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Package Tours

Packages that combine airfare, lodging, rental cars/airport transfers, and sightseeing in any combination are often less expensive than buying each component separately.  We have seen packages that include airfare, rental car, and lodging for less than the least expensive advertised airfare alone. When airfares from the west coast to Honolulu were priced at $335 we have seen packages where airfare, hotel, and transfer from airport to hotel were priced at $399 for a five night stay in Honolulu.   Granted the hotel wasn't beachfront, but it was a nice, clean hotel only a couple of blocks from Waikiki beach.  This occurs because the package operators buy tickets, room reservations, and rental cars in bulk at steep discounts.  It's the same principle that allows stores like Costco to buy large quantities for a very low unit cost and resell them at a profit with prices lower than stores which deal in lower quantities. 

Many people like the convenience of one-stop shopping by buying a tour package rather than the hassle of putting it all together themselves.  Packages vary widely in cost and selection of hotels, airlines, cars, etc.  It pays to shop around for a package because some operators offer the same hotels, cars, and extras for a lower price than their competitors.  However, the old saying is still generally true that "you get what you pay for" so don't expect the lowest cost package to offer you a luxury car and lodging in a five star hotel.

Small operators often offer good prices but on a limited number of packages and options.  The bigger operators that specialize in Hawaii can buy in bigger quantities which can mean lower prices for you and more choices of airlines, hotels, etc.  The large operators offer so many options you should have a general idea of what you want before checking with them or you may have to sort through dozens of alternatives.

Know what is included in a package and take nothing for granted.  Insist that everything important is in writing.  When booking any package, be sure you understand all the rules, such as cancellation policy, change policy, and exactly what is included.  Compare packages to help you know exactly what is included in the price you are quoted.  Don't assume the airfare is included even if you are buying a package from an airline.  Be wary of firms that haven't been in business long or that seem to be offering packages that are too good to be true, because they probably are.  A good travel agent can usually give you information about various packagers and reports of customer satisfaction.

Check the travel section in any major newspaper for advertisements of tour packages.  Below we list a few firms to consider.

Pleasant Holidays   Probably the oldest and by far the biggest packager of vacations to Hawaii.  Their range of options gives a lot of flexibility  with many hotels and resorts and several airlines to choose from.  Not only can they provide a wide range of packages, they can arrange personalized vacations from air-only to good deals on air, car, and lodging.  They can also finance your vacation for you if you like.  Remember to shop around.  A friend booked a Pleasant Holidays' package through a travel agent for less than she could get it directly through Pleasant Holidays.

American Express Travel   They have packages of their own and can also book a Pleasant Holidays package for you.

The Airlines  Most of the major airlines offer packages with flights, cars, and lodging.  United, American, Delta, Continental, and Northwest Airlines all offer packages.  We've heard from several people that United has a wide variety of packages and is often among the lowest priced but, shop around.

Resorts and Hotels  The biggest resort and hotel chains also offer packages.  Of course your selection of lodging will be restricted if you book with them.  But if you know you want to stay at a specific place, always ask whether they offer packages.  The Hawaii based chains that offer packages are Aston, Outrigger, and Marc Resorts.

Neighbor Islands  If you are already in the Islands and decide that you want to go to a neighbor island, check out the packages at Pleasant Island Tours, Roberts Hawaii, or similar tour agencies you can find in the free tourist magazines like This Week Magazine.  They all offer "overnighters" that include airfare, room, and rental car at reduced rates.


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