How often do you schedule a staycation, where you shuttle over to a Waikiki hotel? If memory serves well, my last impromptu Waikiki stayover was for two nights at the Princess Kaiulani Hotel maybe a decade or so ago, when our home was tented for pest control. No, we didn’t have issues with creepy crawlers; we simply take precautions periodically.

But when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right?

So the missus and I wound up with an unplanned vacation – well, a staycation, a “trip” minus  an airline flight.

We originally planed to stay three nights at the Ala Moana Hotel by Mantra because on Tuesday morning, Dec. 7, the day of infamy was make-lemonade day. No water!

Relevant concerns:

  • Can we live without water, hot and cold?
  • For how long?
  • Besides a shower, what about an unflushable toilet?
  • What’s the alternative to the unexpected dilemma, with no clue on how long this disruption would last?
Awaiting check-in, at the front desk of the Ala Moana Hotel.

Answer: Plan a staycation. The wife wasn’t going to tolerate the lack of a hot bath, and worse, the issues with the toilet. A Board of Water wagon arrived, and while we hauled out City Mill painting/gardening buckets (had two new ones in the house) to fetch water, we still weren’t willing to play out the waterless issue for lord knows how many days and nights.

Went online to find a hotel. Didn’t want to mess with the Waikiki traffic, and didn’t know there was gonna be Dec. 7 parade on Kalakaua Ave. that evening.

We had no more Christmas shopping to do, but the opportunity to be at Ala Moana Center was a plus; we hadn’t been mall-ers for a spell, what with the pandemic.

The Ala Moana had rooms going for as low as $179 a night, so that seemed fair and acceptable, so I logged on, intending to book perhaps two, maybe three nights, to avoid returning home too early if the meddlesome water main break continued.

In my online booking, something strange happened; the system — outsourced and located in Australia, I learned — was a bit crazy, so a wrong arrival date and departure date appeared without my input. It didn’t even apply a LOCALSONLY discount that appeared when I signed on. The only way to undo this was to call the hotel directly, and a sweet reservationist assisted, correcting the check-in date and suggested we do the three nights, just in case, because the hotel was approaching a fully-booked status.

A simple dinner at Liliha Bakery inside Macy’s.

She noticed I hadn’t asked for the kamaaina discount and I said I did, so she inserted that data in the reservation. The discount would cover a $35 daily charge for self-parking at the hotel (vs. parking illegally and walking to the hotel adjoining the shopping center).

The lemonade started to get a bit sweeter.

The staycation was a blessing, and wound up being a post-anniversary observance, since our home had two guests for much of November. And Nov. 23 was our 53rd wedding anniversary that included a sweet dinner at Roy’s with our niece visiting us to see her Army son, who had concluded one assignment before moving to another.

A calming dinner at Ruscello’s inside Nordstrom; note yule trees.

Staycations mean you can drive home to pick up a few things that you may have forgotten to pack, so yes we drove home on Wednesday Dec. 8, to pick up a charging cord with a magnetic head for my Apple watch. We brought a few more clothing items and a couple of snacks, too, and learned that the water was restored early Wednesday, though the roadway was not restored for traffic, so we wondered if we should cut short the vacation.
We had made dinner reservations for Wednesday night, so proceeded back to the hotel and later drove to the Nordstrom end of the mall, for our meal at Ruscello, a favorite destination. (FYI, I no longer walk the whole length of the mall because of back ache issues, so a short drive is part of my new normal).

Chillin’ inside the Ala Moana Hotel room.

The staycation, however, intruded with three Thursday Dec. 9 calendar items – my wife had a bone density test to take, and a Zoom session in the afternoon, and I had my usual Thursday PT session in the morning. We intended to return home early Thursday, so she could get to her appointment in her car, and I’d do same with mine. We would then return to the hotel afterwards.

However, overnight Wednesday, I developed a feverish feeling – both my legs and feet were icy cold, due to the hotel’s air-conditioning — so I told my wife it’s probably best that we conclude the staycation after two nights.

Staycations allow this kind of casual and informal play-out. We were enjoying the novelty of hotel life because we hadn’t traveled since the pandemic cancelled everything two years ago. And two evenings were just the right dose.

We don’t normally go all-out to mark our anniversary; the last one was the 50th, to which we invited the entire family. This one was perfectly personal, just us two; it didn’t require high-end dining with champagne and the works.

Liliha Bakery’s loco moco: in a word, ono.

We had dinner at Liliha Bakery at Macy’s the first night; she had the hamburger steak, I had the loco moco with two easy-over eggs over the burger on a bed of fried rice. Boring? Perhaps. But ono.

We learned that Cafe 410, the Ala Moana restaurant, had been closed throughout the pandemic, but was reopening Wednesday morning with a breakfast-buffet format; it was not grand nor bountiful, comprised mostly of bacon, pork sausage, pancakes hidden in those domed bowls, a small selection of breakfast fruit (pineapple chunks, watermelon, honeydew melons), and a station with croissants, bagels and bread for toasting. I don’t recall the cost, but the waitress insured we’d get the kamaaina discount. And when asked about the numbers in the Cafe name, she said it’s the hotel’s address on Atkinson. Now you know, too.

The hotel stay was leisurely and comforting; we took a selfie in front of a decorated Christmas tree in the hobby but it was a lousy shot. No matter.

We both had hauled our computers with us in separate roll-aboards, since we have different needs. And over two days, I had a few hours to shape and nearly complete my traditional Christmas column, to be posted in a few weeks. We were still connected to our daily do’s, including checking emails.

The staycation cost $700-plus for hotel and meal charges  but you only live once, and you can’t take it with you. And FYI, the hotel didn’t charge a penalty for an early departure and the refund for the unused third night was credited to my charge card.

For an imperfect few days of rain and no running water, this was the perfect staycation at a time we needed a break from routine.

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