Bart Lapers

Hawaiian Paradise: Kauai

Back in May, I visited the Hawaiian island of Kauai for the first time. Being so overwhelmed by it’s beauty, I couldn’t resist visiting Kauai again this month. Result: a summary of my experiences and advice for your future trip to the Garden Island below!

Which Hawaiian island should I visit?

This blog post will cover Kauai, one of the 6 Hawaiian islands. If you’re not sure which Hawaiian island(s) to visit, check this infographic.

Getting there

SWISS new B777-300 Business Class Bart Lapers
Pic: New SWISS B777-300 Business Class from Zurich to Los Angeles
Flying from Europe to Hawaii is quite a trip with 8500 miles to be covered and a 12 hour time difference. Economy class tickets can easily set you back €1000 or more if you don’t hunt for a bargain. If you were lucky, you noticed my tweet or facebook update a few weeks ago when tickets were selling as low as €405 for a round trip from Brussels to Honolulu (HNL, Oahu) Lihue (LIH, Kauai) Kahului (OGG, Maui) or Kona (KOA, Big Island). Missed that amazing deal? No worries, here are some tips to score a good deal:

  • Read my flight booking advice.
  • Can’t find cheap flights to your Hawaiian destination? Look for tickets to Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO) or Honolulu (HNL). If you find a good deal to LAX or SFO, you can use miles for the connecting flight to your Hawaiian destination. If you find a good deal to HNL, you can book cheap a domestic ticket between the Hawaiian islands.
  • British Airways charges just 12500 Avios + €5 each way to book LAX or SFO to your Hawaiian island on American Airlines.
  • Lufthansa Miles & More charges 20000 miles + €12 each way to book LAX or SFO to your Hawaiian island on United. Need more Miles & More miles? Sign-up for the Brussels Airlines American Express card and get 12,000 bonus miles + 2000 miles when you pay your cellphone bill with the card.

Where to stay

Aqua Kauai Beach Resort
Pic: Aqua Kauai Beach Resort (May 2016)
Kauai has a limited number of chain hotels which are generally not worth the high rates (and resort fees) they charge. Don’t even think about redeeming your points, keep them for non-US destinations! My advice is to use Airbnb. For my stay in May, I managed to get a room at Aqua Kauai Beach Resort for half the price the hotel charged on their website. A similar deal at Islander on the Beach for my stay in August. The trick is to book privately owned units at the resorts via Airbnb. Hula Now is one of the agencies listing these units on Airbnb. In most cases you can also avoid paying the high resort fee! If you haven’t used Airbnb before, this is the right time to sign-up, even if you don’t intent to make a booking right now. Airbnb currently offers €30 or $30 free credits which can be use as discount on your first Airbnb booking.
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Op wereldreis: droombestemmingen en must-do’s!

This post is published in Dutch to highlight a contest where Belgian readers can win 10 Round The World trips of 12500EUR!

1. Vliegen in First Class

De ultieme luxe beleven in het vliegtuig? Boek dan een First Class vlucht. Het hoeft zelfs niet verschrikkelijk duur te zijn. Tijdens je wereldreis kan je bijvoorbeeld Emirates First Class vliegen tussen Bangkok en Hong Kong voor minder dan 600 euro. De Emirates A380 heeft zelfs een douche aan boord!
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I travel too much!

Bart Lapers Samsonite Brussels Airlines The Loft
I travel too much… at least to keep this blog up-to-date! 😉 In first 5 months of this year, I visited 20 destinations in 12 countries. Some stats:

