Hawaii Trip Notes: Part 1, Oahu.

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-Taking a 2 week trip to Hawaii as a religious Jew sure is far from easy. My dear wife spent a good couple days making all of the food for the trip in advance. We then froze the food to get it to be rock hard.

-I did my share as well as well-arranging every trip detail and constantly being on the lookout for Continental First class and BusinessFirst seats to Hawaii (Only fair after my wife slaved over a stove for that long!). It paid off-each of our flights were confirmed in First or BusinessFirst. I locked in the 75K mileage rate before it went up to 80K in October. I love that Continental now gives free date and routing changes on award tickets! It makes planning mileage tickets so much easier!

-Forum member agug was extremely kind and hooked me up with a free room at the Sheraton at the Cleveland airport (Starwood Category 2).  With the mercury clocking in at 10 degrees on Thursday night we were able to leave the food in a suitcase in the car without worry. By staying at the airport we were able to roll out of bed at 5am and get right onto the 6am flight.

-Continental’s BusinessFirst on the Houston-Honolulu leg was great.  It’s not lie-flat (although it will be within a couple years), but it’s probably as good as it gets for flights to Hawaii.  A nice luxuriously wide seat, with plenty of legroom, a footrest, and a personal LCD.  We got a kosher lunch and pre-arrival snack.  Neither were great, although the chocolate mousse dessert was quite good-it was so rich I was able to make it last for hours!  The flight attendants were excellent, some of the best I’ve ever had!

-Anyone even thinking about going to Hawaii must read the “Revealed” series of guidebooks. These are guidebooks like you’ve never seen before.  They are funny, easy to read, detailed, full of great tips, and unbiased straight-talk reviews.  It would be criminal to visit any Hawaiian Island without the appropriate book!  I only wish the author would create more books like this for other places!

-We’re staying at the absolutely gorgeous Westin Moana Surfrider in Honolulu for 2 nights.  One night was with my Platinum free weekend night, the other with a Starwood category 5 free night redemption. They TOTALLY hooked us up! A 17th floor corner suite complete with 2 large oceanfront balconies, a massive living room that has a dining room table, an empty fridge and pantry, a murphy bed in the wall, a couch, chairs for 7, a flat-screen, and a work desk.  The bathroom is all marble and the toilet, um, I’ll let you see it for yourself but I haven’t seen one of those since I was in Japan!  The hotel also sent up a fantastic fruit tray and 4 bottles of water.

-Parking at the hotel is a confiscatory $33/day.  I found $15 parking across the street.  No-brainer there.

-The food arrived in Honolulu frozen solid.  We took out the food we needed until Sunday and sent the rest of the suitcase of food to the hotel freezer.

-While the hotel is great and I’d highly recommend it, it’s far from ideal for sabbath observing Jews. The stairs have sensors that turn on the lights when you enter the stairwell which meant we’d be spending Shabbos in the room.  Mind you, this room was not a bad room to be stuck in!  The air conditioning unit turns off when you open the balcony, but I got an engineer to override that “feature” (he said the sensors for the stairs were not able to be turned off).  The toilet had to unplugged-good thing we noticed it before shabbos or it would’ve been quite unpleasant!

-The Whole Foods in Honolulu has tons of great kosher food, but prices are 10%-50% higher than on the mainland.  Regular grocery store prices can be 25%-80% higher than the mainland, but buying things on sale with a Safeway discount card helps.  Costco’s prices on the other hand are pretty much in line with the mainland and is a great place to stock up.

-My opinion is that Oahu is too overcrowded and touristy.  While there are nice places and fun things to do on the island, the other islands just offer so much more that there is no compelling reason to spend more than a couple days in Oahu.  There’s relatively little of the awesome greenery, hiking, active volcanoes, and serene waterfalls that the other islands offer.

Previously on Oahu I’ve done the following activities (5/5 = must do , 0/5= don’t bother):

-Jet-skied insane waves near the Banzai Pipeline (Now this was exhilarating!): 4/5

-Kayaked to a “sunken island” (So cool to be able to walk in the ocean after kayaking for an hour): 3.5/5

-Walking down the Waikiki Boardwalk, checking out the stores and people (and a lot of them sure are interesting): 3.5/5

-Snorkeled Hanauma Bay (More exciting snorkeling is free on other islands): 3.5/5

-Watch surfers battle 15 foot waves at Banzai (Worth a stop during the winter if you’re at the north shore): 3/5

-Driven the H3 (Some of the best scenery on Oahu): 3/5

-Hiked to Manoa Falls (Pretty falls, nicer ones on other islands that are easier to get to): 2.5/5

-Climbed Diamond Head mountain (Nice view, but not much nicer than a Ocean view room balcony!: 2/5

-Visited Pearl Harbor (I’m pretty sure I was the only non-Japanese person there…weird): 2/5

-Visited the Dole Plantation (Cute store, with great kosher Hawaiian microwavable kettle corn, but not much else worth spending the money on).: 1/5

-Anyway now we’re off to my personal favorite, the Island of Kauai!

