This Couple Got 13 Nights in Hawaiian Paradise Using Miles & Points!

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This Couple Got 13 Nights in Hawaiian Paradise Using Miles & Points!

Million Mile SecretsThis Couple Got 13 Nights in Hawaiian Paradise Using Miles & Points!Million Mile Secrets Team

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Welcome to the next installment of our Reader Success Series where Million Mile Secrets Readers share how they booked a trip with miles & points to get Big Travel with Small Money!

Kyle is our newest reader success story to show folks it’s possible to travel without spending a lot of money.

This Couple Got 13 Nights In Hawaiian Paradise Using Miles Points
Stopped for a Picture During Our 4×4 Tour of the Kipu Ranch

A big thank you to Kyle for sharing his story!

Please introduce yourself to everyone and tell us how long you’ve been involved in the miles & points hobby.

I’m Kyle.  My girlfriend Courtney and I have been in the points game a little over a year – November 2015 to be exact.

What was the goal of your trip?

I’ve traveled the Caribbean pretty extensively since I was born, but I never had the chance to visit Hawaii.  I had two goals on this trip.

This Couple Got 13 Nights In Hawaiian Paradise Using Miles Points
Another Photo Opp During Our Kipu Ranch tour

The first goal was to have a relaxing tropical getaway.  The second goal was to prove to my skeptical girlfriend this whole points & miles thing actually works!

How long did you collect miles and points for your trip? 

It took about 10 months to accumulate all the point & miles needed for the trip (not including Delta miles, which I had before I knew about the points hobby).  We ended up booking everything about 4 months ahead of the actual trip.

Which points did you save to take your trip?

Chase Ultimate Rewards points were the most valuable and most flexible points in making this trip possible.

90,000 Delta miles for 2 round-trip flights from Moline, Illinois, to Lihue then Maui back to Moline (open jaw), which would have been $1,053 per person – came to 2.3 cents per mile.

175,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Hyatt for a 7-night stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai.  We originally had a Garden View (parking lot view) room and they upgraded us to an Ocean View room with a lanai.  This stay would have cost us $4,501.  We paid nothing after they waived the resort fee for the entire week.

This Couple Got 13 Nights In Hawaiian Paradise Using Miles Points
I Didn’t Have the List Price for the Napua Tower for My Excel Spreadsheet. While We Were Waiting for Our Room to Be Ready, I Looked up the Price of the Stay – Luckily We Didn’t Pay Anywhere Close to That

We used our 2 free Hilton weekend nights at the Grand Wailea Waldorf Astoria.  We ended up paying for one night, through a promotion from the Visa Luxury Hotel Collection offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve.   The promotion offered the last night free, we ended up booking 2 nights, then booked 2 award nights using the 2 free weekend night certificates from the Citi Hilton Reserve.

Upon arrival there were no 1 level upgrades.  And after about 15 minutes they ended up giving us a room in the Napua Tower which included access to complimentary cocktail and hors d’oeuvres, dessert hour, and continental breakfast.  The 4-night stay at the Waldorf Astoria would have cost ~$3,716, but we paid $639.

This Couple Got 13 Nights In Hawaiian Paradise Using Miles Points
Grounds at the Grand Wailea

45,000 Wyndham points (3 nights at the Wyndham Santa Monica).  Paid nothing while this stay.  It would have cost us $1,346 – this stay will be explained below.

What cards would you recommend to someone starting out with miles & points?

How did you search for and find the award flights?

Basically just, because I already had the points.  The only difficult part was trying to book.

When I called Delta, they claimed the flight was 70,000 miles instead of the 45,000 I found on their site.  Luckily after about an hour they found the glitch and awarded the flight.

How did you find your hotel accommodations?

The two hotels we stayed in Hawaii we first saw on Million Mile Secrets – the Grand Hyatt Kauai and the Waldorf Astoria Maui.

This Couple Got 13 Nights In Hawaiian Paradise Using Miles Points
Checking Into the Grand Hyatt Kauai

After we decided on the hotels, it was just accumulating points for the stay.  I was able to take advantage of Chase Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection deal in late August, basically a buy one get one free night at the Waldorf Astoria.

What was the most challenging part about planning your trip? How did you solve it?

Accumulating points for two hotels we couldn’t stay at.

I signed-up for the Barclaycard Wyndham Rewards card, which offered 45,000 Wyndham points and was enough for a 3-night stay at any Wyndham in the world.

Unfortunately, after I met the sign-up bonus and received the points, the Wyndham Koloa Landing at Poipu Beach Wyndham Grand Resort was no longer a Wyndham property.  Luckily we used those points for the Wyndham Santa Monica at the Pier in September to extend a short business trip.

This Couple Got 13 Nights In Hawaiian Paradise Using Miles Points
View From Our Hotel Room at the Grand Wailea in the Napua Tower

The other problem we ran into was trying to book at the Andaz Maui, a Hyatt property.  I had over 200,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points and even with up to 8 nights, they simply wouldn’t release a room for an award stay.  Lucky for us, the Grand Hyatt Kauai had wide open availability throughout the winter.

Give us a few recommendations or tips for what to do at your destination.  Parks, restaurants, hidden gems, etc.

