Wednesday, October 28, 2009

July trip- The Big Island

My daughter Genevieve is growing up fast and I have been able to sneak in a couple of trips here and there. We had our first real trip this past July when we went to the Big Island of Hawaii. She was 14 months old and she had just started walking so there was a lot of chasing and lugging during this vacation.  It was me, the baby, the baby stroller, the diaper bag, her toys, two suitcases, and a car seat.  Whew!  If any of you are traveling with a little one for the first time, please feel free to call me.  I think I'm pretty good at this now! 

We flew on United which took about 5 hours nonstop both ways.  The flight over there was horrific thanks to a couple of extremely rude flight attendants and the fact that it was my first trip alone with the baby .  I also booked the baby as a lap child and it was a very full flight.  The only thing that saved me was my upgrade to economy plus which I purchased for $49 each way. You have several inches more legroom which is great for people traveling with babies and any tall traveler.  After picking up the luggage fit for a U-haul truck (I always try to travel lightly but it never seems to work out), I was transferred over to the Hertz car rental location.

I rented a little Ford Focus which turned out to be a pleasant experience.  I chose an economy car which was sufficient for the two of us and was good on gas mileage.  I was really careful to write down every little scratch on the vehicle which is really important when renting.  I pre-paid a full tank of gas which turned out to be a great idea because the gas from Hertz was a lot less expensive than what I would have paid at the pump.  I did a lot of driving to Keauhou, the Kailua-Kona area, Waikoloa, Hapuna Beach, and all the way north to the Waipio Valley.  A tank of gas was easily filled with all of the attractions the Big Island has to offer.

I was able to visit three hotels during my stay and I saw many more from the outside.  Although it was a hard decision, I ended up staying at the Fairmont Orchid, a beautiful 5- star property. They are currently offering a 50 % disount for a lot of travel dates which is hard to pass up.  This hotel is located about 20 to 25 minutes north of the airport and it is surrounded by palm trees, waterfalls, fish ponds, and clear blue turquoise waters. I was upgraded to an ocean view room on the Fairmont Gold Floor, where you get special amenities such as complimentary breakfast, snacks, hors d'horves in the afternoon, sodas and juices, access to the lounge and library, free internet, complimentary valet parking, and the best customer service you have ever experienced in your life.  Their smiles and great attitudes were contageous and they were very knowledgeable about the island and what it has to offer. 

From the moment we arrived, they treated us like princesses.  They pampered us with chocolate goodies in our room, a CD filled with relaxing tunes, nightly turn-down services with a robe and slippers, and more.  They even gave me a "Johnson & Johnson" baby travel kit, which had all of the necessities I needed such as baby powder, lotion, baby wash, etc.  By my first breakfast, they all knew our names, how I liked my coffee, how I wanted my freshly-cooked omelette made, and they even packed a "to go" travel pack filled with cold drinks and even flash lights for any outdoor excursions that might last into the evening.  The complimentary breakfast was delicious including juicy fruits, freshly baked pastries, the local Kona coffee, and a view to die for.  When I needed some milk for the baby, even in the middle of the night, I would just walk out the lounge with her bottle, hand it over, and within 5 minutes, they delivered the warm milk in the bottle to my door.  They  also had a refridgerator in our room that was convenient for me so I could keep milk and snacks cold for the baby.  I also filled it up with some other things that I picked up at the local grocery store, only a couple of minutes away from the resort.

The room was tastefully decorated in Hawaiian colors and the white marble bathroom was gorgeous white marble.  The views were magnificent from every corner (especially from the lobby), the grounds were beautifully manicured with bright flowers, and the tiki torches filled the grounds at night, giving the property that special Hawaiian ambience.  In the evening, they had several restaurants to choose from including a great outdoor restaurant overlooking the ocean and gorgeous sunset.  Their local bands filled the air with Hawaiian music.  I liked this restaurant because it gave parents a chance to sit down and enjoy their dinner while all of the kids had a ball with each other on the beach and grass right upfront. I have to say though that although the restaurants looked very appealing, after a full day of traveling, I usually ordered room service and passed out in the heavenly king bed. The pillow and comforters were amazingly soft and inviting a we both slept like babies!

On our first full day there, we went to the Hilton Waikoloa Village which is a huge, impressive property that offers SO much to see and do.  I think this is probably my first choice for any family with kids (I will continue with this hotel visit in another blog). The second day we visited the Kailua- Kona area where we hung out with the locals and did some shopping. On another day, we went to Hapuna Beach and the Waipoi Valley. There are so many things to do on the Big Island.  I wanted to go to Hilo and I  wanted to see the volcano so I guess I will just HAVE to book another trip there. =)  I could have easily spent at least 7 to 10 nights there, giving me a couple of more opportunities to see everything I wanted to see and also to  just sit, relax, and watch Genevieve play at the beach. After five short days, it was time to go back home and I was so sad to go.  The island locals and the Fairmont team made me feel at home and I really enjoyed my stay.

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