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Transformational Travel: One Owner’s Once-in-a-Lifetime Hawaiian Vacation

How a life event led one couple to the newest Hilton Grand Vacations Big Island resort

The Vacationeer
Aerial view Ocean Tower by Hilton Grand Vacations Big Island resort in Hilton Waikoloa Village in Hawaii.

Gayle T. and her husband were the first guests to check-in at Ocean Tower by Hilton Grand Vacations a resort on the Big Island of Hawaii. However, their story started in 1995 with the vacation to Las Vegas that started it all.  

Exterior shot of Ocean Tower by Hilton Grand Vacations resort on the Big Island in Hawaii.    

Gayle explains, "My sister owned several timeshares with RCI® and invited my husband and me to travel with her to Las Vegas. We ended up attending a sales presentation for Hilton Grand Vacations at The Flamingo and became Owners right then and there."

They've never regretted their purchase once, especially as, over the years, her sister repeatedly commented on how incredible the couple's ownership with Hilton Grand Vacations was. "We think she was a bit jealous," Gayle adds, amused. 

Since then, this globe-trotting duo has put their vacation ownership to good use. As California residents, they enjoy heading south to Carlsbad Seapointe Resort and Hilton Grand Vacations at MarBrisa

"We also had a great vacation in Orlando. We stayed at Hilton Grand Vacations at SeaWorld, which was fabulous. But since there are so many resorts to choose from, we ended up touring them all during our holiday," says Gayle. 

Exploring outside of the Hilton Grand Vacations portfolio, they've exchanged ClubPoints to Hilton Honors™ Points and enjoyed time together in Whistler, Seattle and New York

"But one of our favorite trips was staying at Hilton Grand Vacations at Craigendarroch Suites, located by Balmoral Castle, the queen's summer residence in Scotland. Princess Diana used to swim right there with her boys. We loved the serenity of this resort," Gayle explains, fondly. 

Couple holding hands overlooking the Pacific ocean at Ocean Tower by Hilton Grand Vacations Big Island resort in Hawaii.    

Finally, they've made their way to the Big Island and Oahu several times, which is where their transformational trip to Ocean Tower comes in.      

For Gayle and her husband, the trip to the Big Island came about unexpectedly. They had initially planned a vacation to Kauai and were excited to explore an island new to them. 

Sadly, however, her sister, who had been diagnosed with cancer, passed away two weeks before their trip to Kauai — prompting them to cancel.  

"That same week, we got an email about the new Ocean Tower property," says Gayle. "My husband and I looked at each other, and we knew this felt right. My sister was so passionate about travel, and we felt that relaxing in the beautiful, soothing islands  could help us begin the healing process."

Waves crashing against palm tree line cliff at sunset a Ocean Tower by Hilton Grand Vacations Big Island resort in Hawaii.    

They booked a new trip to Hawaii with their newfound purpose, only this time with extended family and at the brand-new Ocean Tower by Hilton Grand Vacations Big Island resort. "We knew it was important to reminisce about the beautiful memories we shared with my sister — together as a family," says Gayle. 

Unbeknownst to them, they were the first-ever guests to check in. "In true aloha spirit, Team Members greeted us with beautiful fresh leis and a fruit basket in our room," adds Gayle. 

As for the Big Island resort, Gayle describes it as walking right into heaven. And on the ocean views from their suite? "Indescribable."

"The first thing we saw was the modern island-inspired bathroom. The lava sink and glass rainwater shower took our breath away. I'll never forget how our suite smelled brand new, and it was special to think that we were the very first people to stay there," says Gayle. 

The rest of the suite didn't disappoint. The couple likened it to a captain's suite on a luxury cruise ship, replete with thoughtfully designed details. From the beautiful headboard and plush bedding completing the island vibe to the giant flat-screen TV perfectly hung on the opposite wall, no comfort was spared.

Picture quote from Hilton Grand Vacations Owner on things to do at Ocean Tower by Hilton Grand Vacations Big Island resort.    

"We had the best sleep ever that week," Gayle adds, wistfully. "In the morning, we enjoyed a peaceful breakfast overlooking the mountains of Maui. After we ate, we could walk right out of our room to enjoy the ocean and the most beautiful golf course we've ever seen."

Gayle shares how the Team Members at Hilton Grand Vacations resorts are like family and that conversations are always genuine. "After spending a week there, we felt like we were all friends," says Gayle. "We even shared some of the fruit from that giant fruit basket with the ladies at the front desk."

For a trip that the couple intended for rest and relaxation, it was a success. Gayle adds, almost chuckling, "We also ate a lot (and I mean a lot) of pineapples."

Picture quote from Hilton Grand Vacations Owner on the benefits of timeshare.    

When asked about upcoming adventures on the horizon, Gayle explains, "We have five children and 17 grandchildren, so I made arrangements for everyone to meet for our big 50th anniversary at MarBrisa.

Wrapping up, Gayle says, "We don't see ourselves slowing down, either. We've already booked another trip back to the Big Island in two years. Canada, New York and Park City are on the list, too — time to start planning."

Peruse the Expert Advice page to hear what other Owners are saying.


The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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