Honolulu Aston Waikiki

Hotel Review: Honolulu, Aston Waikiki Beach

Hotel Review for Aston Waikiki Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

As I flight attendant, I stay in hundreds of hotels, so I’ll admit, I have high expectations. So I’m always excited to let my fellow travelers in on what I think about the places I’m staying.

Flight Attendant Tip: Don’t forget, if you’re flying to the island (and you probably are), Alaska Airlines has a complimentary Mai Tai service to get you ready for your exotic vacay!

Honolulu, especially the Waikiki Beach area, hosts thousands of tourists every day. Hawaii is an idyllic vacation and I always say that Honolulu is for Hawaii beginners. What do I mean by that? The Hawaiian islands all have unique characteristics that make them special, whether your plan is to venture around volcanos, hike to waterfalls, or lay on the beach with your lover all day long, each Hawaiian island is sure to please. The island of Oahu, has a little something for everyone and is a great starting point for Hawaii newbies. Is it my favorite island? Not by a long shot. Is Honolulu my favorite Hawaiian getaway? No way. Is Honolulu amazing and do I tell everyone to go there? Yes!

 

Where to Stay and what will it cost me?

 

An arm and a leg. Sad, but true, almost every hotel in the Waikiki area is expensive year round. That’s because there really is no high and low season for Hawaii. This is because like Paris, Hawaii is always a good idea! Although it’s expensive to stay in Waikiki, I do think it’s important for first time visitors to experience the Waikiki area. This is because it’s easy to navigate on foot. Due to of all the tourists, Waikiki has a lot of the beautiful, sometimes cheesy things that first time visitors look for, whether it’s free hula dancing shows or fire dancers in the park, you’ll never run out of fun things to do. Including hustlers trying to throw fliers into your hands for the tour excursion they’re selling. They’ll promise you it’s the best deal, but be wary. But I digress…onto our featured accommodation.

 

Aston Waikiki Beach

 

Ocean view rooms start at a little over $200, unless you get lucky with a crew special (which often are sold out). It’s located right on Kalakaua avenue, which hosts many restaurants, hotels and shops and more importantly, it’s right across from the beach. Even better for families, the beach in front of the Aston Waikiki has a barrier to block the waves, creating a protected ocean pool to swim.

 

Honolulu Waikiki Beach

What I liked about the hotel

 

For the price (because $200 for an ocean view in Waikiki is actually pretty decent), the view is amazing. I love that the room I had on the forward right side of the building had a sweeping view of the entire avenue and beach front. I’ve been centrally located before, facing forward and it’s a gorgeous view, but I think I favor this one. I love that this hotel is located down at the end of the main drag because it’s a little less crowded and a little more quiet. Also, I feel like admitting this is cheesy, but I liked the restaurant/bar at the hotel. It’s an indoor/outdoor tiki bar that faces the ocean so it’s got a great view. It also has fun drinks, yummy food and entertainment in the evening. I would definitely go back to that tiki bar even when I’m not staying there. It’s called Tiki’s Bar and Grill.

The beds and amenities were good/average.

 

 

Honolulu Aston Waikiki

 View from my room

 Honolulu Aston Waikiki

What I didn’t like

 

The pool was very lackluster. Honestly, that’s not a huge deal to me because when I’m in Hawaii I prefer to be on the beach anyway. If you are a pool person, probably pass on this hotel. The pool is a bit old school, small and always filled with kids. Not very many places to lay out in the sun. I didn’t have many complaints about the hotel, but if I had to come up with something else, it’s that it didn’t have a very Hawaiian feel about it. Some hotels in Waikiki go above and beyond with gorgeous fragrant flora and pineapple juice upon arrival and this hotel didn’t really give me that same welcome to Hawaii feel. The view from the balcony was great, but I guess I should mention that it was a bit small compared to other Honolulu hotels such as the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa. But that’ll cost a bit more.

Bottom line: The Aston Waikiki is a great hotel, not my favorite in Honolulu, but a solid choice. No matter where you stay, make sure you have an ocean view. It makes waking up all the more magical. At the end of the day, anywhere you stay in Hawaii will be brilliant, because it’s an amazing place.

Happy traveling.

XOXO

The Luv AviatrixThe Luv Aviatrix in Honolulu

 

Ko Phi Phi Ley

Ko Phi Phi, Thailand. Paradise or Overrated?

