After a great night’s sleep at the Grand Hyatt DFW Airport, we had a nice breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant. With a stack of pancakes, bacon, and fresh squeezed orange juice, we were ready for our 8 1/2 hour flight to Honolulu.
Staying at the airport for our overnight layover from Orlando was so convenient, and helps to break up the trip, as well as extended the short vacation.
As we were only taking carry-on luggage, our checkin for American Airlines was quick, as well as the TSA Pre-check line at DFW. We stopped by the ‘D 25’ Admiral’s Club after the flight was delayed a short half-hour for weigh-and-balance paperwork. Just enough time in the AA Club for a cup of coffee, and we were soon boarding.
We had nice sleeper seats on this American Airlines 767, in the middle row – great because we both had aisle seat access. This model 767 had not been redesigned with the new individual seats (which are in a 1 X 2 X 1 configuration), and fortunately we noticed they had switched the aircraft from this configuration during the on-line checkin, so we were able to move to the middle section seated together, vs having two window seats in different rows (We had originally booked the single window/aisle seat in rows 4 and 5, but when they aircraft is switched from a 1 x 2 x 1 configuration to a 2 x 2 x 2 configuration, you are left with a window seat and a ‘stranger’ seat mate instead of seats together).
The meal service was actually very good on this 8 1/2 hour flight, starting with warm mixed nuts, salad, grilled pork chop, and ice cream sundae. Since this Boeing 767 hadn’t been reconfigured with personal TV’s, they Flight Attendants distributed iPads that had the entertainment options, as well as Noise-cancelling headsets. (I had brought my brand new Bose headsets, and unfortunately left them on the plane as I used the complimentary ones instead. Yes I am sick about that, but I digress . . . I did feel out a lost and found report after I got to the hotel, but won’t hold my breath about them turning up found.)
The flight to Honolulu was staffed with a wonderful crew, led by a younger Purser named Courtney, and a more seasoned crew who attended on the First Class section with constant attention. The crew each personalized their uniforms with a Hawaiian-themed item such as an apron, shell lei, and one attendant wore a Red-White-and Blue apron wth a colored lei to honor the Memorial Day weekend as well as Hawaii, which I thought was nice and commented on that to her.
The flight itself was very smooth, and went by very quickly, no doubt helped by the entertainment options and the sleeper seats. I watched the movie ‘The Lady in the Van’, a ‘mostly true’ story of a homeless woman in England who parked her van in a man’s driveway and stayed for 15 years. Quite a good and heartwarming drama.
After we landed in Honolulu, we saved time bypassing baggage claim as we had only carryon luggage. DOS called for our pre-arranged car service, and took the escalator down where our drivers was waiting for us curbside.
We had a nice chat with our driver along the way to our hotel, and as he was originally from Vietnam, we talked about our recent travels there in February. After less than a half hour, we arrived at our hotel: the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach.
and each got “lei-d” with a beautiful orchid lei. This high rise hotel has two huge towers, and our room is on the 36th floor. We had booked just a standard room in hopes of a Hyatt Diamond upgrade, but as it was Memorial Day weekend and the hotel full, and we arrived early (1:30pm) there weren’t any oceanfront rooms available, so rather than wait for hours we took a city view, which actually overlooked Diamond Head, and had a partial ocean view. It was actually nice late at night sitting on the balcony (sorry, lanai) as the city was lit up nicely, while the ocean-side was dark.
We also had complimentary access to the 3rd level Executive Lounge which overlooked Kalakaua Avenue and the Ocean – perfect for the scenery and people-watching.
After getting settled in our 36th floor room, and changing into Island-wear, we quickly explored our immediate neighborhood; i.e. walking up and down Kalakaua Avenue. Steve (DOS) the pilot used to fly here regularly years ago, and knows the Hawaiian Islands very well, so he is really enjoying showing me around Honolulu. I’ve been here twice before years ago (before we met), the first time as part of an America Hawaii cruise on the S.S. Constellation in 1981, and more recently at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in 2003. While it’s changed a bit obviously, the major hotels are still around, and DOS enjoyed showing me the classic hotels as we walked about.
We stopped for a drink and pizza appetizer at the historic and pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel, where we were seated oceanfront and poolside.
Next to us on the grounds, the staff was setting up for a large outdoor wedding, although we didn’t stick around for that. We did see quite a few brides having photos taken as we walked around Waikiki.
As this was our first day and we were getting adjusted to the time, we didn’t want to nap, so we had an early dinner at 4:45pm, as soon as Hula Grille Restaurant opened up at the nearby Outrigger Resort in Waikiki. There was already a line of people, but as it was just the two of us, we were seated by 5pm, and were lucky enough to have oceanfront seating on the outdoor 3rd or 4th level patio of the hotel. This was a prime spot to relax and listed to the live 70s and 80s music below, as well as the beach, surfers, boats and overall ambiance – absolutely wonderful!
We shared two appetizers of honey-macademia shrimp and crab-meat wontons, followed by a Caesar Salad. For the main dish we had a delicious Ahi-Tuna which was cooked just to our liking very rare. Even though we were having fish, we had a nice bottle of Duckhorn Decoy Merlot. Our waitress was a native Hawaiian lady, and was quite hospitable as are the Hawaiian people everywhere.
We met two Australian couples seated next to us and chatted with them briefly before we left. (We would later see them a couple other times on different parts of the island as well!)
After dinner, we went back to the Hyatt Hotel, and were both getting tired out by the late hour of 8pm (2am back home), but stopped by the hotel’s Executive Lounge for a nightcap for me, and water for DOS. The Executive Lounge is on the 3rd floor overlooking the beach and Kahala Avenue with indoor and outdoor seating – very nice.
So ends the first day of our journey to Honolulu. Aloha!