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-   -   Which AA destination for a young family's vacation? (https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/hawaii/1908501-aa-destination-young-familys-vacation.html)

beofotch May 9, 18 8:52 am

Which AA destination for a young family's vacation?
 
Hi all - rather than posting in the Caribbean or Hawaii section I figured I would start this thread for discussion on vacations at AA-served destinations period. What are some of your favorites for your family past or aspirational for the future?

In my case my wife and I are debating on where to hit next with our kids in March 2019 who'll be 23 months and 4 by then. We just got back from the Park Hyatt St. Kitts which was truly incredible and has spoiled our perspective on vacation excellence. We are CLT based, I am a ConciergeKey, and she a Gold and we are Globalist at Hyatt, and Lifetime Platinum Premier with Marriott/SPG.

We snagged 3 business class seats + infant in arms for a 10 night round-trip for the new ORD - HNL route and back on the AA 787-800 when it leaked on Sunday. With the Caribbean so close Hawaii never got me super excited although being able to take the family of 4 for 240k AA points + $35 in taxes/fees is pretty compelling and as good as any opportunity we'll have to go. However, when researching Hawaii it looks terrific but begs the question is it materially more interesting than the convenience and beauty of AA's Caribbean destinations? My wife and I have been to Bahamas, St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Kitts and have seen a few other Caribbean destinations briefly from a few cruises with plenty more yet to see or experience especially now we have kids.

If we stuck with Hawaii we would want to avoid taking an extra flight to say Maui or Kauai as CLT - ORD - HNL will be a huge amount of travel and disruption in itself let alone adding yet another flight. Oahu seems to have plenty of interesting stuff to see in itself and the convenience of snagging a rental car for 10 days, loading it with the car seats, and doing 2 Oahu "base camps" for 5 days each seems appealing. With really compelling incremental greatness for a family with young kids for Maui or Kauai we would at least consider this. Nevertheless my wife keeps bringing up the seemingly valid point that the Caribbean will offer many of the same activities and experiences in 4-7 hours of travel instead of with 12-18 hours of travel which with the little ones makes a big difference. What would you do if you were in our shoes? What in particular would make Oahu so special for us that the Caribbean can't replicate?

In general our favorite things about vacationing as a family are:
  • Spending 70-80% of the time with the kids and having 20-30% of the time for just my wife and I. Thus being able to get a babysitter for the kids or do a "kids club" here and there so mom and dad can grab a drink or three and enjoy some "us" time.
  • Enjoying huge delicious overpriced hotel breakfasts for free given our status. This is especially awesome at Hyatt's but Marriott/SPG more and more compelling breakfasts
  • Having a suite where the kids can be in one room and we can be in another to avoid being "trapped" in bed once they go down to sleep at around 7PM. Hyatt's confirmed suite upgrades have been awesome for this and with the new Marriott/SPG program we should be able to get at least 5 nights in a suite confirmed there too.
  • Convenience of beach and pool being very close and minimizing the distance or time traveled (thus we probably would prefer flying coach to Caribbean versus lie-flat business to Hawaii all other things equal because of the travel time)
  • Don't like packing and unpacking, changing car seats, being "in-transit" too much during a trip
  • Beautiful quiet beaches or pools on the edge of civilization, interesting cultural activities based on the area, doing some light hikes, treks, or even scenic drives (go see a nearby waterfall that requires a 1-2 mi. hike for example). With the little ones lagoons or tidal pools are more appealing than ever right now.
  • Fun kids stuff (see Disney characters live, go to a zoo, go to an aquarium, learn about or see the nature and animals in the area)
Thanks for your thoughts and considering and look forward to the dialogue about our specific needs and your own great experiences.

Beofotch

arlflyer May 9, 18 9:10 am

7/10: Too short, needs more bold, and not enough open-ended questions.

enpremiere May 9, 18 9:26 am


Originally Posted by beofotch (Post 29733768)
However, when researching Hawaii it looks terrific but begs the question is it materially more interesting than the convenience and beauty of AA's Caribbean destinations?

Well the FT side of me says that we should examine the beauty of getting there first (after all, this is a forum about air travel and not hotels). I've reduced my long-winded scientific assessment to this:

Hawaii = Fully flat 787 seats to a warm tropical destination (for which you already have sAAver seats)
Carribean = Narrow-body, aging aircraft


Originally Posted by beofotch (Post 29733768)
Fun kids stuff

The 787 in service to Hawaii from ORD.


Originally Posted by beofotch (Post 29733768)
What would you do if you were in our shoes?

Book an AAnytime F award to the Caribbean for the FT poster who labored over this snarky and useless response so that we can properly compare notes after our respective trips.