 

Koh Phi Phi

I am going to assert myself here (and get some backlash I’m sure) and state that Ko Phi Phi, Thailand is paradise! Feel free to disagree with me in the comment section. But for those of you less familiar with the Ko Phi Phi islands, let me give you the run down on one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand.

 

Ko Phi Phi is actually made up of several islands, most famously Ko Phi Phi Ley and Ko Phi Phi Don. It’s been spelled many different ways. While I saw it spelled Koh Phi Phi more while I was in Thailand, it seems like most tourists spell it Ko Phi Phi, so for the sake of continuity, that’s how I’ll spell it throughout this post. For Thailand newbies, the “H” in Phi Phi is silent, same with other destinations in southern Thailand such as Phuket. It’s pronounced “Poo-ket”.

 

Ko Phi Phi Ley is the more famous island, known for Maya Bay, featured in the Leo Dicaprio movie, The Island. In the movie, a group of travelers set up a community on a secluded, perfect island…and the bay in indeed, majestic. See for yourself, my unfiltered pictures from my last visit.

 

 

Ko Phi Phi Ley

 

 

ko phi phi longboats

 

Looks perfect, right? Almost like I’m the only person on this amazing island…

Wrong!

 

 

Busy Kho Phi Phi Ley Thailand

I couldn’t even get a picture of the “Koh Phi Phi” sign without a speedo-wearing tourist! Tee-hee…

Tourists Maya Bay, Kho Phi Phi Ley Thailand

 

 

Too many tourists or is it travel bucket list destination?

 

This is where travelers have very distinct opinions about Ko Phi Phi’s Maya Bay. It’s amazingly beautiful, no one is disputing that, but is the influx or tourists too much to be able to appreciate that beauty? Personally, I don’t think so. As you can tell, it was very crowded, but not too insane that I couldn’t get many pictures without any other people in them. I’ll post one of my fav instagram shots below.

If you want to see this beautiful place for yourself, I think you just need to go into Maya Bay knowing there will be a TON of tourists. If you’re expecting that, you won’t be disappointed. You just have to take it for what it is, a stunning place that everyone wants to see. The good news is, in my humble opinion, that the tourists weren’t annoying. Everyone was there for the simple reason of enjoying the beauty of the bay. There are no cheesy bars or any gimmicks on the island. The draw is the crystalline, azure waters and the towering, lush mountains framing the bay.

The Luv Aviatrix in Ko Phi Ph, Thailandi
The Luv Aviatrix in Ko Phi Phi #NoFilter #MayaBay #Thailand

Do I think it needs to be on your travel bucket list? No. I think that the islands of South Thailand DO need to be on your travel bucket list, but not these islands specifically because of the large amount of tourists. I would actually avoid Phuket and the touristy islands if you only have a short amount of time or will only be going to Thailand once. Visit the southern isles of Thailand for the more relaxed beauty if you’re trying to check off items on your bucket list.

 

In a nutshell: Girls trip, yeah visit chaotic, but fun Phuket and Maya Bay, Ko Phi Phi. Honeymoon, try a more secluded island such as Krabi, Ko Samui, Ko Tao or any of the smaller more off the beaten path islands in the gorgeous southern waters.

Happy Traveling!

XOXO

The Luv Aviatrix

 

 

Vernazza, Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre, My Fav Italian Getaway

Cinque Terre

Why Cinque Terre, Italy needs to be on your travel bucket list…

 

Imagine the primordial Ligurian cliffs towering three thousand feet over the Italian Riviera, the pale rock, shining in the sun. Now picture the turquoise waters of the famous Riviera stretching out in the distance, marred only by the tiny glittering reflections of Italian sunshine. Sounds idyllic, right? Add to that amazing landscape, hundred-year old, brightly colored homes built along the cliffs and you have a picture that more resembles more of skittles spilled onto rocks that a present day city. When you are walking the cobblestone streets of Cinque Terre, passing locals selling homemade Limoncello or fresh caught sardines, you have no choice but to be transported.

 

Manarola, Cinque Terre

 

 

Getting to Cinque Terre by Air:

 

     Milan (MXP) is my go-to because it’s close in proximity to Cinque Terre

By Train From Milan: Only about two and a half to three hours by train and you’re at La Spezia, the landing point for Cinque Terre. Train tickets will cost between 9-25 Euros depending on train type. Once you’re in full-on prep mode, check out time tables at TrenItalia.

