Showing posts with label boomers in Hawaii. Show all posts
Showing posts with label boomers in Hawaii. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Same Time Next Year Travel

The waves crash against the shore this week signaling a storm at sea somewhere out in the vast Pacific Ocean. This is the season of big waves in Hawaii - it was the same last year and the years before. It will likely be the same this time next year.

Waves break at Ko Olina O'ahu

The rhythm of the winter sea is familiar to us because for more than a decade of our lives we have lived in Hawaii this time of year.

We are among the 'same time next year' interval ownership residents at KoOlina, the planned unit development on the west coast of the island of O'ahu.

Lagoon path to Four Seasons and Aulani, a Disney resort

KoOlina, Hawaiian for 'place of joy', encompasses an 18-hole golf course, marina, Four Seasons Hotel, Aulani, a Disney Hotel and Marriott's Vacation Beach Club - not to mention several hundred single family residences (many of which are vacation rentals).

For us, the purchase of a Marriott timeshare week -- followed by the purchases of two additional weeks a few years later  -- has made this tropical spot our 'third place' -- the place we live in between Greece and Washington State. Our time here equals that spent in Washington.

Same Time Next Year Lifestyle


KoOlina views

Not too many weeks ago, back in Greece, friends were discussing all the places they'd like to see in the world. They scoffed at those people who return to the same place year after year. 'With so much world to see, why would anyone want to do that?' they asked.

'Don't condemn it until you've tried it!' I cautioned, while admitting there had been a time I shuddered at the thought of repeatedly returning to the same destination, but that was also back when I was declaring myself, 'not a timeshare person!'


Palm trees at sunset - Ko Olina

I remind myself often while watching waves and swaying palms, to 'never say never' when it comes to travel options I haven't yet tried. Had we not tried this part-time tropical life we'd have never known the joys of transplanting ourselves each year to a place that is somewhat familiar, yet vastly different, from the lives we lead both in Greece and on the mainland U.S.

A change from our Greek home

Our laid-back retired life here is one in which there is laundry and dishes to wash, dinner to make, shopping and errands to run. Yet with restaurants, bars and resort swimming pools only footsteps away, it is a change from living on our hillside above a Greek village. Here we live in a high-rise condominium (washers, dryers, televisions and dish washers!) on a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

We entered this world long before becoming expats in Greece. At the time we thought we were preparing for 'old age' travels -- a safe, secure and relatively close getaway only a six hour flight from Seattle.  Our travel time has increased to some 20+hours from Greece but still we return each year because it is such an interesting and different way of living.

Our high-rise condo is on the 15th floor this year
Because of our interval ownership, we live in an ocean-front condo, steps from the sea. Similar full-ownership condos next door sell for millions of dollars.  And had we not purchased a place here our four-week stay - renting from Marriott -- would have cost  $17,440 US dollars plus taxes. (I can assure you our annual maintenance fees are a far cry less than that!)

Our purchases were made back when you literally bought 1/52 ownership each year of real property.  Nowadays the Marriott timeshare program has gone to a purchase of points to be used at any number of properties around the world. We find the ownership of points to be somewhat nebulous. Had that been the only option 'back when', we likely wouldn't have made the leap.

KoOlina, Hawaiian for 'place of joy'

Even though we prefer to spend most of our interval time in Hawaii, we have the flexibility to trade into other properties. This spring we will spend a week outside Paris, thanks to that trade option.

In researching this article I found some interesting statistics showing just how popular this interval lifestyle is:  we are among 20 million households in the world that own at least one timeshare, according to the Timeshare Consumer Guide. The guide also reports there are more than 7,400 timeshare resorts in 180 countries. On average each year the world-wide total sales volume exceeds 14 billion $US.

Same Time Next Year Friendships

Same time next year friends watch sunset at home

What we hadn't imagined back at the time of that initial purchase was the new world of friendships that would open to us.  We literally have 'same time next year' friends who return in January/February from far distant points in the world.  Some are new friends who we've met at KoOlina and others are friends with decades of history together.  While in the beginning our times together were happenstance, these days -- thanks to social media -- we stay in touch throughout the year and try to start our residencies at roughly the 'same time next year'.

