies and reading material were brought up for the girls on our second night.  The crib was all set up upon arrival with all the children amenities.  The attention to detail was quite remarkable.   It was a pleasant surprise and the girls definitely enjoyed these!

The bathroom had a double sink with a separate toilet room and shower/bath area.  This made using the bathroom a bit more convenient when the toilet is separated from the shower area.

The view from our two balconies. My youngest enjoying the sunset

The suite had 2 balconies.  We were located on the left side of the property on the 5th floor.  It had a full ocean view but unlike the right side of the property where the views were better, our side had a more quieter and serene feel.  I didn’t mind it since I felt like we had our own little corner.   The only draw back is that we also overlooked the villa’s roof tops.

Large main pool located at the bottom of the three infinity pools

The main pool was the 4th pool on the property.  The property has 3 other infinity pools where most of the couples and adults hung out.  The main pool is more known as the family pool.  It’s surrounded by Morimoto restaurant, the beach and a cocktail bar.

Girls playing in the water

The hotel had water toys and floaties for you to borrow but we brought our own floaties.  The girls had a blast in the pool every day!  The temperature was perfect.  It’s not a heated pool but the sun generated enough warmth to keep the water in the 70s.

Daily complimentary fitness classes

The hotel charges a daily resort fee of $35 which includes unlimited access to their fitness classes and use of their equipment.  You can go paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking, etc.  We had the kids so didn’t get a chance to take advantage any of that.  But if you have a chance to enjoy these activities, I highly recommend it!

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The breakfast buffet at Ka’ana Kitchen was probably one of the best buffet breakfast I’ve had at a hotel.  Breakfast is served from 6:30 am to 12 noon. It’s normally $47 for adults and $28 for children from 6-12.  Children under 5 eat free.  There is so much variety that you don’t really get bored.  As a globalist the breakfast is included for up to 4 people. We saved $120 a day (with gratuity) and we stayed 5 days so that’s a $600 in savings.

24 hour market place for snacks, coffee and souvenirs

And if you’re hungry at random times they have a 24 hour market place where you guy buy snacks, gelato, sandwiches.  They also have souvenirs.

Conclusion

Overall our stay was amazing and very relaxing.  The hotel is very family friendly.  I didn’t feel as if they treated families any differently than honeymooners or other couples.  It’s definitely a high end hotel but yet it still has that relaxed vibe to it.  The food options are delicious.  The service was top notch and very attentive.  The room was clean and room service was speedy and reliable.  I think Wailea is definitely more relaxing than Kaanapali.  I would definitely stay in this part of Maui, especially the Andaz again!

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not endorsed by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.  Reader acknowledges that the author gets referral point bonuses for readers using the referral links above.  

 

Family Vacation to Hawaii Part 1 – Airfare

Hawaii is one of our favorite spots to visit since its fairly close and has something for everyone. This time around we only had about one week so we opted not to go anywhere international as it would be too rushed.  Our oldest only has a week off from her preschool so Hawaii was perfect.

View from Hawaiian Airlines window seat

This would be our second trip to Hawaii with both of the girls but our 7th overall trip as a couple.  Our last trip wasn’t so fun as everyone except me got sick and our youngest was only 3 months.  We wanted a redo since last trip was so miserable.

Family Vacation to Hawaii 2017

Part 1 – Airfare

Part 2 – Our stay at the Andaz Maui at Wailea

Part 3 – Good eats and family friendly places around Wailea

Part 4 – Our stay at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki

Part 5 – Good eats and family friendly places on Oahu

In the past we have flown Hawaiian Airlines because they are comfortable and have Extra Comfort seats that allow more leg room especially for a 5 and half hour flight. This time we decided to use some of our Citi Thank You points. Via the Citi Thank You portal, we booked round trip flights from SFO to Maui with an extended layover to Honolulu. The return flight was just from Honolulu back to SFO.

The extended layover in Maui was cheaper than buying a one way from SFO to Maui and then another ticket from Maui to Honolulu. The ticket would have cost about $850/person but we were able to book via Citi Thank You points for 48,000 points each which equates to about 1.78 cents per point.  This is pretty decent considering Citi Thank you points are worth about 1.5 to 1.6 cents per TPG.  You can refer to the Citi Prestige or Premier cards for sign up bonuses.

However, the best way to make use of your Thank You points is to transfer them to one of its partners for redemption. listed below. Sometimes you can get up to $0.10 per point, such as booking Singapore Suites.

  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Asia Miles
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Air
  • Air France and KLM Flying Blue
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Jet Airways JetPrivilege
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Royal Orchid Plus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Hilton Honors

They transfer at a 1:1 ratio.  I checked on some of these and it was easier for me to just book the flights straight from Citi.

Enough room to for my youngest to sleep

We were able to get Hawaiian Airline’s Extra Comfort seats which were pretty nice.  They came with 6 more inches of leg room, personal electrical outlet, priority boarding and priority security line and a personal entertainment.   I would highly recommend flying either Hawaiian Airlines or Alaska Airlines which now includes the Virgin America fleet.

Stay tuned for Part 2 for my review of the Andaz at Wailea.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not endorsed by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.  Reader acknowledges that the author gets referral point bonuses for readers using the referral links above.  