Trip Highlights

Bart Lapers BMW 7 Series bmw 730ld
Pic: Driving the all-new BMW 7 Series
In January, Belgian television magazine ‘Telefacts‘ made a documentary about my luxurious travel lifestyle. BMW provided me the all-new 7 series for our drive from Brussels to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. You don’t get to drive a ~150.000EUR car every day!Bart Lapers BMW 7 Series Executive Lounge
Pic: The all-new BMW 7 Series with Executive Lounge
The new SWISS Boeing B777-300ER
Pic: The new SWISS Boeing B777-300ER
On February 8th, I had the pleasure to fly the new SWISS B777-300ER on the first day of commercial operations. I also spent a few hours in the new SWISS Senator lounge at Zurich Airport Terminal E.
New SWISS First Class Cabin on B777-300ER
Pic: New SWISS First Class Cabin on Boeing 777-300ER
First Class Seat 2A on the brand new SWISS B777-300ER
Pic: First Class Seat 2A on the brand new SWISS B777-300ER
Awesome runway view before take off in Zurich
Pic: Awesome runway view before take off in Zurich
Garuda Indonesia B777-300ER First Class Seat 2A
Pic: Garuda Indonesia B777-300ER First Class Seat 2A
Mid February, I enjoyed one of the last Garuda Indonesia 5th freedom flights between Amsterdam and London Gatwick. With just 45-minutes up in the air, it was Europe’s shortest First Class flight. The best short haul I have ever flown!
Garuda Indonesia First Class Laurent Perrier Cuvee Rose Brut Champagne
Pic: Duck & fruit salad with Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut Champagne
Garuda Indonesia B77W First Class Bart Lapers
Pic: Garuda Indonesia B777-300ER First Class lunch
Brussels Tokyo All Nippon Airways ANA B787 Dreamliner Business Class
Pic: All Nippon Airways B787 Dreamliner Business Class
In March, I flew non-stop between Brussels Airport and Tokyo Narita Airport with All Nippon Airways (ANA) on the B787 Dreamliner in Business Class. I used IHG Rewards Club points to stay at The Strings By InterContinental Tokyo (video) and InterContinental Tokyo Bay (video). I also visited Osaka and Kyoto where I stayed at the Hyatt Regency Kyoto using a combination of Hyatt Gold Passport Points + Cash and the Hyatt Best Rate Guarantee.
Bart Lapers at Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine in Kyoto, Japan
Pic: Bart at Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine in Kyoto, Japan
Japanese pancakes at Brothers Café in Osaka
Pic: Japanese pancakes at Brothers Café in Osaka
The Great Sphinx of Giza Cairo Egypt Bart Lapers
Pic: The Great Sphinx of Giza in Cairo, Egypt
End of March, I visited Cairo for the first time. Highlights were the Pyramids of Giza and Tutankhamun’s mask at the Egyptian Museum. Hotel wise, Cairo offers excellent opportunities to burn Hilton HHonors points. I stayed two nights in a Junior Suite at Hilton Ramses for just 10,000 points per night.
Qatar Airways A380 First Class Doha to Bangkok
Pic: Qatar Airways A380 First Class from Doha to Bangkok
From Cairo, the trip continued with Qatar Airways First Class to Bangkok. Thanks to a very lucrative GOL Smiles promotion back in May 2015, I managed to fly Qatar Airways First Class six times for less than 250EUR per flight in the past year. The best miles redemptions I’ve ever made!
Qatar Airways First Class Oscietra Caviar Krug Grand Cuvée Champagne and Belvedere Wodka
Pic: Oscietra Caviar, Krug Grand Cuvée Champagne and Belvedere Wodka
Holiday Inn Mai Khao Beach Phuket Thailand
Pic: Soaking up the sun at Holiday Inn Mai Khao Beach
The first week of the Easter vacation was spend at Holiday Inn Mai Khao Beach. Another great points redemption at just 15,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night. As IHG Rewards Club Platinum member, I was upgrade to a nice Pool Access Suite.
Pool at Holiday Inn Mai Khao Beach , Phuket, Thailand
Pic: Pool at Holiday Inn Mai Khao Beach Phuket, Thailand
Bathroom Rubber Duck Conrad Macao Cotai Central
Pic: Rubber Duck at Conrad Macao, Cotai Central
Followed by 3 nights at Conrad Macao Cotai Central booked using Hilton HHonors points. A triple upgrade to a Deluxe City View Suite and fantastic club lounge experience thanks to my HHonors Diamond status.
Rooftop pool at Hotel Indigo Hong Kong Island
Pic: Rooftop pool at Hotel Indigo Hong Kong Island
With the Cotai Water Jet, it took me less than an hour to get from Macao to Hong Kong. The sunny rooftop pool at Hotel Indigo Hong Kong Island was a real pleasure after 3 days in foggy Macao.
Moët Rose at Cathay Pacific First Class lounge The Wing in Hong Kong
Pic: Cathay Pacific First Class lounge The Wing in Hong Kong
When in Hong Kong, one must visit the legendary Cathay Pacific First Class lounges. I visited both The Wing and The Pier where I relaxed at a cabana and had a blissful foot massage at Gentlemen’s Tonic. 
Cathay Pacific The Wing First Class Lounge Cabana Hong Kong Airport
Pic: Cabana at Cathay Pacific The Wing First Class Lounge
I used British Airways Executive Club Avios + Cash to book Cathay Pacific First Class on the B777-300ER from Hong Kong to Bangkok.
Cathay Pacific ‎First Class ‎Hong Kong to ‎Bangkok B777-300ER
Pic: Cathay Pacific ‎First Class ‎Hong Kong to ‎Bangkok B777-300ER