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The flight attendant even offered to take our pic!

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Kosher Lunch (appetizer and dessert)

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Kosher Lunch (entrée)

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Kosher snack

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Partial view of living room

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Partial view of bathroom

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Toilet controls…

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Living room balcony

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Hotel fruit tray

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Getting ready for Shabbos

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View from the balcony

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View from the balcony, from left, Sheraton Waikiki (Starwood Cat. 5), Royal Hawaiian (Starwood Cat. 6), and Outrigger Waikiki.

-Agree/Disagree with any of my opinions? Let’s hear it in the comments!

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45 Comments on "Hawaii Trip Notes: Part 1, Oahu."

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danfanbanana

dan we love your trip notes!!!
They are wonderful
Hope you are having an awesome time!!

P.S.
so how much did this trip cost you in total??

fun fun

what about a farabragin on the beach!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous

show us where u lit the menorah

danFan

a picture of our revered danny boy?!
its a CHANUKAH MIRACLE!!!

awesome post

Dan/Ctownbochur

@danfanbanana:
Food brought from home, $0 incremental cost over eating at home.
First class tickets, $0.
13 hotel nights, $0.
14 rental car days, $300.
14 days in paradise with my dear wife, priceless.
For everything else there’s SPG AMEX.

@fun fun:
The beach isn’t where it’s at-the waterfalls and canyons are!

@Anonymous:
OK, next post!

@danFan:
lol…is it the first time I’ve posted my own pic?

Thanks for the feedback so far guys!

Curious

Dan,
How do you have so much vacation time? What do you do for a living?

danfanbanana

Haha thanks dan, you are so cool
the picture is really cute by the way

steve2

well I dont care what a room looks like, my idea of being forced to spend Shabbos locked up when a Minyan is a 20 min walk away is anything but Ideal.

BTW I once had that problem as the Hotel I was staying in didnt have a staircase from the lobby but you had to use the elevator. Then the problem with opening the balcony door and even the front door shut everything off

Ive been to the Surfrider, its OK, not what Id call Luxury. The Royal Hawaiian is more like the King David and kinda of getting a feel of old Luxury, but still very far from what the Top Resorts on Kauii,Maui, or The Big Is are like. But then its Wakiki

when in Hawaii a person really wants to be at a true Resort which I think only Turtle Bay up on the North shore might fit on Oahu. Even the JW isnt all there

yitz

Dan, u gota live like ur dieing!!!! You’re doing a great job keep it up. On a side note I’ve done a few mileage runs recently with AA’s promotions and I gota say there’s nothing quite like flying around the country 4 no apparent reason!! Brings life 2 a whole new level. Keep up the good work with keeping us informed. You da man!!

Chabad Hotel

Dan,
Why didn’t you stay at Ala Moana Hotel, which houses the only Chabad in the state of Hawaii. They have minyanim on shabbos. They have a gourmet Friday night dinner. They have a huge kiddush / lunch. They have it set up so that the one staircase isn’t locked for shabbos. As you walk to the staircase, you pass the security desk, so can just alert them to open your room.

danFan

@yitz:
unemployed much?
;)

tennisboy

oahu is actually really nice if you know what to do. the waves for “body surfing” are awesome, and duke’s is really fun to hang out at. also, the north shore is beautiful. oahu is underrated when it comes to hawaii! (i say that of course with the caveat that i am going to kauai in a month to check it out — not at 75k in CO, but at 35K in Y with a stop-over in Vancouver on UA, a pretty good deal!).

moish

dan, whats a “Platinum free weekend night”?

moish

and as a plat, how do i get it?

jay

how did u rent a car for 2 weeks for 300. and are u staying primarily at the hyatts?

steve2

@moish

SPG gave its Plats (those that were 1/1/09) 1 free night up to a Cat5 for a weekend night.

SPG just announced they are extending it till 5/1 instead of 12/21., for those that didnt use it up as of yet.

Or a Plat was offered $75 off of a stay they booked in lieu of the free night. If you made Plat on 2/1/09 you werent entitled to it.

steve2

@Chabad Hotel

To an extent I dont blame Dan his Hotel was $0 and nicer then the AM. That said if I was to be in HNL for Shabbos I would have chosen either the DoubleTree or The Hilton Hawaiian Village both which are maybe a 10 min walk to the AM. I would have used my HH pts, but Dan if he doesnt have any , might have made a post offering Hyatt or SPG for a trade to cover the 2 nights at either Hil prop, that way it wouldnt have cost him anything.

