Introduction: A Quick Jaunt To Hawaii

Introduction: A Quick Jaunt To Hawaii

44

I’m making an effort to write as many trip reports as possible. I just wrapped up the report for our journey to Oman, so it’s time for the review of a trip we took just a few days later, to Hawaii. This will be a relatively short series, but should (hopefully) have some interesting flight and hotel reviews.

Why we decided to travel to Hawaii

Ford and I both love Hawaii. I know it’s cliche, but the state has so much to offer, including several islands with a huge amount of natural beauty and diversity. There are still some challenges to international travel nowadays, so there’s something to be said for traveling domestically, as it’s still quite a bit easier. Furthermore, Hawaii has dropped its testing requirement for vaccinated travelers (and will soon drop all domestic travel requirements), which is great.

We last traveled to Hawaii in May 2021, and stayed at the new Andaz Maui villas, plus the Four Seasons Maui. Our goal with this trip was to check out two new hotels, which I’ll outline below. It was also my first time visiting the Big Island, so I was looking forward to that.

This was my first time visiting the Big Island

The airlines we flew

To get to Honolulu, we flew American Airlines from Tampa to Honolulu via Los Angeles, with both flights being on Airbus A321neos. While hardly the most exciting product in the world, I haven’t reviewed American’s A321neo first class. I figured some readers might find that interesting, especially with American having recently improved meal service in first class on more routes.

American Airlines A321neo first class

Then to get from Honolulu to Kona we flew with Hawaiian Airlines. While Hawaiian primarily uses Boeing 717s for inter-island flights, we lucked out and managed to book an Airbus A321neo. I’ve been curious to check out this first class product, given that it’s also offered to the mainland, even if this was a very short flight on which to try the plane.

Hawaiian Airlines A321neo first class

Upon returning to the mainland we first had to fly to Boston (due to a commitment here), so we ended up flying United from Kona to Chicago to Boston, with the first flight on a Boeing 787-9, and the second flight on a Boeing 737 MAX 9. I was excited to check out both of those products, and found the 737 MAX 9 product to be particularly interesting.

United 787-9 in Kona
United Airlines 737 MAX 9 first class

In the individual review posts I’ll share how I booked each of these flights.

The hotels we stayed at

We stayed at three hotels during this trip. When we were flying from Tampa to Honolulu we had an overnight at LAX, which was a great opportunity to check out the Hyatt Regency LAX. I last stayed at this hotel when it was still the Concourse Hotel LAX, before it got the full Hyatt Regency branding. I was curious to see how much had changed.

Hyatt Regency LAX room

Next up we spent a couple of nights at the Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina. This is one of the often overlooked Four Seasons properties in Hawaii. It has the benefit of being located on Oahu, under a 30 minute drive from Honolulu Airport, making it a very convenient option for travelers.

Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina pool

Next we headed to the Big Island, and stayed at what might just be Four Seasons’ most well regarded island property, the Four Seasons Hualalai. I had never been to the Big Island before, and was happy to finally have the opportunity to check it out.

Four Seasons Hualalai pool

I’ll have detailed reviews of both Four Seasons Hawaii properties we stayed at, complementing the reviews I’ve written of the Four Seasons Lanai and Four Seasons Maui.

A few things to note about the focus on Four Seasons reviews in Hawaii:

  • I know a lot of people are interested in reviews of points hotels, and I completely get that, and I hope you at least enjoy the flight reviews; I’m making an effort to review more aspirational points hotels, and will continue to do so (for example, I just reviewed Alila Hinu Bay and Alila Jabal Akhdar, and will soon check out the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, Gritti Palace Venice, Domes Miramare Corfu, and more, so this is very much a focus for me)
  • The main reasons for these Four Seasons Hawaii reviews it that Ford books a lot of clients at Four Seasons’ Hawaii properties, but hadn’t yet visited these two properties, so they seemed worth checking out
  • There are all kinds of people in the miles & points world — some like to use rewards points for everything, while some like to use rewards for flights so that they can spend more at hotels (and many people love Four Seasons for the consistently great guest experience that the brand offers)

Bottom line

We just wrapped up an awesome trip to Hawaii, which continues to be one of my favorite places to visit. You can expect reviews of premium cabins on American, Hawaiian, and United, a review of the Hyatt Regency LAX, and reviews of the Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina and Four Seasons Hualalai.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!

Conversations (44)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. Aut Guest

    Hawaiian is by far the worst airline I have ever traveled with. Cancellation for no reason a month before trip. Cancellation once at airport. Then had to return to a different airport then my original home destination. Wouldn’t fly them for free.

  2. Larry Blanch Guest

    How about a review of those expensive rental cars?