     Rome (FCO) is a solid choice if you have more time cinque polaroid textand want to see more of Italy.

By Train from Rome: Expect a three and a half or four and a half hour ride, there are some trains that do the trip pretty fast, but it’ll cost more.

No matter where you decide to take the train from, all visits to Cinque Terre begin at La Spezia. Think of La Spezia as the landing of Cinque Terre. You can choose to stay here, but I much prefer to immerse myself amongth the “Five Lands” of Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterroso.

 

   Don’t leave Cinque Terre without…

 

Hiking between the five villages of Cinque Terre

My first visit to Cinque Terre was in 2006 and I never took the train once I’d arrived in the first stop from La Spezia. I hiked between every village, working off the fresh pesto I’d consumed with glee. Hiking between the villages through olive groves and along cliffs overlooking the azure waters of the Riviera was hardly a chore. Hands down, I think this Cinque Terre hiking itinerary needs to be on everyone’s travel bucket list. Unfortunately, in 2011 there was massive flooding in the area and much of the hiking routes were damaged and is still recovering. Don’t let this stop you from visiting, but definitely check for updates on the popular hiking routes in Cinque Terre before you visit.

Soak up some sun with some amazing gelatocinque terre ice cream

 

OMG. I don’t even know what to say to describe the bliss that comes from homemade gelato on a hot day as one gazes out at the Italian Riviera. Truly, it’s a memory I’ll never forget. As a matter of fact, I probably had more than one a day my entire trip. Even flavors I don’t normally like, I LOVED! I call this Cinque Terre treat, Vitamin G 😉

 

 

 

Fish with the locals, or at least watch ;)Vernazza, Cinque Terre

You can’t be a local, but you can just sit back, relax and partake in the relaxed way that Cinque Terre locals get things done. Every day at sun rise, head to the harbor at Vernazza, grab a slice of pizza or a gelato, and cop a squat and watch the fisherman reel in their trophies. Don’t miss out on the cat’s that also flock to the harbor for their dinner as well.

 

Eat your fill of fresh Ligurian pesto!

The moment I stepped off the train in Riomaggiore, Italian men were offering to make me dinner. No kidding. Any woman that has been to Italy will believe me. Farther south, Italian men will offer to make Bolognese. In Cinque Terre, the men of Liguria will make you pesto-from scratch. I took my new friend up on his offer of a home cooked dinner and I was not disappointed. I watched Georgio use a mortar and pestle to hand grind together all the fresh ingredients. I promise you that dinner was amazing, but also, that every where I ate in Cinque Terre, food was prepared by locals with the same care. Maybe it’s the fresh ingredients, but everything in I consumed in Cinque Terre was amazing. I highly recommend the pesto pizza!

 

Still not convinced?

Here’s another glimpse into my past adventures in Cinque Terre

 

cinque terre italy cinque terre cathedralcinque terre olive grove

 

Cinque Terre Kittycinque windows

 

 

Now that you’re convinced you need a vacation to Italy, Cinque Terre perhaps, you’ll need some in-flight reading to leave you inspired…Recognize the cover? Yep, That’s Cinque Terre!

 

Beautiful Ruins

The story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962 . . . and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later.

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*This is an affiliate link which means I get commission for referring it, but I promise it’s an amazing read and guaranteed to transport you to the Italian Riviera if my post didn’t do the trick 😉

Or how about a Roman Time Travel romance? Read my review here.

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So have you been to Cinque Terre, tell me how much you loved it! The Luv AviatrixIf not, what areas of Italy lave you craving a getaway?

XOXO

The Luv Aviatrix

 

P.S. Unfortunately, more recently Cinque Terre has seen an alarming increase in tourism due to cruise ships docking near by. This is bad timing since they were already trying to recover from devastating landslides and Cinque Terre is getting a reputation for disliking tourists. I say, travel there on your own, not with a cruise, and make an opinion for yourself. During the times that I have been there, and friends even recently, have said that locals are still welcoming if you are humble and respectful of the land and damage that has been done by large crowds in these tiny towns.  This is an important message that all travelers should keep with them anyways, no matter where they are.