The DT is dumpy but an easy in & out, the HHV is just that a large village but w/o status he wouldnt have gotten anything near the room he did. I would have preferred either of these 2 and being able to get out of the room & especially have a minyan on Chanukah then to be in a Presidental suite in the most expensive room anywhere in the World

as for the food from reports from those that ate at the AM , Dan was SMART and brought his own!

chan

The big Island now has Chabad too.

Dan/Ctownbochur

@Chabad Hotel:
Why didn’t I stay at the Ala Moana? Because my suite at the Westin Moana Surfrider was free!

Arriving in HNL just 3 hours before shabbos wasn’t ideal, but it was what I had.

Obviously I had no idea that I’d be stuck in the room, but we made the best of it and considering how nice the suite was it wasn’t the end of the world.

@steve2:
For all I know the Hilton and doubletree have the same problem. It’s a problem that I never encountered before and didn’t expect. Staying a 10 minute walk or 20 minute away from Chabad makes no difference to me.

No the surfrider isn’t luxury like the Grand Hyatt Kauai where I am right now, but it seemed like the best option out of Hyatt and SPG in Honolulu. And it was indeed very nice.

@chan:
There is a Chabad presence on every major Island.

steve2

@Dan

Most Hotels do have the problem in regards to opening the Balcony door. But thats about it.

In Wakiki Ive stayed at Embassy Suites, Sher Princess, Marriott, Courtyard, HVV and didnt run into any of the problems you did.

then I wouldnt put any of those I stayed at on an equal footing with the MS. They all served their purpose and except for the Princess none were dumpy just not luxury.

Ive stayed @ The Princess the most,oddly as they had the best rate and an SPG promo of sort was going on.

Dont know about parking as I always bus it in for $2 to/from the airport. And when needed Enterprise it for a day off of Wakiki to save the additional $10 charge for Wakiki

Need I say I wasnt at any over Shabbos either but did keep that in mind when staying to see what hassles there might be.

Now I will admitt Ive given up some very nice Upgrades as I wanted a very low floor when I have stayed at Hotels around the World over Shabbos. It was way more important for me to be able to walk up & down the stairs rather then have an awesome room and view. But then Im usually traveling by myself and no need to impress anyone with what I can get. Comfort & Convience is more important to me.

Again if you should be in Wakiki why not trade someone for the # of nights you need at say the HHV (Hilton)it wont be the MS but it will a Shabbos, Chabad is maybe a 10 min walk 15 max.

moish

how do you stay at hyatts on the cheap?

Bz

wow… nice to finally put a face to the name :-)

Aren’t there major issues w/ the international dateline in Hawaii? I’m pretty sure I was told that halachikly one should never spend shabbos there unless they have no choice…

Dan/Ctownbochur

@steve2:
Why not trade for Hilton?
Because I had no idea the Westin wouldn’t work out for Shabbos. Not sure why you keep asking the same question?

@moish:
Faster free nights.

@Bz:
Your welcome.
Chabad custom is that on Hawaii is that shabbos is kept on the local Saturday. Ask your own Rabbi for your own custom.

jay

Disorono on the rocks!

Dan/Ctownbochur

@jay:
Disorono (1.5 oz.) with Ginger Ale (5 oz.) on the rocks-try it you’ll love it!

steve2

@Dan

Sorry I didnt mean it as a question pretaining to this trip, meant going forward to the next time you want/need to be in HNL for Shabbos. As well as to let others know if they find themselves in the same conditions that IMO it pays to trade for either HH prop even thou it wont be as nice as the MS

I know you prefer not to be in HNL on Shabbos or any day if you can help it, cause its HNL.

Freddie

@steve2: The Double Tree wasn’t a dump when I was there! I found my room there to be rather spacious and clean. Also, its right across the street from HV and within 15 min walk to Chabad. Personally, if I would be plat, I would have done what Dan did. But Im not! so until I get a match from my HGP diamond status, I would have probably burned out my 35k remaining Hilton points for a night at the Double tree.

@Curious: Travel writers get paid to go on vacation…….Check out November’s Continental magazine article on “Hiking Kauai” where the writer recalls getting it over his head for going to paradise without his wife! Its great to work in a field that you can enjoy!

@ Dan: Nicely done on the upgrade at the Westin! Oahu, is a beautiful island. The JW Marriott on the Leeward side will give you more of the Kauai feeling. But for a return trip to Hawaii, you are absolutely right that Oahu isnt the main draw. Im looking forward to hearing about your Diamond reception at the Hyatts!
I wish I was 25 already. great deal there with the rental cars! I found 5 days at LIH for 266.18 and 4 days at OGG for 193.45 both for group C (intermediate). Im hoping for a convertible President’s Club upgrade at OGG to go to Hana with.

yitz

@dan fan. Actually gave a job, but nice try! ;)

Sholom

Finally, now i know what your name is… seeing you around all the time but never knowing
good goin ma man, it was seein ya on the trip as well, shame i had to go economy!