  3. Mark Wellis Guest

    I am still waiting for a honest review of the quality inn in Parker Arizona, you snob

  4. Walester Guest

    What! You and Ford came to the Big Island and didn’t drop by to visit your eldergay brothers who have happily retired here ??? Lucky, it’s a small world, and you and Ford need to leverage your travel and venture out beyond the Four Seasons Hualalei to see how the real people live. Seriously, I’m the son of Delta Airlines longest employee (date of hire 1941) and a real travel geek. We could have shared...

    What! You and Ford came to the Big Island and didn’t drop by to visit your eldergay brothers who have happily retired here ??? Lucky, it’s a small world, and you and Ford need to leverage your travel and venture out beyond the Four Seasons Hualalei to see how the real people live. Seriously, I’m the son of Delta Airlines longest employee (date of hire 1941) and a real travel geek. We could have shared stories for hours on our beautiful lanai at 1100 feet up Moana Loa. Opportunity missed.

    Bill & Gary

  5. John Guest

    Agree with Steve, good to see more reviews of hotels that aren’t points hotels. Have always found the flight reviews helpful, but not many points hotels I would actually consider staying at.

  6. Schar Member

    Very excited for these reviews! Just a couple questions:
    1) Were you able to try the LAXit process for arriving/departures?
    2) Did you utilize PS LAX for either a Suite or The Salon? I'd love to see you review the service. If not, keep it in your radar to review it next time you fly through LAX!

  7. Randy Gold

    Surprising this is your first time on an AA 321Neo. Very common aircraft - seems like 50% of my AA are on one. Even flown one from DCA-TPA.

    My objection is the F pitch is too tight. Exit row is much better.

  8. D3Kingg Guest

    Why didn’t you fly thru DFW and get a lie flat seat ? Used miles or your systemwide upgrades cleared? I doubt I’ll clear an upgrade from Dfw to Hnl next month with a platinum pro SWU.

    You must have another good Uber story. How did you get from LAX to Hyatt Regency ? Walk ? Take the LAXit shuttle to the Uber /Lyft lot and then cross the street ? Or take an Uber ? I’m dying to know. My salvation depends on it. Lol

    1. Jerry Diamond

      They paid cash and it was a better price through LAX.

  9. Stuart Guest

    Given the rates in Hawaii these days it's pretty astounding you were able to afford it. I looked at FS on the Big Island (settled on Mauna Kea for points) and it was over $2K a night. In December, when things are pre-holiday and cheaper I booked the Ritz C at Waikiki for work related stuff as the FS was, again, over $2K a night. Business must be good at OMAAT!

  10. C. Weston Guest

    We were "upgraded" to a partial parking lot/partial ocean view from our booked Ocean Front room through the AMEX Fine Hotels and Resorts Program. They explained it was a superior room for some crazy reason. We politely declined. We will politely will not be returning.

  11. FLLFLYER Guest

    I just missed you at the Four Seasons Ko Olina - we were staying in HNL but went there for lunch. Beautiful property but I found it a bit remote. Great of you are looking for a beautiful beach and peace and quiet I suppose.

    I can't imagine there is much to do there in the evenings.

    The property looks beautiful. Lunch was just OK, nothing very inspiring. Looking forward to reading your review.

    1. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

      FYI, it was built as a JW Marriott.

  12. Cynthia E Childress Guest

    Glad you had a great time. But in the future, please share some info about AFFORDABLE HOTELS, would you? You chose two of the MOST EXPENSIVE places to stay on the any Island!
    And if you can get to the Ko’olina in 30 min from HNL, you must have taken a HELICOPTER at any time of the day or night traffic is NEVER THAT LIGHT!

    1. CSR 2.0 Guest

      Cynthia....he's rich lol

    2. Jcil Guest

      He loves to be pampered and will not deign to stay at less than a 5 star property anymore. Just shows how much $ there is in hawking credit cards. Next step in the progression will be reviews on private jet rental outfits.

    3. D3kingg Guest

      All these shills. Ben must have amassed millions of points and miles with every airline and program possible. It’s a luxury blog. That’s what he likes. So what some people can afford $800 a night hotels. Why do you care ?

    4. Andy 11235 Guest

      It's a lot easier to afford these hotels when they can be written off as business expenses. Honestly I just chuckle when I see comments about "great deals" like getting a $27 buffet breakfast included in a $400/night stay, or "reasonable" prices at hotel restaurants or spas. We have had tremendously enjoyable stays at the likes of a holiday inn express, but that said, OMAT's niche is in destination hotels, not hotels at a destination.

