Using Your 100,000 Bonus Hilton Points in Hawaii

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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 Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

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.

Hilton Waikoloa Village

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.

Sunset in Kauai

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.

C enjoying the luau! Can’t wait to get both girls on stage.

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.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Resort

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?

…counting down to this view.

Application Link:

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.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. We used two free weekend night at the Grand Wailea and it was awesome. We happened to go during a big convention so there was no one in the pools. It was like having a waterpark to ourselves. I’d go back there in a heartbeat!

  2. Forget about the Grand Naniloa. Hilo isnt the place and the Grand Naniloa isnt the hotel where you want to be. It´s not up to Hilton standard, even though it´s been sort of renovated.

    The Garden Inn Kauai is excellent on the other hand and hands down one of the best hotels of the chain I´ve been to, if not the best.

    The Hilton in Waikiki Beach is decent too.

  3. The Grand Naniloa is an excellent option. We snorkeled right off the hotel with sea turtles 3/4 days we were there. They also had free cultural presentations each day from Hawaiian music to dancers and kayak rentals you could use to paddle out to the island not too far from the hotel. The free breakfast you get as an elite is also great.

  4. We used ONE MILLION Hilton points for 2 rooms at the Grand Wailea for spring break 3 years ago (earned thanks to the sadly gone gift card extravaganza at CVS!). It was awesome. I am trying to build up my reserve again, as I definitely will go back!

    We also stayed at the Hilton Waikaloa on the Big Island many years ago (September 11, 2001 to be exact, but that is another story). It is very nice, but there is no beach at all except a tiny lagoon. At the time you were able to go to the hotel next store which had an amazing beach, not sure if you still can.

  5. If your doing the big island , I suggest staying at an Airbnb, because you are literally going to wake up and leave your resort everyday to see the beauty on the big island

  6. We stayed at the Grand Wailea for 2 nights using the now defunct Reserve card weekend nights, also as part of an extended family vacation. I think it’s the type of place people either love or hate. You have to try it to know if you will like it or not. For me it was too big and too crowded (in July), not at all peaceful, and the service was impersonal. It didn’t help that my nephew got “written up” (not just scolded) by a staff member for jumping into the pool the first afternoon we arrived. The grandparents liked it because of the beautiful grounds and they were able to hang out at the adult pool, while we were with the kids and crowds at the active pools. I may have liked it better if we stayed longer than 2 nights and had more time to “settle in”. I did like the fact that beach chairs and umbrellas were included and the beach was nice and large. Overall I preferred the Hyatt properties on Maui to this one.

  7. We have been going to the Hawaiian Islands (all except Molokai) almost annually since 1985. Here are some short tips (each island is different and unique):
    1. Maui has been our favorite for the longest time. It has the best beaches, but has become very expensive. If you’re thinking of Maui, stay on the Wailea side of the island and consider the Kea Lani.
    2. The Big Island (Hawaii) is our current favorite: way fewer good beaches, but more reasonably priced. It’s far less densely populated with tourists. Most reasonable place to stay is Hilo where the food/restaurants are the best and quite reasonably priced. However I would stay there for more than a couple of days (to see the volcano) because it rains A LOT on that side of the island. Having stayed at the Naniloa, it may be reasonably priced but DEFINITELY STAY AWAY FROM IT! I cannot recommend it at all. I’m not alone, read the TripAdvisor reviews.
    3. Kauai us the prettiest, greenest and coolest. Depending on the time of the year you go, it can be too cold to go in the water.
    Aloha!

  8. After crossing virtual paths with you at the Hyatt Maui Regency last year, we then headed to the Waikoloa Village. We got pretty good rates for a suite (it was crazy huge), and the resort was the closest to a WDW resort I’ve stayed at not-at-WDW. Lots to do (no beaches–frownie face) on the resort. Biggest downside was the distance to HVNP, but I am still saving up Hilton points for my return. I’d recommend it.

  9. We did Hawaii a few years back, even crossing paths with you at the GH on Kauai. We loved it there, and we are still trying to decide if Hawaii or Orlando will be our next big trip. The downside of Hilton in Hawaii is the lack of clubs for breakfasts. A $10 or $20 credit doesn’t do much if a breakfast for a family sets you back $75 or more. True, you can go outside the hotel, but that isn’t the best for us. We love GH Kauai because of the club and access to breakfast and snacks throughout the day. I’m sure you will plan a great vacation, so I will be reading up on your strategies once you get it settled. Good luck!