Moshe

@steve2:
+1
I usually do major research before I go to a hotel, and I hopefully would’ve found out the Shabbos issue. Had I arrived to such a hotel, I would have paid a couple hundred dollars and ran over to a hotel that would’ve allowed me to go to minyanim on Shabbos (and possibly it would go into HOTZA’OS SHABBOS, which you get back). The value of a Kedusha or Amein, is priceless.But I guess we all have our opinions about things. You can give me first class tickets and beautiful free hotels in Dubai or wherever, but if I can’t have minyan, I will miss out on that fun. I asked a Rav, and he told me that if you must go somewhere without minyan for business or something, you can take a heter, but for fun he said he can’t find or give a heter to go davka there, when the world has so many places with minyan to go there. Dan, I’m not attacking you or whatever, but for me I must have a guaranteed minyan before you go somewhere, and maybe when you realized what happened you didn’t have time to transfer elsewhere. Enjoy

Abe Da'Babe

@BZ
The issue with the international Dateline and shabbas, is that it is before the switch via the standard Grenwich, England Time, however, as a Jew, it is PAST i.e., tomorrow of the Jerusalem Mean Time. Jerusalem, as we know, is the center of the universe and the world, therefore, the longitude for Jerusalem according to jewish law is 0 degrees. Hence, the 180 degree longitude line, according to jewish law, would be to the RIGHT of Hawaii, instead of to the left like it is by the global positioning system we have now with grenwich, England being 0 degrees. In lengthy summation, and due to the fact the Eagles won and i am in a fantastic mood, Shabbas should be on Fridays in Hawaii. HOWEVER, the laws of shabbas and when shabbas is was created by G-d FOR US. Essentially, humans determine when the holidays are and when shabbas is, by all of us agree to what day of the week is. By jewish law if you, get lost and totally forget what day of the week it is, then you establish that first day as DAY ONE and continue until it is DAY Seven when you make it Official shabbos. Even though it might really be Tuesday, then once you get rescued, you go back to what the world says Shabbos is.

The whole world including us, for the determination of shabbos, we use the current international dateline, but for SHAVOUS we do not and that is why CHABAD and most knowledgeable people will not fly across the secular international dateline during the omer counting. With that i bid you a E-A-G-L-E-S goodnight.

@Dan
You are awesome and i still do not understand how to do what you do, but my friends are trying to explain it to me still after 3 years of following your site. The one thing i must disagree with you on BIG TIME, is going to Pearl Harbor should be a 5/5, MUST DO. I love the USA with a passion. I am so far to the political right, that like Zoolander, i do not know how to turn left. If only Americans would remember what happened at Pearl Harbor then they would not wait for Iran to attack Israel!

Happy Chanukah, Frechlin Chanukah, Admosai Moshiach Now!

loyal reader

I have never had the urge to go to Hawaii until I read about your trip!
sounds amazing!

Mike

Dan,
I hope the two of you are having a blast. Is there anyway to become platinum on Starwood without having 25 stays or 50 nights?

S

Dan, you can’t exactly call the hotel nights free if you had to pay for the original Hyatt stays, right?

Dan/Ctownbochur

@Mike:
Status Match.

@S:
Perhaps, but the miles I got for those stays (over 300,000) came out to under a penny a mile. I’d always buy miles at that price. Plus I got Hyatt points, Hyatt Diamond status and all the fater free nights.

Mike

Dan,

Did you status match from Hyatt?

sam

hi i like the way you get all over the world for $0 maybe you can help me with away to go to florida for no cost just with mileg or just to travel aroud the world i live in nyc i have allot of extre time . i lost my job almost a year ago .

thanks for you help

chaya

dan, do you or your wife work?
trip sounds awesome!!! enjoy

steve2

eagerly awaiting for you to post the pics of your Suite at The Hyatt. As nice as the MS is that was for 2 nights , Im sure you scored a great Suite at The Hyatt as well.

since I have never been there your pics will have to do for now

Michael

What do you mean “I love that Continental now gives free date and routing changes on award tickets!”?

I have a business points ticket to Israel. For the way back there was no availability on the date that I had intended to travel I had to extend my trip for two days. Is there any way for me to get them to change and put me on the flight that I really wanted, 2 days earlier? Thanks

Liv Rab

You guys look so cute! Enjoy your trip, and keep us posted!

HENRY

LIZA- You look so cute!

sam

When do we get part 2?

I ROSENBERG

making me jealous. any problem with the time line as far as shabbos? i hear there is a minyon?

victor

Hey Dan-
how do i get a good deal on a hotel in Hawaii???

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