Same time, next year lifestyle

Even with the slow-paced lifestyle, our days seem to go quickly. We are half way through our time in the tropics. In two weeks time we will be back in the wintery Pacific Northwest for a few days as we make our way back to Greece.

It won't be long before we are calling out to friends here, 'Same time, next year!'

We thank you for the time you've spent with us today and hope your travels are as filled with good times and good friends as is our tropical getaway.  Thanks to all who've let me know you are again receiving these in your inbox. Fingers crossed that the distribution continues working!

Linking this week with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Waikiki ~ A Royal Pink Palace Celebration

Once upon a time in the middle of the Pacific Ocean there was an island kingdom; a land of islands ruled by kings and queens. . . a Land we now call ‘Hawaii’. . .

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Island of Lanai - Hawaii
Visitors who spend anytime in Hawaii will soon be caught up in its history and the stories of those who ruled that not-so-long-ago Kingdom. Reminders and tributes are everywhere from the Kamehameha Highway to Queen’s Hospital.

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Island of Oahu, Hawaii
Among the Royalty were – just to name a few -- King Kamehameha, also known as Kamehameha the Great, who conquered most of the Hawaiian Islands and formally established the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi in 1810. . . and Queen Emma, consort of King Kamehameha IV. . . and King Kalakaua, and finally Queen Lili’uokalani the last reigning monarch of the Kingdom of Hawai’i. She reigned until the overthrow of the Kingdom in 1893.

The history of the Kingdom, the arrival of Christian missionaries, the introduction of sugar cane and pineapple production, its tourism industry and the road to statehood in 1959, is multifaceted. Today I am focusing on one small but important part of its fascinating story . . .

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel ~ The Pink Palace of the Pacific

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Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Waikiki Beach - Honolulu
If you look closely at my photo above you’ll see the iconic Royal Hawaiian Hotel, ‘the Pink Palace of the Pacific’ tucked away in the shadow of modern high-rise hotel towers. What a contrast to when she reigned over Waikiki Beach as shown in the photo below. The Grand Old Queen of the Beach celebrates her 90th anniversary this month.

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Royal Hawaii Hotel - Photo, Historic Hawaii Foundation Collection
The first Royal Hawaiian Hotel was originally built in downtown Honolulu to house visiting dignitaries. Opening in 1871 it was called the Hawaiian Hotel, then soon after King Kalakaua came into power in 1874, it was called the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. In the early 1900’s, with the hotel in decline, the YMCA took over the building and Matson Navigation Company bought the name.

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The Regal Entry to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel
Opening at its present-day Waikiki location on February 1, 1927, the new Royal Hawaiian Hotel drew 1,200 attendees to its opening night gala.  The hotel’s Spanish-Moorish style was popular in the 1920’s, partially due to the popularity of Rudolph Valentino, an Italian actor who often portrayed Arab sheiks in movies, according to Bob Sigall, who writes “Rearview Mirror” for the Honolulu Star Advertiser Sunday Magazine.

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Promotional posters from yesteryear on display at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel
With the hotel’s opening, the era of luxury travel to Hawaii had begun. Matson Navigation Co. operated two cruise ships, the Lurline and the Matsonia that traveled between California and Honolulu. Passengers sailed on the luxury liners and then stayed in luxurious surroundings at the Royal Hawaiian. (Matson ultimately owned four hotels in Hawaii and in 1959 sold them to Sheraton for $18 million.)

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If the walls could talk - Royal Hawaiian Hotel - Honolulu
Those early day cruisers after being welcomed with leis and serenaded by the Royal Hawaiian Band at the pier were treated to a lawn party at the hotel. While guests partied, servants unpacked their bags, according to Sigall.

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Wall map in entry way of Royal Hawaiian Hotel - Honolulu
During World War II tourism tanked. The luxury cruise ships were painted war-time gray and became troop transport ships while the Navy took over the Royal Hawaiian, paying $17,500 a month rent. The hotel was then used for a Rest and Relaxation (R and R) facility for troops. It didn’t take long after the war for tourism to return and the hotel reopened to resume hosting the luxury traveler.