Maximizing points and credit card sign ups for a trip to Hawaii

I recently received a great question from a friend. She wanted to take her family to Hawaii next year and wanted to know a good game plan. I think Hawaii is an awesome place for vacation, regardless if you have kids or not. There is so much good food and the beaches are amazing. Island life has a very chill atmosphere plus the weather is fantastic! The 5.5 hour flight is manageable if you’re traveling with little ones.

My eldest sipping POG juice while enjoying the view from our balcony when we stayed at the Hyatt Residence Maui in Spring of 2016.

Hawaii has always been one of our favorite destinations. We try to go once a year if we can since its a no fuss kind of place. I’m going to break this post down into two parts: airfare  and hotels but focusing more on airfare.

Airfare

I found airfare to range from $400 to $700 throughout the year. Sometimes airlines will have sales and you can score flights for $300 per person. There are so many options for you to score free or almost free tickets for Hawaii. If you have Chase points then you can transfer Chase Ultimate Reward points to their various airline partners listed below:

Chase Ultimate Reward Airline Transfer Partners

Transfer PartnersTransfer TimePoint Transfer Ratio
British AirwaysInstantaneous1:1
Fly Blue (Air France/KLM)Instantaneous1:1
Korean AirInstantaneous1:1
Singapore AirlinesSame Day1:1
SouthwestInstantaneous1:1
UnitedInstantaneous1:1
Virgin AtlanticInstantaneous1:1

The only issue with doing this is that some of these transfer partners require a lot of points to redeem a free flight. United, for example requires 45,000 points for basic economy. Chase points is valued at 2.2 cents per point by The Points Guy. So if you transfer 45,000 points to United, you’re only getting 1.1 cents per point ($509 roundtrip ticket/45,000 points). That’s not a good deal. I would save those Chase points for something else such as transferring to their hotel partners, Hyatt and Marriott.

A second option would be to book directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal and get about 1.5 cents per point. This however is better than the previous option but still not that great. This may be a great idea if you’re booking a last minute flight and don’t want to pay top dollar.

The options that I would suggest include:

Southwest Airlines

The Southwest Companion Pass is a great option if you fly a lot of Southwest. You need to earn 110,000 Southwest Rapid Reward points in order to get your Companion Pass.

The pass is valid for the rest of the year in which you earn it plus the entire following year. That means that you could get nearly two years of use out of it by meeting the requirements in early 2017. That’s a two year value where someone in your family can fly for free with a purchase of another ticket every time!

Here’s how Southwest defines which points will count towards this minimum:

“Companion Pass Qualifying Points are earned from your revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, your points earned by making purchases with a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Card, and your base points earned from Rapid Rewards partners.”

There are currently two different Southwest cards out there with varying sign-up bonuses that can help you achieve the 110,000 points you need for the Companion Pass:

With both credit card sign up bonuses, you will accumulate 100,000 and plus the $5000 minimum spend, you will net you a total of 106,000 points, which leaves you 4,000 points shy. You would have to spend another $4000 to get to the 110,000. Do keep in mind that both cards come with a $99 annual fee.   These two cards option only make sense if you are able to meet the spend limit.  Don’t get the cards if you can’t meet the spend or have to spend beyond your means to get it.  That just wouldn’t make sense.  I always advise people to be financially responsible.

Alaska Airlines

Signing up for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card and/or the Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card. Both cards come with a reasonable $75 annual fee. I chose this over Southwest mainly because I’ve had such bad experiences due to delays and cancellations with Southwest that I haven’t flown them for almost 4 years. This option is a little easier to obtain but not as lucrative as the Southwest Companion Pass.   Here are the perks for both of these cards:

  1. Alaska’s famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 base fare plus taxes and fees from $22) every year on your account anniversary for Alaska and Virgin America flights booking on alaskaair.com with no blackout dates.
  2. Free checked bag on Alaska and Virgin America flights for you and up to six other passengers on the same reservation.
  3. Earn 3 miles for every $1 spent directly with Alaska Airlines and Virgin America purchases.
  4. Earn 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  5. No foreign transaction fees, plus chip enabled for enhanced security when used at chip-enabled terminals.
  6. No mileage cap.
  7. Miles won’t expire on your active account.
  8. 30,000 sign up bonus after meeting minimum $1,000 spend within the first 3 months
  9. Low Annual fee of $75

The key benefit to note here is the $121 companion pass. Southwest does have a more attractive deal of free companion pass each time you fly but this only pans out if you fly Southwest and like flying Southwest. Alaska airlines offers the once a year $121 companion pass. I also like Alaska because it partners with Virgin America, one of my favorite domestic airlines. The $121 companion pass is pretty lucrative if you use it towards a long distance trip such as SFO-JFK or SFO-HNL. Aside from Virgin American being its travel partner, Alaska Airline points are quite valuable. You can use them across multiple carriers such as Emirates, Cathay, JAL, American Airlines and many more.  If you do decide to get these cards, please contact me for the referral email.  

And if you do sign up for both cards, you will get TWO companion passes to use each year.

Hotels

After you’ve decided on how to get your family to Hawaii then you’ll need a place to stay. There are a lot of options available depending on which island you are going to. On Maui, we have stayed at the Hyatt Residence and come August we’ll be staying at the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort.  I’ll post a hotel review once we check it out.   On Oahu, we’ve stayed at the Sheraton Waikiki and The Royal Hawaiian.  Both of these hotels are on located right on Waikiki beach and is central to shopping and food and activities in Honolulu.  I can talk more about these hotels in another post if anyone is interested, otherwise I won’t go into details in this post.

 

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not endorsed by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.