Erin Avila of JEAC Travel and Tours relaxes during a Waikiki boat ride. // © 2014 Erin Avila
Feature image (above): Oahu’s many family-friendly attractions make it an ideal destination for parents with kids of all ages. // © 2014 Thinkstock
California native Erin Avila keeps an atlas on her bedside table to help feed her hunger for travel. She sees the world as filled with exciting places to visit, and as a travel agent, she thrives on helping her clients discover their own dream destinations.
Avila has owned and operated JEAC Travel and Tours in Kingsburg, Calif., since 2007. She has racked up an impressive list of specialist credentials including the Hawaiian Islands; Mexico; Israel; Anchorage, Ala.; Disney; all of the major cruise lines; and many other destinations and hotel properties.
A recent visit to Oahu reminded Avila of the island’s huge appeal to multigenerational travelers. Here she talks to TravelAge West about the advantages of selling Oahu family vacations.
What makes Oahu such a good place for a family vacation?
Oahu is the complete package for families. From building sand castles on the beach to visiting historic sites such as Pearl Harbor, families thrive on Oahu. No traveler is too young or old to appreciate all it has to offer.
What are some specific activities on Oahu that you like to recommend to families?
Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium are within easy walking distance of most Waikiki hotels. I have booked families on hikes up Diamond Head that even 5-year-olds can participate in. I believe that every age can appreciate the rich history of Oahu, from the treasures of Iolani Palace to the culture and beauty of Waimea Valley on the North Shore.
What Oahu hotels consistently please families whom you send there?
The Courtyard by Marriott Waikiki Beach on Royal Hawaiian Avenue is great for price and location. It’s located just a few short blocks from Waikiki Beach, and it doesn’t charge the high rates that beachfront hotels do. Plus, it has kitchenettes in certain room categories. Another popular hotel is Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, whose fireworks are an added bonus.
How about great Oahu family restaurants? Any favorites?
Kapahulu Avenue’s Side Street Inn on Da Strip has great comfort food in a family environment. The food trucks located around the island feature good, reasonably-priced food and a fun local vibe. Waikiki has many family-oriented chain restaurants such as Cheeseburger in Paradise on Kalakaua Avenue, where you can eat while enjoying the view of the beach.
What's the best time of year for family travel to Oahu?
Due to school schedules, families are sometimes restricted to Christmas or Easter breaks and the crowded summer months. If they must travel at those peak times, I recommend smaller, out-of-the-way hotels with fewer crowds. When families are able to travel during the less busy times of January or February and October or early November, I show them how to mix homework and vacation time so that everyone has a great experience.
What advice do you have for fellow travel agents selling Oahu family travel?
Know the island inside and out. Place your feet in the destination. Your passion alone will be contagious, making it easier to sell Oahu to any type of traveler.