The Economics & Perks Of Our Nearly Free $5K+ Last Minute Trip to Hawaii

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Grand Hyatt Kauai Mini Review
Grand Hyatt Kauai pool

Grand Hyatt Kauai Mini Review & Economics Of Our Last Minute Trip

One of the true blessings of the miles/points hobby is being able to save tons of money on amazing trips. Sometimes this is accomplished through careful planning, saving specific currencies and booking as far out as possible. While other times, a great deal comes around and you jump on it last minute.

As you may have seen here or elsewhere, there was a bit of a fare war from the West Coast to Hawaii this month. Depending on the date you choose, most of the major carriers have fares from $250-$300 through the end of this month to Hawaii. When these fares first surfaced, I went to work and planned a last minute surprise birthday trip for my wife.

My main goal was to plan a trip as close to my wife’s birthday as possible. We visited Maui earlier this year (taking advantage of an Alaska companion cert and another fare sale), so I really wanted to re-visit Kauai and the Grand Hyatt. Since there would be four of us, I decided I wanted to go on dates where I could use a confirmed Globalist Tier Suite Upgrade.

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Because building #sandcastles is serious business. #Hawaii #Kauai

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Searching For Hotels

The Grand Hyatt Kauai is pretty generous with their suites, but it took 15-20 minutes to find a combination of dates where a base level suite was available. Ultimately I found one and only one date combination that worked, September 5-9, 2018. Once I found the “suite spot”, I booked the base room on and sent a Twitter DM asking them to apply the upgrade. Within a few minutes I was all set!

Trip Cost

Grand Hyatt Kauai Mini Review
View from our Suite at the Grand Hyatt Kauai.

While the room and flights did have a “cost”, I ended up paying for these things with points. Here is how I paid and the breakdown.

Flights Cost

We flew on American Airlines from LAX-HNL-LIH on the outbound and LIH-LAX coming back with a cash cost of $300.70 per person roundtrip. Since the dates were somewhat inflexible our cost was a bit more and we had a quick connection in HNL, but I had never done an interisland flight before, so that was a fun experience. Always look on the bright side.

REAL FLIGHTS COST: 24,056 ThankYou points per person. Or $8,019 in online purchases with my AT&T Access More card. We’ll also each earn a couple of thousand American AAdvantage miles for the flight.

Hotel Cost

The Grand Hyatt Kauai isn’t a cheap property. Regular rooms were over $500 with taxes included and our suite was close to $1,000. 

REAL COST: 100,000 World of Hyatt points or 87,000 after 10% rebate & fall bonus promotion. That works out to 21,750 points per night or $4,350 in office supply spend on my Chase Ink Cash/Plus cards.

Grand Hyatt Kauai Mini Review
Cost of the base suite for 4 nights if we had paid cash.

Car Rental Cost

I couldn’t do quite as well with the car rental. Since we would be there a total of 5 days, I ended up getting stuck paying for a week at a total cost of $207. I will use flexible points to offset this cost. I also earn half a free day from National’s One Two Free promo.

Travel Hacking/Elite Status Wins

While the retail value of this trip is around $5K (mostly because of the hotel room), you can value it however you want. No matter what value we choose, we received even more benefits than are listed above. Here are some examples:

Main Cabin Extra – A few months ago American Airlines gifted me Platinum status for a couple of months. Despite this status expiring in the middle of our trip, we were all able to select Main Cabin Extra seating for both directions. This extra leg room is invaluable for me and it even includes little perks like free booze.

HNL Airport Lounge – Having to connect via Honolulu wasn’t all bad. We were hungry after our near six hour flight to Hawaii’s capital and were able to use Priority Pass to access the Plumeria Lounge and grab some soup/sandwiches. Our connection was quick, but this lounge gave us a nice quick snack.

Club Lounge Access – At the Grand Hyatt Kauai we had Club Lounge access for our entire stay. This meant that we had access to free breakfast in the morning, snacks and beverages all day and food in the evening as well. For a family of four, this adds up over the course of a trip.

Grand Hyatt Kauai Mini Review
Grand Hyatt Kauai Salt Water Lagoon.

Other Hotel Benefits – As a Globalist we also had several other benefits. We didn’t pay the $35 per night resort fee, we were upgraded to an even larger suite, my son’s rollaway was free, we received 20% off our lunch in the restaurant and were given a 4pm checkout since we had a late flight home. 

Car Rental Wins – I have National’s Executive Elite status which normally gets me a pretty nice car. In Lihue their selection was limited, but I am taking advantage of their generous promos and earning free rental days. I then will be able to use those free days on ANY car no matter the cost because of my status.

Grand Hyatt Kauai Mini Review

Grand Hyatt Kauai Mini Review
The living room of our suite at the Grand Hyatt Kauai

I hope to write a hotel review of the Grand Hyatt Kauai soon, but here is my mini review. While we had some service hiccups (basically only at check-in), the property and staff is amazing. Our suite was quite large and comfortable and the views are tremendous. This is probably in my opinion the best Hyatt property in Hawaii. (I have stayed in Hyatt Regency Maui, Andaz Maui, Hyatt Place Waikiki & Grand Hyatt Kauai)

The real highlight of the Grand Hyatt Kauai are the grounds. Lovely gardens, stunning views and fantastic pools make it a delight to stay on property. We did leave to go snorkeling at a nearby beach, but spent most of the rest of our time swimming in the pools and lounging around. Don’t get me wrong Kauai is a lovely island and had we not visited most of the sites on a previous trip, we may have explored more.


I like to write posts like this from time to time to show not only how we can take $5K trips for almost nothing, but also to show how those trips are made better because of the perks we learn how to pickup along the way. In the end this was a lovely family trip and an amazing last minute surprise for my wife’s birthday. With airfares still hovering around $250 roundtrip, I am tempted to go back! 😉


  1. Love it Shawn. One of my favorite things to do is plan a last minute trip. I just did a quick hiking trip to Kauai with my son and stayed at the Grand Hyatt. It is our favorite hotel in the state. The grand club is outstanding in my opinion. Pretty good food and wonderful service. We love Helen, Simone, Sam, and the rest of the crew. They have all been there since our first trip there many years ago. We used singapore on united metal HSV-IAH-HNL and then used some citi points for the HA inter island. We then used HA points to fly first class LIH-HNL-LAX in lie flat. That was our first time in first class on an HA mainland flight. It was a lot of points, but we had to get to LAX to meet my wife and daughter for a few days. Similar to you, we didn’t spend a ton of cash. I did rent a convertible camaro from dollar for $260 for 4 nights (that is a pretty good price though). It was fabulous!


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