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Ceilings in the Royal Hawaiian - Pink Palace of the Pacific - Hotel 
Hawaiians like to ‘talk story’ and among the hotel’s stories is one explaining its pink color:  it was inspired by the colors of homes in Portugal, many of which, back in the 1920’s, were painted pink with blue shutters.

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William "Chick" Daniels - Royal Hawaiian Hotel - Honolulu
A look at the history of the ‘Pink Palace’ wouldn’t be complete without mention of the Waikiki ‘beach boys’ –  those talented and athletic young Hawaiians who taught visitors how to surf and to use outrigger canoes.  There’s a photo display at the hotel that pays tribute to one of their favorite ‘beach boys’:  William ‘Chick’ Daniels (1899-1982).  Chick, as he was called, began his 50-year career at the Royal Hawaiian in 1927. He became their Head Beach Attendant.

This talented waterman was also a musician and entertained guests by day then performed with his band, the ‘Royal Hawaiians’ at night. They performed at the hotel’s opening gala. Years later, he wrote the Hawaiian song, “Lei Aloha” which he performed in New York on the Arthur Godfrey radio show.

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Waikiki Beach - Honolulu, Hawaii
It was a different time, those glory days of luxury in the ‘Pink Palace’. The price of a ticket to that that opening gala cost $10 per person, or about $150 by today’s standards.

But it’s not too late to have a taste of the elegance: The hotel’s 90th Anniversary Gala is slated for March 3rd, tickets are $350 per person with all proceeds going to the ALS Association. The event, housed in the hotel’s elegant Monarch Room, will include a cocktail reception, three-course meal, entertainment and silent auction. Tickets are still available. For information: royalhawaiian90thgala@luxurycollection.com or (808) 931-7912.

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Window display hotel shop - Royal Hawaiian Hotel
If you want a bit more ‘talk story’ about the ‘Pink Palace’ the hotel’s historian, Kehaulani Kam, leads one hour tours twice a week. They currently begin at 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Contact the hotel for details, (808) 923-7311.

Aloha for this week. If you have a story about the Royal Hawaiian we invite you to tell us about it in the comments below or send us an email and we’ll add your story. The hotel wants to hear your memories, so hashtag it, #Royal90.  May your travels be happy and healthy! Hope you’ll be back next week and bring a friend or two with you.

Linking up with:
Linking with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration .

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hanapepe ~ Beyond the Beach and Back in Time

We aren't the lay-in-the-sun, bake-yourself-on-the-beach-people we were a few decades ago. So it isn't just the inviting beachscape, toasty sun and rolling waves alone that bring us to Hawaii each year. It is all the amazing places this island state has tucked away beyond its beaches that bring us back as well.

Just last week during a trip to Kauai's west side, we found ourselves doing a bit of time travel. . .

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Hanapepe Swing Bridge - Kauai

. . .during a visit to Hanapepe (ha-na-pay-pay), a little spot that proudly calls itself Kauai's 'biggest little town'. It may be small, but it is one of our favorite destinations on this island.

Walking across the town's swing bridge that connects the old Main Street to the fertile valley on the other side of the Hanapepe River, we couldn't help but think of a time - long before Captain Cook visited in 1778 - when ancient Hawaiians populated the area. The main staple grown in the area was 'kalo' or taro as it is commonly called today. The area's earliest commerce was the trading of salt from the Hanapepe ponds. The 1880's brought sugar cane cultivation and that drew Chinese, Japanese, Filipino and Portuguese immigrants to work in the fledgling industry.

These days the old foot bridge - once a transportation link between the fields and the town - is a source of entertainment for tourists who want to test their courage in walking across the creaking, swaying structure. Visitors who make it across the bridge are asked to turn around and not disturb the residents who make their home on the other side of the river. (The original bridge was destroyed during Hurricane Iniki's rampage over the island back in 1992 and was rebuilt and strengthened as part of the storm recovery efforts.)

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Hanapepe - Kauai's biggest little town or so they say!
Hanapepe, 18 miles (29 kilometers) from Lihue (where the island's major airport is located), was a bustling economic center from the early 1900's through World War II. Bars and shops lined its streets. Two movie theatres and three skating rinks were in operation. You can't see the ocean from its historic Main Street, but it isn't far away.