Enjoy your Hawaiian vacation, it really sounds like a great trip and you've already done the hardest part (finding that elusive award space there).

oopsz May 9, 18 1:16 pm


What in particular would make Oahu so special for us that the Caribbean can't replicate?


Nothing.
Honestly, I hate Oahu. It's loud and crowded and dirty. Even when you get out of Honolulu it's still too busy. Your wife has a great point - it's a long flight to take with kids, and if you're committed to staying on Oahu it's absolutely not worth it. If you want the experience of the royal hawaiian, stay at the W fort lauderdale and ask for a bottle of strawberry andre with the label steamed off as your platinum amenity.

If I were in your situation, I'd leave the kids with their grandparents for a week and take the wife to Hawaii.


  • Beautiful quiet beaches or pools on the edge of civilization, interesting cultural activities based on the area, doing some light hikes, treks, or even scenic drives (go see a nearby waterfall that requires a 1-2 mi. hike for example). With the little ones lagoons or tidal pools are more appealing than ever right now.

Big island. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is a picturesque Marriott property and an absolute steal using Starwood points. The hotel is on what's widely considered one of the nicest beaches in the Hawaiian islands. The surrounding Kohala coast is lovely, with quaint towns, good food and nice people, and the big island is gorgeous if you want to explore. The drives are scenic, and hikes are beautiful, and Volcanos national park can be breathtaking. But it's just too damn far to take a young family.

azepine00 May 9, 18 1:47 pm

This belongs to hawaii forum.

mvoight May 9, 18 3:26 pm


Originally Posted by azepine00 (Post 29735163)
This belongs to hawaii forum.

I agree.. Not much to do with AA except finding award seats. If it's just a waterfall you seek, you can find one at El Yunque in PR. I also like the luminescent creatures in PR...
Hawaii is a bit different. Some good, some bad. There are many sites that show what is there. I think a flight over the eruptions would be cool, if you can do it.

eponymous_coward May 9, 18 4:08 pm


Originally Posted by beofotch (Post 29733768)
Hi all - rather than posting in the Caribbean or Hawaii section I figured I would start this thread for discussion on vacations at AA-served destinations period. What are some of your favorites for your family past or aspirational for the future?

Combined with:


Originally Posted by beofotch (Post 29733768)
What would you do if you were in our shoes? What in particular would make Oahu so special for us that the Caribbean can't replicate?

doesn't make it much of a generalized discussion. For instance, this was a favorite AA destination I redeemed an award for:

I took my teenaged daughter to London and Paris on AA planes out of SEA (using AS miles, redeeming for AA Y, over a Christmas (yes, I know, I redeemed in Y, shut up, it was that or not go at all, and while the plane travel wasn't amazeballs I was actually able to do it, and did something I wouldn't have otherwise been able to do, flew into LHR and out of ZRH). We had a great time in both London and Paris. I'd do it again.

But that has very, very little to do with comparing Oahu to the Caribbean, now, doesn't it?

I've also hit the the Yucatan coast south of Cancun with my daughter when she was younger, which has some pretty awesome beaches and fun. I don't really do the hotel breakfast thing in amazing suites when doing family travel because most of the time I don't have elite status plus suite upgrades with the requisite bucket of points to replace being able to throw around large four digits for expensive hotel rooms for a week. I'm perfectly fine with renting condos and Air BnB'ing things. So my travel preferences with family are quite different from yours, though I will say Akumal and it's surrounds has some nice quiet beaches and snorkeling areas, and the Sian Ka'an is amazing. You might also like Xel-Ha, and plenty of luxe places that take points and shiny elite cards in Cancun...

We haven't hit Hawaii yet so I have no standards for comparison (when my daughter graduates community college there will be a trip to the Big Island). Anyways...

Personally, if you're not hot to trot for your destination, who cares that you got 787 J seats? Just from your preferences it seems like you're aching for excuses not to do 10+ hours of flying with small kids. Sounds very logical to me. So don't.

PS: CUN sometimes gets A330s. ;)

dstan May 9, 18 5:36 pm

As the OP seems to be familiar with the Caribbean, we'll move this over to the Hawaii forum for broader discussion.

dstan
AA Forum Co-Moderator



A few notes from someone who has been to both: 1) Expect Hawaii to be more expensive than many Caribbean destinations. 2) Agree with oopsz above, Oahu is my least favorite of the Hawaiian islands. 3) As you have Hyatt status, note that the Grand Hyatt Kauai is a very special resort, not to be missed, with a nice "lagoon" pool for the kids to hang out in, and the beach just beyond, and plenty of sites to see around the island. 4) Also plenty to do, see, or relax at on Maui and Hawaii (though the Kiluaea eruption may disrupt that last one currently).


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