We love food!  With that being said you should definitely venture outside of your resort.

A few places that we recommend are Tiki Tacos, Puka Dog, and Hee Fat General Store in Kauai.

This Couple Got 13 Nights In Hawaiian Paradise Using Miles Points
A Fun Experience and a Nice Way to See the Entire Island in About an Hour Is With a Helicopter Tour

In Maui, Uluani Shaved Ice, Longhis, and the South Maui Fish Company which is a food truck with the most amazing fresh fish tacos.

We stayed pretty busy throughout the trip by visiting places such as Queen’s BathWaimea Canyon, the Road to Hana, and too many beaches to list.

What did you learn about yourself on the trip?

That the points and miles hobby can take you anywhere.  If we would have booked this trip using cash it would have cost over $10,700.  With points, miles, and other credit card benefits this trip cost less than $1,000 total for 13 days in paradise.

This Couple Got 13 Nights In Hawaiian Paradise Using Miles Points
Beautiful Picture of the Napali Coast from the Helicopter

And that we need to move to Hawaii as soon as possible. 😉

What would you say to folks looking to plan a similar trip?  Or to those who haven’t taken a miles & points trip yet!

A few things:   An excel spreadsheet helps keep everything in order, even if you don’t sign-up for certain cards you have your eye on now set up an account with loyalty programs early to receive more targeted offers from hotels or airlines, and get the Chase Sapphire Reserve.  The points are nice, but the benefits are amazing.

This Couple Got 13 Nights In Hawaiian Paradise Using Miles Points
We Took a Whale Watching Tour and a Group of 3 Whales Surfaced Within 50 Feet of our Boat

My girlfriend and I both have one and we both have the Priority Pass Select card, and Global Entry.  I’ve used the Silvercar and Enterprise discounts several times, and access to the Chase Luxury Hotels and Resorts Collection.

Now that I was able to convince my girlfriend this hobby works, we are looking at a 3-week trip to Australia, New Zealand, and Bora Bora – hopefully it will be booked completely with points & miles!

Want to Share Your Story?

If you’d like to be considered for our reader success story series, please send me a note!  Emily and I would love to hear about how you travel with miles and points!

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 36,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Great write-up, thank you.

How were you able to get the resort fees waived?

Also, how were you able to have your rooms upgraded?

Hi Chris,

At the Hyatt in Kauai we arrived a few hours earlier than check-in and our room wasn’t ready, but the ocean view was and they were nice enough to give us that room. Both Hyatt and Hilton(waldorf) waive the resort fees when the stays are booked using points or free nights. I did end up paying for resort fees for 2 of the nights at the Waldorf in Maui, because they were considered paid nights.

With Hilton, my girlfriend has Hilton Platinum status so that could have gotten us the upgrade. The promo I booked with the Visa Luxury Resorts and Hotels also included an automatic upgrade. I think it was just good timing, the hotel was pretty full and several of the rooms that were up 1 tier were sold out. I was surprised they put us in the Napua tower, it was awesome.

We also went to Hawaii last summer on miles & points. We ended up getting a room upgrade at every hotel- which was amazing and lucky! We didn’t ask for the upgrades but we were always friendly and talkative while checking in so that could have helped. One hotel commented that they didn’t normally upgrade but since we were only there for two nights they were able to find an upgraded room for us, so maybe shorter stays helped. We had 4 nights at the Grand Wailea on Maui, 2 at Hilton Waikoloa on the Big Island, 1 at Hilton Garden Inn on Kauai, and 2 at the Grand Hyatt on Kauai, along with some military properties. It was an amazing trip!

Our family of 5 did a similar trip but we booked 330 days out to get flights and hotels we wanted. We used Fairmont and Hyatt cards for Maui. Between wife and I we got 8 nights on Maui (4 at Hyatt and 4 at Fairmont) for free. Better value than using UR points. 120k AA miles (love citi..)for condo on Kauai for 7 nights. Flights for 5 on United @ 40k each and Hawaiin miles for hops between islands. We only had rental car, food, and excursions to pay for. Costco on both islands was great place to stock up on supplies.

We are doing Oz and Tahiti for 3.5 weeks this summer on miles and points. Get lots of IHG points for Tahiti, book way in advance. Use AA miles to fly Air Tahiti, UR points for United (business availability open to AUK and then you can use Air new Zealand to hop to SYD. Hope for a flight change and then request the direct to SYD, it worked for us) , BA Avios for hopping around Oz. SPG points for Sheraton in Sydney, Hyatt free nights for Melbourne, Hilton for Alice Springs and Cairns. IHG for Tahiti. Get ambassador status with IHG to get room upgrades in Tahiti. Consider Moorea instead of Bora Bora, much cheaper, less time transfer from main airport. just my opinion.

I have never been just upgraded to anything. Most people are not without status. And it takes a lot of travel and/or spending for that. For them to constantly be upgraded just like that. Luck. YMMV big time.

One thing I’ve learned and you made an excellent point of is availability. Its disapointing when you save points and have your heart set on a certain hotel/airline than it doesn’t come through. Always good to have a back-up plan or know you may even have to pay!