By 10xTravel Reader Kristen P

About Me

Hi 10X Travelers! I joined this amazing community in late 2019. I had been doing my own version of “points and miles for a few years before I found this community. After joining, I gained so much knowledge and insight to help with my travels.

I have always been a girl with champagne tastes but a beer budget. It is such a great feeling getting the best trips for next to nothing! Without the points game, I would not be able to have such great vacations.

For background, my fiancé and I had to cancel our wedding and honeymoon (in France!) due to the pandemic. With everything going on, we opted for a 10-person courthouse wedding instead of the larger party we had planned.  Thanks to 10xTravel, our Hawaii COVID honeymoon redo turned out better than expected.

Southwest Companion Pass

I am a huge Southwest fan, so when they announced they were going to start service to Hawaii in 2019, I knew that is what I would be cashing in all my points on. The best way to travel with families or couples is by utilizing the famous Companion Pass. I did exactly that. In October of 2020, Southwest announced a promotion that would give me the Companion Pass for January – February 2021. Hello whale season in Hawaii!

I have a huge stash of Southwest points so I booked 2 roundtrip tickets for myself and then added my fiancé (now husband) using the Companion Pass, only having to pay taxes!

Las Vegas

Since Southwest does not have many (none during COVID) itineraries between Houston to Hawaii, we had to stay overnight on the west coast. We were originally going to stay in Oakland for one night, then fly out early to Maui the next day. Luckily, I had a great idea to spend a few days in Las Vegas before Hawaii.

Therefore, I had to make two flight reservations – one between Houston and Las Vegas, and the second between Las Vegas and Maui. This allowed us to break up the travel and spend time in Vegas before heading to Hawaii.

We stayed at the Cosmopolitan (Marriott) using two free comp nights I had in my players account. I only had to pay $45 a night in resort fees.

We visit Vegas once a year and spend much of our time gambling. However, there is so much to do during normal visits! Check out one of the Cirque shows, the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef, and the downtown area.

Our first night, we ate at Prime – the steakhouse in the Bellagio hotel and casino. If you make reservations in advance, request a table on the patio. You get front row seats to the fountain show.

Prime – the steakhouse in the Bellagio hotel and casino

We also checked out Hell’s Kitchen, Vanderpump Cocktail Garden, and the Chandelier bar at the Cosmo.

Hell’s Kitchen, Vanderpump Cocktail Garden, and the Chandelier bar at the Cosmo

After two nights in Vegas, we had depleted our gambling funds and were ready for warmth & sand.

Maui – Wailea

We took an Uber to the Las Vegas airport (LAS) and checked in. We were too early, or I would have utilized the lounges in the LAS airport. We did upgrade our boarding seats, usually $40 each but free with our Southwest credit card.

The flight was about five hours and pretty smooth for the majority of the trip. The best part was landing; we could see whales from the plane! They looked so tiny from the sky, but you could see blowholes from afar.

After landing, we picked up our rental car (paid with Chase Sapphire Reserve) and headed to our hotel.

We booked at the highly talked about – Andaz Maui. Getting four nights with points was difficult; usually, you have to book in large increments. It took a few tries, but I was able to book two back-to-back three-day stays and then called Hyatt to reduce one stay to one night.

Arriving and checking in was seamless. I could already tell why this resort went for $700+ a night. It was beautiful and not crowded at all. We were greeted with leis by the valet as they took our car to park. At the front desk, I was thanked for being an Explorist member and we were both given a cold towel and fruity drink at check-in. I was also upgraded to a front view ocean room.

Andaz Maui Wailea Resort

The next few days were filled with beach time, pool time, cold drinks, delicious food and many many whales! A huge highlight of our trip was being able to look out on our balcony and see whales in the distance. Even swimming in the ocean you could see them, and hear them underwater!

The Andaz has a high resort fee (waived when booking with points!) but it includes many things that normal hotels would charge you extra for. Each day we were able to head down to the beach and get two chairs and an umbrella set up, and use the snorkel gear which was included in the resort fees. One day snorkeling we could see a sea turtle swimming.

We headed to the activities desk to sign up for included group activities like a 30-minute outrigger experience (amazing), stand up paddle board lessons or a complimentary photo shoot.

We aren’t big breakfast people, but we did try the hotel breakfast one morning. It was great! I tried the Ahi Benedict and my husband tried the Pork Belly Kimchi bowl.

hotel breakfast

We enjoyed the Andaz so much that I was already trying to book award stays for January 2022 while leaving. My hope is to enjoy my new Globalist status I had just earned. I would recommend this resort to anyone looking to relax and splurge a bit.

Andaz Maui Resort sunset

Maui – Kaanapali

Next, I booked 5 nights at the Marriott Sheraton Kaanapali. This Marriott is a Category 7 which is around 60,000 points per night. Since I was booking using points, I got the fifth night free. I used a total of 220,000 points for an ocean view room. This was an upgrade; I was able to book at this cost due to a point saver option (likely due to COVID). I have Gold status with Marriott thanks to The Platinum Card® from American Express (enrollment required), and I was upgraded to a deluxe front ocean view. Wow, this view was amazing. As soon as we walked in, we could see a whale breach. These rooms typically go for $700 a night.

Maui – Kaanapali

Since we did go during Covid, a lot of the hotel was empty. There are two pools, but one was under construction. At first we were disappointed, but because of the construction, the manager waived our resort and parking fees for our stay!

We spent a lot of time in Lahaina and Front Street. I recommend checking out Fleetwood’s as it’s amazing! We took this time to explore more of the island and stayed less at the resort than we did at Andaz.

Among the many things we did were, catching a sunrise at Haleakala, enjoying a snorkel excursion with trilogy, feasting during a sunset dinner cruise, drinking at a Maui brewing company, drinking again at a Maui vineyard, surfing a goat dairy, and lots and lots more eating! Closer to the Ritz is a great restaurant called Merrimans where we spent our last dinner and it did not disappoint.

Maui – Kaanapali

Last Stop – On Our Way Back

Leaving Maui was bittersweet. We spent nine nights exploring the island and enjoying our time as newlyweds. On the drive back to the airport, we discovered a great food truck spot with an awesome coffee truck. It’s called Kraken Coffee, and it was delicious! I recommend the cold brew with coconut.

We dropped off our car and headed back to Vegas. Our flight landed at 9 pm, and we headed to the MGM Park. I had a comp night here that included a $50 food and beverage credit, and $50 of free play.

While waiting for our flight, I was hoping to utilize the Amex Centurion lounge but it was closed for construction. Next time….

We had a great trip, and it was all thanks to points & miles! Thanks to the 10X team for your help and guidance. I cannot wait to go on my next point’s trip! This guy wasn’t happy we left him though…

Kirsten P dog

How We Did It!

Flights on Southwest

Wailea – Hyatt

Kaanapali – Marriott

Once home, I utilized the Chase Sapphire Reserve charge eraser to help offset some of our dining expenses. I cashed in 50,000 Ultimate Reward points – worth $750 – to further lower our out of pocket costs.

Total Trip Value: $8,250 +