Thursday, May 1, 2014

a shopping chain made our vacation happen


So, we just got back from a week in Kauai. Before I tell you all about our trip, though, I have to share with you how it happened. It's pretty awesome.

Long story short, we had to get to Kauai at the end of April because our friend Alanna was getting married. We decided to make it a vacation and extend the trip a few days on either end, and thanks to a bunch of random incidents, we were able to make it happen. That's where we left off last time we talked about it.
the beach in front of our hotel, the Aston Islander on the Beach in Kapa'a Town
Here's the thing, though. I knew next to nothing about Kauai when we started planning the trip, so the initial process of picking places to stay was really difficult. I've heard 100 different things from 100 different people about the best hotels to book and the best beaches for snorkeling and the best part of the island to rent a room, and soon I was swimming in way too much information.

Adding to all of that, flights from our town to Kauai at this time of year were going to be a LOT of money, so we didn't really have a ton of wiggle room in terms of rooms and a rental car (which was a necessity in our case because we had to make it to the wedding at the very least).

Headache central.
To save on some of the headache, I started looking at vacation packages on sites like Livingsocial and Groupon. My extensive (ugh) research showed that the pricing on these packages were comparable or cheaper than booking everything separately, and they would save me some hassle by picking the town in which we would be staying. We jumped around a bit before landing on the surprising winner: Costco Travel.

Yep, turns out our membership is good for more than bulk groceries and a fabulous return policy. All things held constant, Costco's prices were a good $500 cheaper than any other travel site I checked, and trust me when I said I checked a lot of them. Most of the packages included fun extras, too: some had extra tours, some included free upgrades for room or car, and some had daily breakfasts for two! You could also upgrade or downgrade in a few places to control the experience you wanted, which was pretty cool; we upped our room's view and downgraded to a compact car.
I just entered Kauai as our destination, selected our dates of travel (settling on a Tuesday-to-Monday schedule because it was the least expensive), and added in the required details (class of travel, number of people, include a car, etc), and hit search. There were only a few packages in Kauai from which I could choose, which for me was great: eenie-meenie-meiney-mo!

We ended up picking a hotel package in Kapa'a Town, a town on the western coast of the island. For our first trip to Kauai, it was a good location because it was almost equidistant between the beautiful North Shore and the Poipu area, from where most of our excursions departed. We did a LOT of driving, but feel like we know enough of the island to pick a spot to stay next time :)

Our hotel. Our first room was garden and partial ocean view, and we later moved to an ocean front room. See why below:

We ended up staying at the Aston Islander on the Beach, an older plantation-style beachfront hotel on six acres. I took a gamble on selecting this hotel, because the reviews on Costco.com weren't great. Turns out, reviews are helpful little tidbits; should have listened to them! So, future reference, the Aston Islander on the Beach in Kapa'a isn't fancy or updated in any way.
Our teeny oceanfront room with mini-fridge and microwave.
 They were also undergoing construction, which was a fun surprise. To be fair, we booked pretty early so the construction notification hadn't been posted on the hotel website yet.... and there really isn't a great time to undergo construction. But still. This was our view on one side of our balcony:
View from our balcony the first half of our trip.
...and this was our view on the other side:
Aston Islander on the Beach Construction
The caution fencing and scaffolding is a nice touch, huh? Now add in jackhammers, nail guns, table saws, and other myriad power tools. Happy Vacation? The part that irked me was that I'd sprung and paid extra for an ocean view, which we sort of had, but construction was so loud outside during the day that we couldn't even open the slider. The final straw happened on our third night, when our fridge malfunctioned and leaked a huge puddle of water across the tile floor and soaked up into the clothes still in my suitcase. Not thrilled.
The lanai view from the second half of our week.
 Customer service was very gracious and apologetic, and they moved us to an ocean-front room free of charge (uh, duh!), as well as removed ALL of the daily resort fees. Whoo!
We had breakfast on the balcony every morning. I will blame Tim's beer on jetlag; our bodies thought it was afternoon...?
Despite the oddness of the hotel itself, I was really happy with our experience with Costco Travel, and I will definitely consider them again for our next vacation. We saved enough money on the room/car/flight package to go on two excursions while we were there: an ATV adventure and a snorkel trip around the Na'Pali coast. We also got in a bunch of beach and snorkel time AND had the wedding day, too, so it was a packed trip! More on all that later :)

*I was not compensated for this post, I just had a great experience using Costco for our vacation and wanted to share!

1 comment:

  1. Who would have thought you could book a vacation through Costco? Looks like you had a great time! Love your pictures!
    -Meg
    www.smalltownsisters.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

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