Cathay Pacific Business and First Class lounge Bangkok airport
Pic: Cathay Pacific Business & First Class lounge in Bangkok
Lufthansa First Class Dubai Munich A330-300 Cabin
Pic: Lufthansa A330-300 First Class Cabin
Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle ‎Lufthansa First Class ‎Champagne
Pic: Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle – ‎Lufthansa First Class
For my return home, I redeemed 62000 Lufthansa Miles & More miles + 217EUR in taxes & fees to book Dubai – Munich in First Class on the A330-300. The required miles were earned with my Brussels Airlines American Express card.
Magical landscapes of Iran seen from my Lufthansa flight from Dubai to Munich
Pic: Magical landscapes of Iran seen from my Lufthansa flight
Lufthansa First Class Caviar Service
Pic: Lufthansa First Class Caviar Service
Lufthansa First Class Breakfast Service
Pic: Lufthansa First Class Breakfast
Lufthansa First Class Delicious Dessert on approach Munich
Pic: Delicious Lufthansa First Class Dessert
Mercedes-Benz S-Class ride to the plane Lufthansa First Class
Pic: Mercedes-Benz S-Class ride to the plane
My throne onboard Finnair A330-300 Business Class Helsinki to New York
Pic: Finnair A330-300 Business Class Helsinki to New York
Breakfast onboard Finnair A320 Business Class Oslo to Helsinki
Pic: Breakfast onboard Finnair A320 Business Class Oslo to Helsinki
Amazing views of Greenland from my Finnair flight
Pic: Amazing views of Greenland from my Finnair flight
In May, I flew twice to the West Coast using a Oneworld Business Class error fare from Oslo. The first trip was a long weekend in Seattle where I stayed one night at Crowne Plaza Seattle Airport using 25,000 points and two nights at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Everett for just 5000 points per night! (IHG Rewards Club PointBreaks) With the Boeing Everett Factory only minutes away, a perfect location to visit the largest building in the World by volume! There was also room for nature, a beautiful day at Mountain Rainier National Park.
Bart Lapers at Boeing Future of Flight Aviation Center Everett Factory
Pic: Boeing Future of Flight Aviation Center in Everett, Seattle.
Space Needle Seattle
Pic: Space Needle in Seattle, Washington, USA
British Airways Business Class seat 53K Airbus A380
Pic: British Airways A380 Business Class seat 53K
One week after my Seattle trip, I visited the US again. This time I was flying to San Francisco with one of my least favorite European airlines, British Airways. Their Club World Business Class is a joke, I still don’t get it how people can pay > 2000EUR for such inferior experience. I’ve now flown Club World on the B777-200, B747-400 and A380-800 and all I can say is, if you really need to fly BA Club World, make sure to fly it on the A380 and go for seat 53K. One of the rare seats with ‘private’ aisle access.
Business Class meal service British Airways A380 London to SanFrancisco
Pic: British Airways Business Class meal service
salt ponds on final approac -San-Francisco airport
Pic: Salt ponds on final approach San-Francisco airport
bart lapers blue hawaiian helicopters kauai hawaii
Pic: Blue Hawaiian helicopters on Kauai, Hawaii
From San Francisco, I continued to the Hawaiian island of Kauai. As there are six Hawaiian islands to choose from, I found this infographic helpful to decide which island to visit. Kauai was an excellent choice with the Na Pali Coast as absolute highlight. I booked two helicopter flights over the garden island, a luxurious comfortable ride with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters and a more adventurous doors-off flight with Jack Harter Helicopters. Amazing!
The mind blowing Na-Pali Coast in Kauai Hawaii
Pic: The mind blowing Na Pali Coast on Kauai, Hawaii
Conclusion: I’ve travelled a lot in the past 5 months, in fact, my travel pace has never been higher. If you don’t want to wait until my next blog post, make sure to follow me on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. 😉 Thank you for your likes and support!

Arctic Adventure: Svalbard

svalbard ice cave trip spitsbergen
Mid-February, Visit Svalbard invited me to discover the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean. Svalbard is the northernmost settlement in the world with a permanent civilian population. Longyearbyen, the largest settlement (2100 inhabitants) on the island of Spitsbergen is located 1338 km (831 mi) from the North Pole and 2313 km (1437 mi) from Oslo. Since Svalbard is located north of the Arctic Circle it experiences polar night in winter. In Longyearbyen, polar night lasts from October 26 to February 15. During my visit, February 18-22, it wasn’t possible yet to see the sun as it was blocked by the mountainous terrain. It takes until March 8th before the sun reappears in the sky, an event which is celebrated by the locals during Sun Fest Week in Longyearbyen.
dog sledding svalbard longyearbyen spitsbergen
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Tips & Tricks to Book Cheap Flights

1. Use powerful flight search engines

Use aggregators to check airfares on many OTA sites (Online Travel Agencies) simultaneously. My favorites:

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