Well Aloha, I guess…Today is Tuesday, but I got back on Saturday morning from a quick trip to Oahu (Honolulu), Hawaii. Wednesday around 11am, I was just getting really frustrated about Hawaii since we are having our wedding there in May, so I decided to check flights. Flights were extremely reasonable for last minute – around $350 return. I decided I would fly out of Bellingham, Washington on Alaska Airlines and fly back to Vancouver, BC on Air Canada. For the booking, Expedia.ca would not let me book at noon as it was five hours before the flight, so I decided to try out Travelocity as it would allow me to book..in fact if I am not mistaken it may have been $10-$15 less than the price Expedia was showing me.
Not realizing it was pro-bowl weekend, I was in for a surprise when booking a hotel – the cost of hotels on websites for a 3* were $150+ some even being $200+ per night. I decided to give my trusty Priceline a try and was able to steal a deal for around $90 per night for a three star hotel – the Ala Moana Hotel which is right beside the Ala Moana Mall. I was pleasantly surprised with the hotel and although I would not stay there while on vacation I would consider to stay there if I was on business or by myself.
Alaskan Airlines – Bellingham (BLI) – Honolulu (HNL)
Check-in – I am extremely confused with Alaskan Airlines, reason being…on their website they say they are partners with pretty much all the OneWorld airline partners (Cathay Pacific, KLM, Air France, British Airways, etc…), which makes you think they are a OneWorld Partner…So I pulled out my OneWorld status card and jumped in the business class check-in (although, there were only 4 people in front of me in economy check-in), but the guy said they were not one-world. Well in any case I was sent to the back of the economy line and waited my turn to check-in…They advertise on their website that they are partners with them, so I think they should recognize OneWorld Status… Once I got to check-in, I was kindly greeted and told the flight was on time. I was also able to steal an upgrade to business class :)… The flight was due to take-off at approximately 5:20, however everyone was boarded and ready to go at approximately 5:10 so we left 10 minutes early! SWEET!
The seats in Alaska Airlines Business Class are big comfy leather seats, all in fantastic condition – I am not sure, but I had the impression that the aircraft was relatively new. I believe it was a Boeing 737-800 series. Quiet and comfy! The way I like it. I guess their aircrafts are also now equipped with GOGO inflight internet, however it is land based so flying to Hawaiii I was SOL. I was still able to get lots of work done off-line and catch up on emails, etc. The flight attendants on the flight were fantastic, however I thought they were somewhat slow in getting me drinks and ensuring my beer was always full 😦
The food was rather quite delicious from the salad to the bacon wrapped shrimp…It hit the spot! (see pics below). About two hours before the flight landed, the attendants gave out some paper work for Hawaii customs, and then also did a 3-4 minute blurb about the Alaskan Mileage plan credit card… I thought it was somewhat tasteless to do it at that time, I think that should have beend one at the very beginning of the flight or a little closer to the end of the flight – As the flight is approximately six hours long, people are probably sleeping or in my case I was happy with the silence and felt relaxed. About one hour before landing the stewardess came one and said something along the lines of being in the Aloha spirit, we are giving free Mai Tais to anybody 21 years of age or older. Since I was in first class I didn’t have to worry about paying anyways, but I took up the offer for a Mai Tai…it was extremely sweet, but still tasted fine (I think its a mix they use)… Alaska Airlines is a great airline, with good price and would fly them to Hawaii again with no hesitation. – I would really like to see them choose an alliance, stick with it and just tweak a few things…if you can travel with them, they are no frills basic and almost perfect airline in my opinion.. – I don’t care that they do not have an entertainment system…after all now-a-days most people have phones, ipods, tablets, etc. who needs an entertainment system anyways?
Once I arrived in Honolulu, I made my way to Budget rent a car which I also got from my good friends at Priceline.com – I paid about $40 per day, which saved me about $40-$50 in total. I had a nice full size car – I believe it was a Nissan Sentra. In any case, I was more than happy with the vehicle I got. The check-in was easy and check-out was even easier! The only issue I had was the car was quite dirty when I got it, the middle console was sticky and also the car had water marks all over it, especially the mirrors which made it hard to see vehicles behind me in the dark. – All in all it was OK.
While I was in Hawaii for a short two days, I went around and checked out venues and met our priest – he is very interesting and seems like a very kind man. If I am not mistaken he is a Krishna, I do not know much details about the religion or practice, but in any case he seems quite passionate about what he does! – I would be very passionate too, if I wedded people on a beautiful beach in Hawaii for a living. 🙂
As far as receptions go, before I went to Hawaii, I was quite set on Roys Restaurant. I went to check out the venue, however there were some things I didn’t like, so I think I will end up choosing something a little different and probably be catering the Coconut club at the Aston in Waikiki. The food at Roys was fairly decent, but I think it is quite over-priced and perhaps the flavors may be a little too complicated and much. I like to think I have a great palate for food, but there were flavors going round round everywhere! When I travel and when I dine out, I always enjoy a good dessert. My favorite is always a Chocolate Souffle! I am sure I have had atleast two dozen Souffles or “Chocolate Lava Cakes” around the world, but I have to give it to Roys for #2. This goes really high on the list! The #1 place was actually in Santiago, Chile at a place called Astrid & Gaston (Which also goes down as my favorite restaurant in the world!). A few pictures below of food from Roys and the view from Tiki’s.
As a note, I would suggest that if you do go to Hawaii, go to Roys and order the Chocolate Souffle and enjoy a fantastic Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale, it is superb! (You can save yourself the $$$ on the food and enjoy a fantastic dessert and beverage!)
Last but not least, I have to share with you a few pictures of the Coconut Club at Tikis & The Aston hotel in Waikiki – the venue looks fantastic, but the food doesn’t sound amazing as it is buffet…in any case the view will be splendid and the people who join our wedding will make it a wonderful event!
Last but not least, Hawaii was extremely busy for the two days I was there…lots of running around and doing errands, etc. I flew back on Air Canada. Air Canada to me, generally is a great airline…well atleast they have a great rewards program if you travel (We will save that topic for another day).
Air Canada – Honolulu (HNL) – Vancouver (YVR)
Check-in at HNL was great, quick and with my Elite status I was able to zip to business class check-in and not worry about waiting in the long long economy line. I did travel in economy class, since I did not plan my trip far in advance I did not get my usual bulk head seat selection. My seat was an isle of 16D and was extremely uncomfortable as it did not recline. The boeing 767 that Air Canada uses on the Hawaii route is one of their POS aircrafts, no entertainment system, oldy moldy…I was contemplating purchasing an upgrade, but after getting on the aircraft I was glad I didnt since their business class was only big seats and not pods. The pods on almost all of the other Air Canada international flights are amazing! In any case, I was exhausted and fell asleep for almost the whole flight, so it went by quick and I was ok.
Another thing, the Star Alliance Lounge by United Red Carpet Club was super far from the Air Canada gate…literally about a 10+ minute walk…absolutely ridiculous! Good thing Honolulu Airport is cool, there really is nothing there, but it is an open air building so it feels like your walking outside. 🙂
All in all, the trip was a great success and really glad I went to Hawaii for a couple days. It was good to see the place where we will get married, and also help to choose and finalize a place for our reception! I think we will be more than happy with the choices we will make!
A few more pics for ya 🙂