    • Yes, GH Kauai is so nice for so many reasons! I imagine some of our time on this trip will be to the GH Kauai. I think this will be quite a large trip to several islands. Can’t wait! I understand how it is hard to pick one spot. We are likely going to Orlando for a brief trip this summer and then Hawaii next summer. Such good problems to have!

  10. We saved up points for a big Hawaii trip the summer of 2016. Parts of it were fast and furious, but we liked fitting in as much as we could and feel like we now have a good idea of where we’d like to visit again.

    1. We started in Maui and used 2 free weekend nights (that used to come with the Hilton card) at the Waldorf Astoria. Surprisingly, we found two more nights on the Citi travel portal that were priced around $350 (a deal!) which we paid for with Citi thank you points. We received an upgrade to a room with an ocean view – and a very nice welcome gift (with only gold status). The kids loved the pool and we took advantage of all the offering that you “paid” for through the resort fee which was waived since we were staying using reward nights.

    2. Next, we flew to the Big Island which was my personal favorite. We flew into Hilo and out of Kona so we could see as much as possible in a few days. We spent one night at Kilauea Military Camp which is located inside Volcanoes NP. It was a gem. It’s different than most military lodging because it is available to any veteran (not just active duty or retired). It wasn’t fancy, but was warm and very affordable, plus the absolute best location for touring the park. After that we moved to the Hilton Waikaloa for two nights and loved it. We booked our room using points during a point sale which helped a bit. We opted for a room in the Makai area and spent 56K/night. While you did have to travel to go to an actual beach, the pool and lagoon at the resort were wonderful. Again, we received an upgrade to an ocean view and were right over the dolphin area (which the kids loved).

    3. Next was Kauai where we spent the first night at the HGI. It was under renovation and we snagged a cash “flash sale” rate for $111.75!! Having Lydgate Park out the back door was a huge plus for a family. At that time there wasn’t a charge for parking which was another plus. Our gold status gave us two delicious breakfasts in their beautiful open air lobby. We spent two more nights at the GH (fantastic).

    4. Our last island was Oahu. We spent five nights at military lodging facilities (Bellows and Hale Koa). Our friends who traveled with us stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village and it was our least favorite resort. It was very crowded and the pools were tiny. The only hot tub we ever found was in an obscure location near a rooftop pool. We enjoyed the shopping area which was festive and fun. Waikiki in general isn’t an area I’d pick if going back to Oahu. The beach was crowded, small, and touristy. It was fun to stroll one night, but that was all I needed to say “been there, done that” – there were too many other areas that are nicer.

    It was an amazing trip and we were only able to do it through collecting points and miles! Having Hilton gold status, which came with our credit card, gave us room upgrades, late checkouts, a free gift of Big Island cookies, an excellent breakfast, and access to the spa (I loved that benefit!). We managed to book all our flights using a variety of points (that was a creative challenge), to include Southwest (first leg), British Airways and Alaska on AA (second leg), United on Hawaiian Airlines (island to island) and Delta (return flights)!! I appreciate your work through “Mommy Points” which helps my family travel to places we otherwise could not 🙂 Thank you!

  11. Would like to add to this discussion that there’s an Amex offer for buying $50.00 Hilton gift cards with a $10.00 credit offered, so you might want to check your Amex offers and see if this Hilton one is listed. My husband and I have purchased several of these gift cards specifically with Hawaii in mind as we like to stay on points redemptions and dine on the properties using the gift cards.

  12. I’ll share our experience since I’ve learned so much from this site. We stayed at the Grand Wailea four years ago for Springbreak and it was magnificent! We paid for our room (this before we joined the points game) with two queen beds and it was very comfortable and quiet for us and our two “man sized” teenage boys. The lobby and grounds are so beautiful, the daily brunch was good (which was complementary for us) and the day’s we missed they packed for us in reusable thermal bags which happened two times. If you like crowds this is the place. The beach is nice but you have to score chairs and umbrellas early and can’t hold them with your stuff. We had a body parked there at all times. It’s a nice location and the water calm. Not enough waves for our boys and they NEVER went in the pools because they were too crowded and seemed “gross.” Our new go to on Maui is the Montage. It’s outstanding! I don’t think it’s part of a chain (maybe Ritz) but it had everything we wanted. Very roomy gorgeous hotel/condo, quiet, amazing staff, snorkeling, cliff diving, hiking (all right out side your door), few nice restaurants nearby. Best wishes on a great trip!

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