Christmas in Hawaii: Introduction

We had been kicking around for a Christmas holiday for several months.  After a few mediocre Christmas trips, it was time to change things up a bit from prior years - and to make sure we got a perfect trip.  We nailed it this year.

Last year's Christmastime visit to the St. Regis in Puerto Rico was a disaster (so bad that I got my points refunded and a gift certificate for a complementary future four night visit!).  The two prior years' trips to the Ritz Carlton in Palm Beach were OK, but the weather there is unpredictable at Christmas (could be 50 degrees or could be 80 degrees) and we had grown a bit tired of the hotel after 8+ visits in the last 10 years.

We ended up making preliminary bookings at the Westin Beaver Creek, Four Seasons Costa Rica, Four Seasons Jackson Hole and Four Seasons Hualalai (Kona).  We decided skiing was not what we wanted, so that eliminated Beaver Creek and Jackson Hole.  We decided that Costa Rica would be better when our kids were a bit older (they're 8 and 5-1/2 as of this writing) Kona it was.


Around the same time as we were deciding, my daughter (5-1/2 years old) declared that she wanted to go to Hawaii - so we made this trip her "special trip," which she quite appreciated.  My son has claimed destination picking rights for 2012.  I am cautiously optimistic as to where that will take us!

As Four Seasons doesn't have a points scheme, this was going to be a paid holiday - at least for lodging.   While the lack of club floor and points program puts Four Seasons a little behind a number of their competitors, Four Seasons has always more than made up for these factors through the quality of their offering.

Due to our late planning (July), we could only get the rooms we wanted in Kona until December 24.  Not wanting to fly home on a red eye on Christmas Eve (though maybe we could have seen Santa?), we booked a few nights on Waikiki afterwards.  There were enough interesting things that we wanted to see there - plus we could ultimately take the non-stop flight home to EWR from HNL and avoid a connection.

Our travel details ended up being as follows:

  • AA 3 JFK-LAX Flagship First, AA 247 LAX-KOA First
  • Four Seasons Hualalai (FS-Kona)
  • HA 207 KOA-HNL First
  • Halekulani
  • CO 14 HNL-EWR BusinessFirst

With the exception of my seat on CO14 and three of our seats on KOA-HNL, all of our seats were award seats (or otherwise no-cost add-ons) in the forward cabin.  Even though I had to use double miles awards for all seats, the valuation/cost avoidance on the redemption was about 3.5cpm.  I intentionally paid for my CO flight to finally hit Star Alliance Gold on Aegean.

As I write my first draft of this from seat 3A on CO 14, while I leave a fair but poorer (thanks to the hotel bills), much more importantly, my entire family leaves with some absolutely wonderful memories which will last a lifetime.  Frankly, the only person who might object to us returning next year is my accountant!

Through this report, I'll share the highlights of this trip, and the few low-lights, and my booking strategies so hopefully you can make your family Hawaiian holiday even better!  While it is roughly 5,000 miles from New York (roughly equidistant to Istanbul), Hawaii is well worth the journey.  The quality of the destination is that good – far superior to any of the dozen Caribbean destinations I’ve been to.

This is my first multi-part trip report.  I hope you enjoy it and please forgive me for any errors.  I welcome any comments or suggestions that you might have and would be pleased to answer any questions.

This report is continued here.