    5. Chris W Guest

      totally not accurate - we left HNL in a rental car and pulled into the parking lot of Aulani last month in 27 minutes. Went out there for lunch and do a bit of shopping, traffic was light.

  13. jfk2sfo Guest

    Make sure to try out the Four Seasons properties on Lanai next time. Probably the best ones in all of the Hawaiian islands - and so different between the former "Lodge" up the hill vs the "Bay" resort on the water.

    1. Mark P Member

      Ben stayed at the Four Seasons Lanai already, the review is linked in this post.

  14. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

    The Four Seasons in that part of Oahu used to be a JW Marriott, which is an interesting conversion property.

    I'm a little disappointed you didn't stay at the Halekulani. It is the best hotel on Oahu. Legit 5 stars.

  15. Steve Diamond

    Just my two cents but i want more "aspirational" and non-points reviews like these. In today's age we have plenty of information on how to book a hotel with points and there are 100s of reviews albeit non as good or detailed as yours on many good points properties but barely any on places like these. I think you find the good balance between points and non point hotels so i wouldnt change a thing.

    1. Morgan Gold

      Echoes exactly what I was going to comment on - 100% agree!

  16. Jimmy’s Travel Report Gold

    My wife and I really enjoy the big Island, and stayed at the Westin spring 2021. Hapuna beach is incredible, the Westin not so much. We find the culinary scene in the Kona area is pretty amazing - I’m looking forward to your perspective. The big Island has so much to offer in the way things to explore and see.

    1. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

      I stayed at the Westin Hapuna on the Big Island in August 2018 for two weeks. It wasn't long after the property first opened as a Westin. It was also in the middle of the merger of Marriott Reward, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and SPG into a single loyalty program. I loved the beach and found the property comfortable, but:

      1) The construction for timeshares was absurd. Basically, the best part of the property was spun-off as...

      I stayed at the Westin Hapuna on the Big Island in August 2018 for two weeks. It wasn't long after the property first opened as a Westin. It was also in the middle of the merger of Marriott Reward, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and SPG into a single loyalty program. I loved the beach and found the property comfortable, but:

      1) The construction for timeshares was absurd. Basically, the best part of the property was spun-off as timeshares at the time of the property's conversion to Westin. Even thought he timeshare company was connected to the hotel, the hotel washed their hands of it and continued booking guests into rooms next to an active construction site. The noise was unbearable.

      2) The food and beverage options were horrible. A pool bar, one restaurant, a lobby bar and a breakfast restaurant. That was it. Considering the hotel's relatively isolated location, you would have expected one or two more restaurants on the property. There wasn't anything fine dining, either. It was all very casual food.

      3) Very poor elite recognition. Not even an in-room amenity as an ambassador even though I brought the hotel a group of 20 rooms.

      I loved the views and I loved driving around the Big Hawaii. But I wouldn't go back on my own money.

    2. Steve Guest

      I stayed at the Westin Hapuna Beach in December 2020 just shortly after Hawaii reopened for my birthday and had a wonderful time. On my birthday I had a scenic (and tasty) dinner at the restaurant right by the beach. We also ordered room service for breakfast and it was delivered very professionally and Türen out to be of good quality.

      The construction of the time shares was already complete. I recall that the...

      I stayed at the Westin Hapuna Beach in December 2020 just shortly after Hawaii reopened for my birthday and had a wonderful time. On my birthday I had a scenic (and tasty) dinner at the restaurant right by the beach. We also ordered room service for breakfast and it was delivered very professionally and Türen out to be of good quality.

      The construction of the time shares was already complete. I recall that the buildings used for the time share probably have the best view of the ocean.

    3. Pam Guest

      I have stayed at the 4s & the rest of the BI 5*s. My favorite property on the island is the Mauna Kea, so refined on a perfect white-sand crescent beach. Also my overall fav Bonvoy redemption.

      Looking forward to Rosewood opening in 2023 on the site of the former Kona Village resort (next to the 4S).

  17. George Romey Guest

    Years ago I did a same day MR run from NYC to Honolulu when status was by miles solely. I remember at the time the old AA AC had one shower and to get to the AC you had to walk outside and down this airport road. Really bizarre.

    Went back to Honolulu a few years after for a real stay and realized nothing that keenly interested me. Now Maui (which I've visited 5-6 times) is definitely a return trip for me

  18. David Guest

    I understand that the Four Seasons Hualalai a/c is pretty weak and only gets down to 68 deg F/20 deg C.

    1. DLPTATL Guest

      That is some deep knowledge on the FS Hualalai. What is the minimum temp the other FS's in Hawaii can hit?