By recent accounts, there are more than 40 buildings and structures along the old Main Street that qualify for state and national historic status, but no one in this laid-back part of the island has gotten around to doing any of the required paperwork to get them recognized.

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One of the old theatres in Hanapepe

That doesn't mean the town doesn't take pride in its history!  A stroll from one end of the street to the other provides a fascinating glimpse into the 'way it was'  thanks to the photographs from yesteryear, each displayed with a paragraph or two telling the story of how it used to be. Hawaiian 'talk story' at its finest.

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History proudly displayed in Hanapepe

Today many of the old wooden structures house tourist shops and art galleries. An old service station is now a convenience store. A former  bar is  home to a bakery. Each shop and the building it is housed in has an interesting story behind it. All are worth a visit, but the one that brought us back to this quaint little spot we'd discovered two years ago, was Talk Story Bookstore; 'the westernmost independent bookstore in the United States'. We simply had to see the store's cat again and to purchase some books.

Owners Ed and Cynthia Justus opened the store 12 years ago with no business plan in mind, he told us.  They were simply moving their ebay business to a storefront. Today they have 100,000 books from which to choose, new, used, collectibles and rare and receive 3,000 new books a month. (To give you an idea of the variety of books in this small, unassuming-looking store, I purchased a book called "Savushun" a novel about modern Iran. It was the first novel ever published in that country by an Iranian woman).

And yes, the cat came to greet us just as it had during our first visit here two years ago.


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Talk Story Bookstore

We also returned to the fragrant shop - just down the street in another old wood frame structure - of the Aloha Spice Company. We couldn't resist buying couple of packages of Anahola Granola. The company was started by Becky, a single mom, who lived in Kauai's Anahola.  She was born and raised in Orcas Island and Seattle, Washington. The early '80's found her living in Kauai and a few years later she began selling her homemade granola in at a farmers market. Today several varieties are commercially packages and sold including the "Tropical" mix which combines macadamia nuts, sun-ripened papaya, pineapple, sweet coconut, whole grain oats, nutritious seeds and Hawaiian honey. Who could resist that wholesome combination, right?

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A mouth-watering and fragrant stop in Hanapepe, Kauai

Across the street, as we'd peered through the screen door of the Midnight Bear Bakery, the driver of a delivery truck parked nearby called out to us, "That is the best bakery on the island. I make it a point to stop here every time I come to this side of the island." With that kind of recommendation who wouldn't go inside?  It was soon decision time: Meyers Lemon Danish or Macademia Nut Cinammon Rolls? The just-out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls won out, but next time, we'll throw calorie-counting to the wind and try the Danish as well!

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Scene from Old Main Street Hanapepe

Another thing we'll make it a point to do next time is to return for their Friday Night Art Walk which takes place every week from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. It is the biggest event in the island's biggest little town!

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Bridge over the Hanapepe River - Kauai

That's it for this week. Time to go enjoy a bit of that tropical sunshine. We'll be back next week and until then our wishes for safe and happy travels!
Aloha~

Linking this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Travel Inspiration

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

First a trip to Costco, then to Hawaii

Based on temperature alone it really seemed a no brainer, that decision of ours eight days ago, to head to Hawaii sooner than our planned mid-January departure.

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Directional sign Kaua'i
2017 began at our Seattle area home with daytime temperatures in the low 30F’s (-1C) and nighttime’s dropped to 20’s (-6.6C) and below. Snow had dusted our lawn and blanketed other surrounding areas.

In Hawaii day time temperatures were 79F (26C) and nighttime 67F (19C).

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Beach on Kaua'i
A no brainer for sure.  But we were already booked to depart in mid-January for our timeshare life on Hawaii’s island of O’ahu and weren’t sure that a last-minute change of airline tickets and finding a reasonably priced accommodation on short notice was in the realm of possibility.

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Sunrise island of Kaua'i

We put our spur-of-the-moment idea into action by checking the rental sites that specialize in timeshare and interval-home rentals. Our reasoning was that having a kitchen and eating at home would save both money and calories. Our go-to sites include Redweek.com and TUG.com (timeshare users group).  While both sites offered plenty of  ‘short-notice’ choices, the prices were somewhat inflated to our way of thinking, which might have been why they were still available only a week before the rental period would start.

