Our family loves Hawaii, we have been here numerous times. When we started planning our holiday for this year, we decided to try a new island – The Big Island. My oldest daughter, who is almost 10, wanted to see the Volcano and the rest of us were up for exploring something new.
I booked our 2 bedroom condo with the Kona Coast Resort for my family, as well as a 1 bedroom condo for my parents. This resort was getting great reviews online and looked to have everything we needed. When it came time to book our flights, Air Canada had a connection on the way here that allowed us to only stop one time in Vancouver and arrive early afternoon. This seemed like a nice change from always arriving late at night, so we decided to give that a try.
Saturday morning saw us all getting up bright and early so we could catch our 4am shuttle to the Saskatoon airport for our 600am flight. We had pre-arranged a van with Provincial Car Service that would fit all 7 of us with
lots of luggage. As usual, they were on time and the driver was excellent. We breezed through check in with a friendly and helpful AC agent and there was almost no lineup at security. Our flight boarded on time and all seemed to be going well. That’s where the ‘easy’ stuff ended.
We were sitting at the gate, boarded and ready to go, when the pilot came on to announce that the fog was making the visibility too limited and we had to wait for the fog to clear a bit before we could take off. We had a two hour connection in Vancouver so I wasn’t too worried about a few minute delay. A half hour later, the flight attendant came by to make sure I knew that I would have a tight connection. I said “but we will still have about an hour and a half right”….she gave me a look that said I was clearly living in a fantasy world, but kindly said “at best” with a sympathetic smile. A half hour later we were finally cleared to leave, but had to de-ice. By now, I was sure we were going to miss our connection. Panic set in, but two things kept me going:
1) I had called one of the Uniglobe Travel agents at my office and she looked up the next best option – a flight leaving Vancouver that evening and was ready to purchase them for us when we landed in Vancouver if necessary.
2). We had the all-encompassing Manulife Premium Protection Plan insurance. I knew if we needed to purchase new tickets, get an overnight hotel, extra meals, taxi’s, etc. – all the things that come from unexpected missed connections – that they would pay for these unexpected charges and I wouldn’t be out of pocket all that money. I also knew that if we made it and our bags didn’t that I could go and buy our necessities until our bags arrived. Major peace of mind during a crisis!
I have to give Kudos to our AC flight attendant. I wish I had her name. During the flight, she knew we were stressed. She called ahead to Vancouver to make sure they had our gate checked stroller off first, asked if they could get a cart for us (they would try) and made an announcement that we had a tight connection and needed to get off first.
Our plane had made up a bit of time, so when we landed we had 1 hour to get across the airport, through security, through customs and to our gate before our plan left. We had 20 minutes until our flight was boarding. Eeeek, it was go time. Our stroller was waiting when we rushed off the plane, but sadly there was no cart available. Luckily, I knew exactly where we were going and had made that connection a few times to the USA through Vancouver. I ran, dragging my husband, three little kids and my poor parents through the airport, huffing and puffing and sweating, we made it….to a huge lineup at security. The longest lineup I had ever seen there. I asked the AC agent there if we could be put through quickly for our connection. She assured me we would be fine in the regular lineup. I had my parents go in one line and us in another in an attempt to speed us up. Then our lineup stopped. Dead stop. They were checking someone’s bags in great detail. We finally got up to the front and were told our stroller couldn’t come in that line, we would have to go in a different line. I was about to lose it when my little 3 year old boy looked at me and said “mommy, you’re so pretty”. He may have saved the day as I then took a deep breath and asked if we could move to the front of the next line. They agreed and off we went to customs. I entered all our passports into the machine and we hit another snag. It didn’t like my daughters passport and told us to see a customs agent. At this point, I was sure we would miss our flight. Then they shooed us to the customs agent right away, with barely a look our passports, he sent us on our way. As we came running out of customs, there was an Air Canada agent asking our name and if we were on the Kona flight – like cheerleaders, the agents were spread along our route waving us on in the right direction to our flight and phew – we made it – the last to board, way past final boarding calls with everyone else seated and ready to go. What a roller coaster! I quickly sent a message to our Uniglobe agent that we made it and didn’t need alternative flights and we were on our way.
The flight to Kona with AC Rouge went well – smooth and on time, even with our slight delay. We had lunch onboard since we didn’t have time to eat in Vancouver. The sandwiches and cheese plates were quite good! When we arrived in Kona, our bags were the first off (obviously the very last ones put on!) and we were quickly on our shuttle to the Hertz rent a car location. Within 20 minutes or so we had our minivan and a car for mom and dad.
Our rate was significantly better than the current rate – it really pays to book car rentals early in Hawaii – last minute rates tend to get much higher.
It was about a 20 minute drive to our resort. The Kona Coast resort is lovely – beautiful resort-like grounds with lots of landscaping and flowers. There is a quiet pool at the back of the resort with a hot tub, a hot tub and playground right outside our door in the middle of the resort and a family pool, hot tub and restaurant at the front of the resort. The resort is oceanfront, but there is no beach right at the hotel. Our two bedroom unit is in Phase 2 and over the past year they have all received new carpet, new furniture, new granite counters in the kitchen, new bedding and curtains. They have AC for a small extra daily charge, in suite laundry and dishwashers and the kitchens are well stocked.
There are three BBQ’s right outside our patio by the hot tub and playground. Our location is excellent! Across the street from the resort is a shopping center with lots of restaurants, a few shops, a large grocery store, a Longs Drugs, a medi-clinic and a movie theatre – very handy. I’m about to head over there for our first Shave Ice of this vacation and will keep you posted on our adventures as we go through the next two weeks! Aloha!