A Beautiful & Memorable Honeymoon
Photos from our honeymoon!
Beautiful & Memory Honeymoon in Maui!
After a gorgeous wedding day in Atlanta, GA in late February 2016, Mrs and I were extremely excited to be on the way to our honeymoon in Maui, HI. The preparation for this trip started only 2 months prior, since neither of us were certain that an extended vacation was possible given the nature of our work. At this point, it was rather difficult to find award availability for airfares (and a hectic schedule prevented more dedicated time to find alternative options). Note: when planning for award travels, it is important to plan as far out ahead as possible. This is because award availability is limited (both for airlines and hotels), so first come first serve.
Since Atlanta is a major hub for Delta airlines, we decided to book a Delta flight from Atlanta to Maui, with a connection at Los Angeles. We redeemed two one-way tickets in economy at a cost of 27,500 Delta Skymiles each. Thanks to sign-up bonus of the American Express Reward Premier Gold (RPG) credit card, we have more than enough Skymiles to book for our flight. An additional benefit of the RPG gold card is that it comes with a $100 travel credit per calendar year, which we used to upgrade our seats from economy to Delta Comfort+ seats providing us with extra legroom on the long flights over to Maui.
Being Delta Comfort+ ticket holders, we were given SkyPriority boarding, allowing us to board the plane before passengers in Groups 1-4. This is important because we got earlier dips on the coveted overhead bins for carry-on storage. We made one celebrity sighting on our ATL-LAX flight. Actually it was Mrs. who first saw Dylan McDermott (American Horror Story) and (I presume) his daughter walking towards the First class cabin with lie-flat seats on the Boeing 767-300 aircraft. We spent the next 4 hours or so enjoying complimentary drinks and in-flight entertainment en route to LAX.
Upon arriving at Terminal 5 at LAX, we took advantage of the Delta Skyclubs lounge access provided by the American Express Platinum charge card and accessed the Skyclub lounge in the terminal (single day pass costs $59 per person). The Delta Skyclub lounge offers complimentary wine and beer, as well as a variety of food options including chicken-salad, a delicious Thai noodle soup and cookies! This particular lounge also has shower facilities whereby patrons can get refreshed after a long flight.
Our flight from LAX to Maui (OGG) was delayed for an hour while the mechanics tried to fix a nonfunctional toilet on board the plane (leaving more than 100 or so non-first class passengers with only working one toilet for a ~6 hour flight!). After spending 3 hours in the lounge, enjoying the free wifi, food and beverage offerings, we were ready to board our plane to Maui and start our honeymoon. Since the flight departed LAX at 10PM PST, we slept for a majority of the flight.
When we landed in Maui, it was already 1AM local time. But thanks to the nap we had on the flight over, we felt alert enough for the hour drive from the airport to the resort where we would be staying for the next 5 nights. We reserved a rental car from Alamo using the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, which provides the card holder primary rental car insurance, saving us about ~$250 in rental insurance from the rental car company.
Last summer I had signed up for the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) credit card issued by American Express with the intention of using the sign-up offer to book a place to stay for our honeymoon. The Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa is a beautiful resort complex located on Kaanapali Beach in the northwestern part of Maui. With a combination of the sign-up offer from the Starwood Preferred Guest card and points transferred from the American Express Member Rewards program, we booked 5 nights at the Sheraton Maui and thanks to the SPG Gold elite status provided by the American Express Platinum charge card (and maybe because we were honeymooners in Hawaii for the first time), we were upgraded from a resort view room to an ocean view one bedroom suite at the time of check-in.
Over the next 6 days, we spent time relaxing on the beautiful Kaanapali beach and soaking up the sun, took a whale watch tour abroad the inflatable raft Ocean Adventurer from the Pacific Whale Foundation, shopped and dined at the seaside town of Lahaina, and drove 10,000 ft to the summit of Haleakala.
Before we know it, it was time to leave paradise and return home. For our flight home, we redeemed two one-way United tickets from Maui to Chicago nonstop (25,000 United miles per ticket) using the sign-up bonus offer from the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card.
It was a wonderful trip and experience - not only were we able to celebrate our new marriage and explore and experience a place neither of us had ever been to before, we were able to do so with minimal out of pocket expense. We spent about $700 or so altogether, for food, entertainment and souvenirs.
To put the savings in perspective, we had saved ~ $10,000 for this 6 day/5 night trip by taking advantage of various credit card sign-up offers:
ATL-LAX-OGG: redeemed 55,000 Delta Skymiles (~$1,400)
OGG-ORD: redeemed 50,000 United miles ($2,800)
Upgrades to Delta Comfort+: used Reward Premier Gold travel credit (~$150)
Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa: redeemed 60,000 SPG points (~$5,500)
Dinner at the Delta Skyclub lounge: complimentary access for American Express Platinum card holders ($109 if paying for lounge access, or worth at least $20 if buying dinner in airport restaurants)
We enjoyed Maui so much so that we are currently planning a return there to celebrate our one year anniversary!