    2. Steve Guest

      Who wants to travel to Hawaii to stay in an ice cold room ? Unusually the first thing I do is to turn off the AC and enjoy the nice ocean breeze with open windows.

      Even with the AC, 68F is already quite cold.

    3. (Not the same) David Guest

      You could always ask them to make room for you in the fridge.

  19. pstm91 Diamond

    For anyone who complains about these reviews not being points properties - Four Seasons really is in a class of it's own in Hawaii. There's a 1 Hotel in Kauai, but that is brand new, and then there are some classics like Halekulani, but those types of properties tend to need updates badly. FS provides by far the best experience across the islands and it's not particularly close. To your point about how Oahu gets...

    For anyone who complains about these reviews not being points properties - Four Seasons really is in a class of it's own in Hawaii. There's a 1 Hotel in Kauai, but that is brand new, and then there are some classics like Halekulani, but those types of properties tend to need updates badly. FS provides by far the best experience across the islands and it's not particularly close. To your point about how Oahu gets overlooked, I think Honolulu is overlooked because it's all highrises and people aren't really traveling to HI to spend time in/near a city.

    1. BKAloha Guest

      The Halekulani was recently renovated. I'm heading there in May and can't wait to see how it's been updated. I think it's a great place to stay, but it really was in need of a renovation.

    2. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

      Halekulani is the best hotel on Oahu and, arguably, one of the best in the United States. The Japanese attention to details and level of service is incredible. I love going to L'Aperitif, which is inspired by the Ritz in Paris. It may be the only bar and restaurant left in Honolulu that requires a jacket for men at night.

    3. pstm91 Diamond

      Great to know it was renovated! It is so gorgeous and it was overdue, so I am very excited to hear that.

  20. Austin787 New Member

    I hope you got to see the Kīlauea Volcano eruption. It's a rare opportunity to watch an erupting volcano in person.

  21. BKAloha Guest

    I love Hualalai. It seems like FS Napa copied their design? Hualailai Grille was the low point.

    I think that Wailea may be favorite especially because of the staff. I haven't tried Oahu yet, but ate at Noe, which was really good.

    You have to go back and review Sensai Lanai (I stayed there when it was a Starwood property and $365 per night)... I just can't with their crazy prices lately ie...

    I love Hualalai. It seems like FS Napa copied their design? Hualailai Grille was the low point.

    I think that Wailea may be favorite especially because of the staff. I haven't tried Oahu yet, but ate at Noe, which was really good.

    You have to go back and review Sensai Lanai (I stayed there when it was a Starwood property and $365 per night)... I just can't with their crazy prices lately ie FS NAPA, $1800 on 2/27/22.

    Speaking of the Hyatt LAX, I'll be there in May and can't wait to read your review.

  22. Zach Guest

    Too funny…last night we booked a similar trip to Hawaii flying American on the way out, overnighting at LAX and returning on United through Chicago (each Polaris seat is $1200 less expensive than American’s lie-flats through DFW). Looking forward to your reviews.

  23. JD Guest

    Looking forward to reading these reviews, as I just returned from the Big Island and spent a few nights at the Four Seasons Hualalai. as well (and the Mauna Lani). Can't wait to see what you thought and compare.

  24. Bill n DC Gold

    Hope you did a Helicopter tour of the Big Island. Definitely the highlight of my 2018 Retirement trip.
    We stayed at the Fairmont Orchid in a club room. Very nice. I had always wanted to stay there since the property opened and I liked the architecture :-)

  25. Anthony Diamond

    There is no issue reviewing non points hotels as long as there is a diversity of reviews. Keep the Four Seasons and boutique hotel reviews coming. I guess what I would be interested in hearing is would you ever recommend people redeeming points for these hotels via Chase travel portal, Venture X redemptions, even MR points redeemed via Amex travel or are you still a 100% points transfer to loyalty program guy

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Steve Diamond

Just my two cents but i want more "aspirational" and non-points reviews like these. In today's age we have plenty of information on how to book a hotel with points and there are 100s of reviews albeit non as good or detailed as yours on many good points properties but barely any on places like these. I think you find the good balance between points and non point hotels so i wouldnt change a thing.

6
Nick Guest

Is that a real comment?…if so, wow!

2
Andy 11235 Guest

It's a lot easier to afford these hotels when they can be written off as business expenses. Honestly I just chuckle when I see comments about "great deals" like getting a $27 buffet breakfast included in a $400/night stay, or "reasonable" prices at hotel restaurants or spas. We have had tremendously enjoyable stays at the likes of a holiday inn express, but that said, OMAT's niche is in destination hotels, not hotels at a destination.

1
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,523,713 Miles Traveled

25,807,500 Words Written

28,675 Posts Published