~Guest Post by Flynn~
Brian and James were nice enough to ask me to share a post about my recent honeymoon. My husband and I went to Hawaii for two weeks with a quick stop in San Francisco en route and had an amazing time. I hope some of my hotel, flight, and travel experiences may help anyone interested in going to Kauai or Maui in the near future!
San Francisco Stop En Route
We spent the first night of our trip at the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill to break up the trip and see some friends. We had drinks at the Top of the Mark, the amazing rooftop bar at the neighboring Intercontinental Hotel. Then we had a fabulous Italian dinner at Venticello on Nob Hill. The cable cars still drive by there at night and the owner was very pleasant. Excellent squid ink risotto and black kale salad to start!
This Fairmont property has a great city location within walking distance to the Embarcadero and other neighborhoods of San Francisco. If you plan to stay at a Fairmont property, make sure you sign up for their complimentary Presidents Club program. It is a program that gets you free benefits during your stay, as well as allows you earn credit for future free hotel stays. Some common benefits are free WiFi, newspaper, phone calls, shoe shine, and complimentary gym entry (the San Francisco property charges $15 for non-club members and had a steam/sauna/full work out equipment). Certain properties give you free golf clubs to use, free workout clothes so you don’t have to pack your own, and bikes if available at the hotel. You also often receive 10% off spa treatments, which essentially covers some of gratuity on a massage or facial. To sign up and learn more see use this link to Fairmont’s website.
Next Stop Kauai – Aloha!
The next day we flew from San Francisco to Kauai; United has direct flights landing at noon. We were delayed 90 minutes out of SFO, so in the future I would fly through nearby Oakland en route to Hawaii. This tip was provided by a local Hawaiian I met who said the fog always delays flights in and out of San Francisco but spares Oakland.
In Kauai, we stayed at the Grand Hyatt in Poipu, the southern part of the island, for our first four nights. The Grand Hyatt is on Shipwreck’s beach and is a massive property. We used points to stay for four nights for free by using our Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa points and transferring them to Hyatt. This was a tip I learned from the famous TripBadger, Brian. It was 20,000 per night and we had a very spacious room with a view of the ocean, private lanai, and large bathroom.
We told Hyatt that it was our honeymoon and included our Hyatt Gold number when booking. As honeymooners, we received the following: bottle of sparkling wine in the room, free dessert at any restaurant with dinner purchase, free beachfront or lagoon pool cabana for the day ($50-75 daily rental rate), and 15% off the spa. They really provide a nice experience for honeymooners, and if you do go, we highly recommend the Hyatt. We had spa access with our rate (not sure how we got this) so we would use that private pool, steam, sauna and showers daily. They had fruit, granola, and juices every morning (tip for some free breakfast nibbles).
After spending four nights here we drove north to the Princeville St Regis overlooking Hanalei Bay. This is my most favorite Hawaiian hotel if not hotel ever! We booked this with our American Express Platinum card at amazing rate, only $408 per night. We were greeted with fresh water, leis and upon check in the hotel staff immediately knew that we were to receive Platinum card benefits. We were upgraded to one of their 50 suites that included butler service. This is a luxurious benefit through the St. Regis where your room is given a butler who can attend to any need 24 hours per day. They provide complimentary French press coffee or tea at any hour, free pressing, shoe shine, and local intel on the island. They hand you their card with an email ending in an “At Your Service” address and you can email them from the beach to draw your bath, also they will pack and unpack you during your stay. As this was compliments of our Platinum card upgrade we were thrilled! I didn’t need to be unpacked, but our first morning there we did call for the French press coffee that was so tasty and strong. Our butler, Andrew, was so nice and helped us learn about local beaches for surfing.
Aside from the butler service, the hotel is amazing and the view of Hanalei Bay is breathtaking. The north shore winters have large surf swells so by 8:00 a.m. there were 10-20 professional-appearing surfers in the water each morning. The Platinum card included free buffet breakfast every morning (valued at $80 per day). The buffet is decadent and has anything you can imagine: waffle bar with fixings, tropical fruits, omelet bar, baked goods, cereal, smoked salmon, and local dishes. It is so filling you do not need lunch if you eat late in the morning! This was hands down our best deal through American Express at only $408 per night. Without the Platinum card and paying for breakfast, the upgrade, and butler, I imagine the rate would be double what we paid!
After six nights in Kauai, we flew to Maui direct on Hawaiian Airlines. Check back next week for part two and an overview of our stay on Maui. Aloha!