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Without a doubt, one of my favorite spots on earth is Hawaii. Since they have almost 9 million visitors year, I know I’m not alone in that line of thinking. As magical as it is (and it really is), Hawaii is far from the mainland, and is actually one of the most isolated inhabited spots on earth. Getting and staying on this remote island paradise can be time-consuming and expensive, but for us, that just means it is the perfect time to use miles and points to bring the dream into reality. As we work towards hopefully putting together a big extended family trip to Hawaii for next summer, one of the types of points I want to build up are Hilton Honors points as I think they will be very useful in making this trip a reality.
The brand new crop of Hilton Honors Amex Cards including the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card and its up to 100,000 points sign-up bonus present the perfect opportunity to beef up our Hilton balances in advance of the trip. Not only do we have to build our account balance up, but so do the grandparents who will also be making the trip. Here are some ways you could put 100,000 Hilton Honors points + some other new Hilton Amex card perks to use for your own big family trip to Hawaii.
Experience Volcanoes on the Big Island
A big component of this Hawaii trip will include my first time on the Big Island, otherwise known as the Island of Hawaii. My parents plan to make this trip their one and only to Hawaii. This will by far be the longest flight my dad has taken as 3-4 hours in the air at a time is usually his max. However, being the National Park aficionados that they are, they absolutely want to visit Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, as do I. While we are old pros at relaxing at the big Hyatt resort properties on Kauai, Maui, and Oahu, that isn’t going to cut it on the Big Island as there are no Hyatts to be found. There are, however, Hilton properties where we could mix in some pool time with volcanic exploration.
For 40,000 Hilton points per night, you can stay at the newly renovated and rebranded Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo Doubletree in a room with one king or two queen beds with a view of Hilo Bay. Rates at this property can head north of $200 per night if you were paying with cash. While we are talking numbers, their renovation reportedly rang in north of $30 million dollars, so perhaps $200 is a bargain.
The Grand Naniloa is on our list of possible spots to stay for a bit as it looks nice and very functional, but truthfully I think I have my eyes on also enjoying a few nights at the massive 62-acre oceanfront Hilton Waikoloa Village which can go for 60,000 Hilton points per night. That’s not too bad since peak dates often sell for around $300+ per night. This very large property has multiple pools, a snorkeling lagoon, canal boats, trams to explore their tropical grounds, and more. It looks like there is more than enough to do there, so perhaps this is the property to book on the days when we plan to stick closer to the resort.
Relax and Play in Style on Maui
A Hilton property I have always wanted to visit with my family is the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria property, on Maui. I’m an unabashed fan of playing for a few days at a great beach resort with my family, and this one seems to check all the boxes with its water elevator, 9 pools on 6 levels, waterslide, waterfalls, and beachfront location in Wailea. The downside to this on-paper-perfection is the number of points (or dollars) it costs per night. This property can cost 95,000 Hilton points per night for a standard room, so even a 100,000 point sign-up bonus won’t go very far here.
However, this is when you will want to turn to your Hilton weekend award nights. You may still have some weekend Hilton nights to use from some of the old Hilton credit cards, but you can also earn some with the new cards, too.
The Hilton Honors Amex Business Card awards up to two weekend Hilton award nights each year based on your purchases in that calendar year. If your total eligible purchases on the card reach $15,000 or more during a calendar year, you will receive one Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors. If you make an additional $45,000 in purchases in that same calendar year, totaling $60,000 in cumulative spend in that year, you will receive a second Weekend Night Reward from Hilton.
The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card also awards one Weekend Night Reward at a Hilton property after spending $15,000 in purchases on the card in a calendar year.
If you have the $450 per year Hilton Aspire Amex, you get one weekend award night for each year of card membership, as well as the chance to earn a second night with $60,000 annually on the card. You also get an annual $250 Hilton resort statement credit that would be very easy to utilize in Hawaii at a property like the Grand Wailea.
I hope we wind up with at least two weekend award nights to use at this property by the time our trip rolls around, especially since the nearby Andaz Maui has gotten insanely stingy with award nights.
Experience the Magic of Kauai
I haven’t yet been to all of the Hawaiian Islands, but I have a hard time imagining any of them being more magical than Kauai, especially once you get up on the north shore. The green mountains, dramatic sunsets, laid-back atmosphere, and all-around perfection make it one of my absolute favorite spots on earth.
While Hilton doesn’t have a huge presence on Kauai, they do have the Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay that is very near the family-friendly Lydgate Beach and the Smith Family Garden Luau. If you haven’t been to the Smith Family Garden Luau, you really should go as it is our all-time favorite luau. The location of this Hilton property near those spots means it is located at about the halfway point between the magical northern half of the island and the sunny southern half. Spending 40,000 points per night to stay here while enjoying the must-do nearby activities instead of paying the $300+ summer rate sounds pretty great to me.
Take in History on Oahu
Oahu has so much more to offer than just Waikiki, but there’s no escaping that Waikiki makes for a great spot to overnight on the front or backend of your trip since so many flights go through Honolulu. There is more than enough to do in the Waikiki area for 24 hours, and to make all of those must-dos an easy reality, you can book the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Resort for 50,000 points per night. If you need more room to spread out, you can book a one-bedroom suite with a pull-out couch at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Waikiki Beach for 70,000 Hilton Honors points per night. As with all Embassy Suites, at this property, you get free cooked-to-order breakfast and access to the complimentary drinks, snacks, and weekly entertainment at the evening poolside reception.
Not only will our trip likely include at least some time on Oahu as flying from the mainland will be quite enough of a haul for one day with grandparents and little kids, but my parents absolutely want to visit Pearl Harbor on this trip. I have visited this sacred spot before, but my husband and kids have not. While visiting Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial is a very different travel activity than dancing the hula by the ocean, I think it will be a very important lesson for my oldest who will be an incoming 4th grader by next summer. It is just one small step towards my goal of taking our travels a little bit deeper as our family grows and matures.
Status makes it all a little better…and cheaper
I have very few paid Hilton stays each year, but that won’t stop me from having some Hilton elite status when we make this trip. Thanks to the co-branded Hilton cards you can easily get meaningful Hilton status via a variety of pathways.
You can receive complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status just by having the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card or the Hilton Ascend Amex. This is enough to score you additional points, space available upgrades, late check-out, and even free snacks or breakfast, depending on the type of Hilton property you are visiting. This would be very handy at properties such as the Grand Wailea since Waldorf properties were recently announced to be included in the Hilton brands that provide free breakfast of some sort to Gold elites and above.
If you want to upgrade that to Hilton Honors Diamond status, you can do so by spending $40,000 or more in eligible purchases on the Hilton Amex Business Card in a calendar year or you can just get the Hilton Aspire Card, which comes with Hilton Diamond status.
I don’t know yet exactly what our Hawaiian itinerary will look like when all is said and done, but I am certain that Hilton points will play a role in keeping our lodging costs as low as possible while still putting us where we want to be. Have you ever used Hilton points or award nights to piece together a big trip to Hawaii? What are your favorite Hilton properties on the islands?
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Sign-up bonus of up to 100,000 Hilton points. Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months and 25,000 additional bonus points come after you make another $1,000 in purchases on your card in your first 6 months. $95 annual fee. Terms apply.
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.