Trip Report: Anniversary Trip to Hawaii, part one, Maui


Last month, to celebrate two glorious years of wedded bliss, the hubby and I packed up our swimsuits and sunscreen and headed off to Paradise itself.  The first part of the trip took us to Maui, and the Andaz Hyatt resort, but of course first, we had to get to Hawaii.

We had managed to nab positioning flights from Austin to Los Angeles on United at the Saver level, making the first leg of our trip free.  However, less-than-helpful gate agents refused to check our luggage all the way through to Maui, despite the fact that HawaiianAir is a codeshare partner of United, making our travel certainly more cumbersome than it needed to be.

The second leg of our flight on HawaiianAir from LAX to Maui was much more pleasant, however, and we celebrated with our first Mai Tais of the trip.  Pro-tip from our flight attendant?  Mix the canned airplane Mai Tai with their fresh guava juice – it’ll taste more authentic.  We had paid for this leg of the flight ourselves instead of using points, as we explained in an earlier post, and I still think that was a pretty good deal.

Finally, after about 12 total hours of travel, we reached our destination and set off in a rental car for the Andaz Maui.  The Andaz is located in Wailea, and is a top-level Hyatt points redemption, meaning you’ll shell out 25k points per night for the privilege to stay there.  We transferred over the 100k points needed for 4 nights from our Chase Sapphire account, and so this leg of our trip was also free.  We were also pleased to see that because we were on a points stay, the daily resort fee had also been waived.

Standard garden view room. Note the somewhat weird feature of the shower shudders opening to the bedroom…

The one downside to booking as a full-points transaction however is that we received a garden view room, and no amount of asking nicely or minor bribery (we slid the reception agent a $20 with our id, which she politely declined…) could change this, apparently. The Points Guy recently detailed a strategy for getting in a poolside suite for around $500 a night using an Amex Platinum card, or you could attempt a combination of booking paid nights in an upgraded room or suite with the two free nights you get with the Hyatt Visa credit card. But if you’re going for a points-only strategy, chances are, it’s the standard room for you.

Free umbrellas, loungers, chair covers, and side table down at the beach.

We compensated by simply not spending much time in the room.  The real value of this property, in my mind, is the great beach access. The beach club attendants would set up chairs, a side table, and an umbrella for you as soon as you stepped a toe on the sand and the snorkeling right off the beach was pretty decent as well – we saw a couple of sea turtles.  And whenever you tired of the beach, the four different infinity pools made sure you could soak up some more sun without having to compete for space around the pool.

Brunch at the Ka’ana Kitchen. Guava mimosas and bao buns were good, everything else was just ok.

The food around the resort was only ok, though. The rather expensive brunch buffet at the Ka’ana Kitchen was somewhat meh, and even the 7-course omokasse menu at Morimoto‘s paled in comparison to our local favorite Uchiko.  Our best meal – by far – in Maui came from Mama’s Fish House in Paia.  If you’re considering whether to make the trip, go, absolutely, it’s worth it.

Grilled swordfish at Mama’s Fish House.  Amazing.

Also while on Maui we did a day trip to see part of the Road to Hana, visited the Tedeschi winery where we sampled pineapple wine, and also made a stop by Twin Falls.  Unfortunately it had rained the night before our visit to the Falls and so they were more “raging rapids” than “tranquil wateralls” – check out what we saw versus what we were supposed to see in this side by side photo:

Top photo is Twin Falls after a night of rain; bottom is the normal waterfall level.

A snorkeling trip to Molokini and a shopping trip plus luau in Lahaina completed this leg of the trip for us, and we were definitely sad to leave.  After visiting the Big Island and Oahu during the later parts of our trip, we came to realize that Maui was our “Goldilocks island” – not too busy and crowded, not too quiet and desolate – Maui was just right.

Dancers at the Old Lahaina Luau.

Stay tuned tomorrow when I detail our time on the Big Island at the Fairmont Orchid.