How to do Yosemite In A Day

Romantic Yosemite


Yosemite draws tourists and vacationers from all over the world. It’s no wonder why, because Yosemite truly is one of the most beautiful, awe-inspiring places in the world. A vacation destination fit for adventurers, artists, romantics and adrenaline junkies. Whether you want to take a calming nature stroll and keep a vigilant eye on the unique fauna that thrive in the valley, or strap on some climbing shoes and show some massive granite who’s boss, Yosemite holds a perfect attraction for anyone.

yosemite valley

 

Personally, as someone who loves to take a bazillion pictures, love the photographic quality if the amazing landscape. I love to hike, and there can perhaps be no better, more unique and diverse hiking in one place than at Yosemite. And you better believe I always have my camera with me. Are you a photographer ala Ansel Adams? Prepare for mesmerizing waterfalls that will pound the ground, shaking it beneath your feet and spraying your face and body with a cold mist. And while Yosemite has many challenging hikes and climbs such as Half-dome, I promise there are nature walks for every skill level.

My favorite intro hike for Yosemite Beginners, or even for seasoned Yosemite-lovers that just need a warm up—is theYosemite mist Mist Trail. The hike begins with more of a slowly inclining nature walk that’ll lead to a bridge at the base of Vernal Falls. If you’re not much of a hiker, this might be your photo op and turn around spot.

If you’re feeling like a bit more exercise, continue on and prepare to be amazing. You’ll start an immediate climb, hugging the mountain so that you have constant views of the valley too your left, and towering trees on your right. You catch glimpses of the waterfall you’re hiking toward. Finally, you’ll breach the trees and be treated to the waterfall’s spray. My last hike there was during the most powerful snowmelt in years and I was left drenched. It’s a good idea to bring a rain slicker on this hike!

 

If you only have enough time for a half-day hike, turn around at the top of the falls, it’s an incredible hike in itself. If you’re feeling like you have a couple more rounds of hiking left in ya, continue on up the mountain in the steps of half-dome hikers toward Nevada falls.

yosemite falls 2 text

Tip: If you’re on a layover and only have one day, I recommend doing the half-day hike version up to Vernal Falls, and then turn around and take a scenic drive through the valley and up to Glacier Point. Glacier Point and many of the vistas on the way up are iconic and simply not to be missed on a first visit to Yosemite.  You’ll have amazing, epic views of Yosemite icons such as Half-dome, el Capitan and even the waterfalls you hiked to on the Mist Trail. If you’re traveling with your other half, this is a spot for some very romantic canoodling pics.❤

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Accommodations: Camping can be rough, not because it’s not enjoyable, but because so many people want to do it in Yosemite. Book in advance, or arrive EARLY, we’re talking before the butt crack of dawn for one of the first come first serve camp sites. If you are able to book in advance, there is a great camp site just steps away from the Mist Trail hike. If you decide to stay in town, about twenty minutes from the Yosemite gate is a small town called Groveland with the oldest saloon in California. It’s pretty damn cool and I highly recommend experiencing the tiny town and to stay at the Groveland Inn for a night. Nightowls be warned, nothing is open past five or six pm.

For Flight Crew: Close airports…you have many to choose from! FAT, SMF, SFO, OAK, SJC…you could even do some farther airports such as STS and RNO and make a road trip out of it. I’m closest to the OAK airport and it’s a beautiful three hour drive.

Venture out to California and experience Yosemite and I promise you wont be disappointed. If you only have a day, do the Mist Trail Hike to the top of Vernal Falls, and tour the Yosemite Valley and up to Glacier Point for an unforgettable whirlwind trip. If you have more than a day, make sure to add the famous Sequoia grove to your list and well as Mirror Lake and many of the other incredible sites in this grand national park.

Do you love Yosemite as much as I do? Let me know where your favorite spots are!

 

XOXO The Luv Aviatrix

Got Jet Blast? Maho Beach, Baby!

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Where do two aviation nerds go for a romantic getaway? I was thinking sand, sun, tropical waters, rum drinks and…the roar of jet engines. And of course, get in touch with my inner dash trash… After all, jets aren’t everything. Maho Beach, baby! #JetBlast #PropQueen4Life

Where else could my love and end up besides Maho Beach, the famous beach in Sint Maarten where planes land right over a gorgeous stretch of beach. Nothing beats the way the ground shakes and your body bows against the sheer power of a 747 descending right on top of you. For my non-airline friends who aren’t sure what an epic sight that is-behold KLM and I on Maho during my last visit.