Of course, we are talking January, the highest of high seasons – when many, like us, are desperate to leave the cold behind - so we expanded our search to include hotels. The destination didn’t matter, we were open to staying on any of Hawaii’s eight major islands.

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Mural - Maui, Hawaii
Hawaii, our youngest state, sits in the Pacific Ocean southwest of the United States mainland, and is made up of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and undersea seamounts that extend 1,500 miles from the Big Island (Hawaii) in the south to the Kure Atoll in the north. (Early day explorer James Cook happened upon them in 1778 and named them The Sandwich Islands, not because of their grouping but to honor the First Lord of the Admiralty John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich.)

State of Hawaii
Our search took us to our favorite booking sites including Kayak.com, Hotwire.com and Orbitz.com. In each case accommodations could be had, but when coupled with the potential airline change fee, a week’s rental car and a possible inter-island flight, we’d just about given up when a TripAdvisor reviewer mentioned traveling there via a Costco Travel Package. . .hmmmm, hadn’t thought to check there . . .


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Maui, Hawaii
Costco, for those who aren’t familiar with the name, is a big-box, big-quantity warehouse-type store, that got its start in our town, Kirkland, Washington, several decades ago. There are now 674 Costco stores world-wide including those in Canada, Australia, Mexico, United Kingdom, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. It is a membership store that we’ve belonged to for many years.

In addition to large quantity supplies and food, we’ve found some of the best prices for rental cars are on its on-line travel site and we check there routinely before booking cars. (By booking through Costco the second driver  - me! - is always free.  That isn’t always the case when booking directly with the car company.)  Thinking back, a couple years ago we booked a Hawaiian get-away package for a hotel that had provided us a few nights of fun in Waikiki. Why hadn’t we thought of it earlier?!

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Beach - Lana'i Island
Once again, Costco came through with a six-night getaway package on Kaua’i, nicknamed The Garden Island for its lush foliage that carpets its hillsides and valleys.

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Kaua'i - the Garden Island
The package includes: six nights in a standard room at the Marriott Courtyard Coconut Beach, near Kapaa, an Alamo full-size rental car, buffet breakfasts for two, and a $50 gift card to Costco.  The hotel’s daily $20 fee is extra.

So was it a real savings? Yes! To the tune of $800, as a matter of fact.  We compared the prices of renting the hotel either from one of the sites mentioned above or from Marriott, the cost of renting the car (through Costco) and of paying for the breakfast separately. Our cost would have been $1,986 but instead paid the package price of $1,194.  The buffet breakfasts alone cost $23 per person and that would have amounted to $276.

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Saved money changing our flights
The change fee with Alaska Air was a $125 per ticket, but the fare to Kauai was less than that we’d paid to Honolulu, so our change resulted in a $65 refund! (Sometimes changes do work to the benefit of the passenger, you just don’t hear about them as often as the horror stories related to cost increases.)

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Hybiscus bloom - Hawaii
The inter-island flights will cost about $200, which we reason, we’d have easily spent going out for dinner and wine a couple of times here in the frigid Northwest.

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Land of Aloha 
So here we are in Kauai where the morning temperature is 66F at 6 a.m. The Weather Channel tells us it is 35F and snowing back in Kirkland.  We standing on our deck barefoot wearing tee shirts and shorts, toasting the new day with a cup of Starbucks, awaiting sunrise.  Yes, that spur of the moment idea was a no brainer - and a good one at that! 

When we began the blog one of our purposes was to share tips about travel deals – and sources for travel deals – with our friends.  I want to assure you we don’t get any kick-backs or deals from the companies we recommend, including those mentioned in this post.  It was just such a good deal – and such an easily missed one – that we wanted to tell you about it. It also is a reminder to ourselves to think outside the usual box when we come up with one of these last-minute travel ideas.

Well be back next week and hope to see you here as well.  Until then, Ahh-Low-HA! as we say in Hawaii! 

Linking up with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Travel Inspiration

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