IMG_7299To get to SXM (Sint Maarten for you non-aviation readers) from where we live in the Bay Area, we took Delta SFO-JFK. I made homemade airplane cookies for the crew, but they got crushed before they made it to the plane, but the crew still had a great smile for my tragic cookies anyway. First class was empty since all the business travelers were home for the weekend and it became employee central.:) Yipee for Nonrev victories!

Jet Blue and DL both do JFK-SXM, but we ended up taking DL to SXM and then all the way back home. BIG SHOUT OUT TO DL FOR SPOILING US ON OUR ROMANTIC GETAWAY.

We wanted to be right on Maho and the only hotel that could satisfy our inner aviation geek is the Sonesta Maho. There are many other hotels on Sint Maarten, but none of them actually sit on the famous Maho beach. So ask yourself, do you want to plane spot from your hotel room or would you rather get away from all the jets? Clearly, we chose to plan spot with all-inclusive drinks in hand and powdery sand at our feet.

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Sonesta Maho Best Available Rate: $372

Sonesta Maho Crew Discount: $174

$174 for two guests, all-inclusive meals and alcoholic beverages is insanely cheap! This is a crew discount that I can get onboard with. I spotted the deal on ID90, then called the hotel to confirm and they booked the room for me. I ended up upgrading to an ocean view room for $200 which is still a steal in my opinion.

Below: View from our balcony at the Sonesta Maho

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We could plane spot from our balcony, the pool and all the restaurants.

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My Review of the Sonesta Maho Beach:

The positive: If you love planes, this is an unbeatable locations. You can see aircraft of all kinds coming in at all hours. You don’t hear them from the hotel rooms so you can still have peace and quiet when you want it. The hotel has tons of activities from Mixology to Dance to Water aerobics, whatever you can think of. My man and I ended up participating in the newlywed game and it was a hilariously good time. The pool is lovely and has a swim-up bar to get your all-inclusive fix of tropical drinks. There are four restaurants on the premises and three of them have stunning beach views. The rooms are nice and come with two bottles of booze and a fridge with mixers. The bathroom is stocked with sun block and big spray (which thank goodness I didn’t have to use) but it was a nice touch.

The Negative: Almost everyone that works here (with the exception of the entertainment crews) will treat you like crap. This hotel probably has the worse service I’ve ever experienced. From the check-in desk to the bar, not a smile to be seen in sight. Want a drink, prepare to be scorned. The food at all of the restaurants is…okay. I would never ever have any kind of special even here due to the quality of food and customer service. Also, no room service, no coffee in the lobby. Just basic hospitality things are missing. On my last day when a convention was being hosted, the hotel put out coffee. Guess the rest of the guests don’t matter.

Final Verdict: For me, the location on the beautiful Maho beach outweighs all the negatives. The beach has powdery sand and clear turquoise waters, and the fact that you can swim in them as KLM descends over…just amazing.

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Besides the incredible moment when KLM descends over Maho, probably one of my favorite plane spotting moments was DHL, whom I will forever more call the Badasses of the Sky! Check out this pic I took below of them giving some of the beach goers a buzz cut.

Once you get outside the resort, the people of Sint Maarten are super friendly and will welcome you with open arms. We took a beautiful sailing excursion, but the snorkeling visibility was non existent due to the wind. We were there four days and it was definitely not enough! I can’t wait to go back and this time will try to make it to Anguilla!

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Have you been to Sint Maarten? Worked it? Let me know what you thought and if you have any other tips because I’m looking forward to going back!

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I’ll leave you with a photo of my expression when I get buzzed by a 787 XOXO JAYE

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Ready to plan a visit? Pin this image for later 🙂

Maho Beach is the most unique beach in the world. Check out this guide to visit and put Sint Maarten on your travel bucket list!

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30 Hours in Bermuda. Got Paradise?

Need a vacation idea? Bermuda blew me away. Here are my tips to getting the most out of your Caribbean vacation in Bermuda. Cave swimming, kayaking, pink sand beaches and tropical drinks await!