Maui, Hawaii

Category: condos

Kihei Surfside review and recommendations

Kihei Surfside
Another sunset at the Kihei Surfside – love this place!

This past week we had repeat guests who had previously stayed at our Palms at Wailea condo with their family stay at our oceanfront Kihei Surfside condo. They wrote us a lovely Kihei Surfside review in our guestbook, together with some of their experiences while on Maui:

Cara & Sig,

Location Location Location!

This is our third stay at one of your condos. First time at Kihei Surfside. We thought the first two times at the Palms at Wailea were amazing, but WOW! Do we love this condo!

We spent our 30th anniversary here celebrating with the luau at Te Au Moana at the Marriott. Highly recommended.

Our favorite things to do: we bought snorkeling equipment at Snorkel Bob’s at South Kihei Kamaole Center – Corey was fantastic! Kihei Caffe for breakfast, gotta try the cinnamon buns and Mac Nut Banana Pancakes (portions are huge, share). Moose McGillicudy’s, Fabiani’s on Lipoa – awesome Italian and bakery. Cool Cats Cafe in Lahaina – great fries.

Most of all we ate here at the condo, enjoying the beautiful view. Lots of activities to do especially the Glow Bocce Balls at night. Rent them out of the office (office staff is amazing!!). Just loved the community here – meeting people at the BBQ, listening to the men blow the conch shell. Enjoying beautiful sunsets, laying and relaxing on the beautiful green lawn by the ocean. Very peaceful and stress free!

We can hardly wait to come back again!

Snorkeling – Makena Bay, Makena Beach Landing, Kapalua Bay, get there by 8AM.

This condo is a must! Sig and Care once again you’ve outdone yourselves! Thanks so much for everything. God bless you and your family. Mele Kalikimaka, L & G.

~ Mahalo for the Kihei Surfside review. We are so happy you had a great anniversary trip!

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Last minute opening at Palms at Wailea #503

Palms at Wailea #503 lanai
Your huge wrap-around lanai, the large lawn and an oceanview in the distance

We’ve had a cancellation at our lovely 2 bedroom 2 bathroom Palms at Wailea condo from November 8-19, 2017! We’d love to have you!

This fully remodeled ground floor condo is a 10 minute walk from Keawakapu beach. It is fully stocked with beach gear, linens and dishes and even includes a Vitamix for your tropical beverages of choice!

The discounted rate is $239/night, if you can stay 7 nights or longer, I’ll rent at $229/night. Rate is plus cleaning and tax! Book now and come to Maui for a last minute getaway!

Palms at Wailea #503
Welcome to our condo, Palms at Wailea #503, the spacious living and dining room

 

Palms at Wailea #503 bedroom ensuite
Master bedroom with master bath which includes laundry
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Coming in 2018…. an increase in the transient accommodations tax

I’ve had many a discussion with our kids about taxes and why one has to pay them. Yes, we all like to complain about taxes, but in truth, if noone paid tax, we’d have to find another way to fund the basics we all want to have taken care of for us.

Yes, even in paradise (or should I say especially in paradise) we pay our share of taxes. State lawmakers have been struggling to find a way to pay for Oahu’s light rail transit system especially since costs spiraled out of control. Yes, it turns out it has been a bit of a boondoggle. Opinions range from ‘shut the whole thing down’ to ‘raise taxes’ and various versions in between. After failing to deal with it in the spring legislative session, lawmakers came together in August for a special session specifically to deal with the light rail transit system.

Did I mention, this rail system is only on Oahu? Sigh. Oahu is smaller than Maui but with a population of over a million, and it is known for its traffic congestion. In fact, one of their highways is in parts 6 lanes across. I don’t begrudge them a transit solution. I guess I just wish our guests’ tax dollars went towards funding one of the many special projects we need done here on Maui instead.

The end result of the special session is an increase in the State’s transient accommodation tax (TAT) from 9.25% to 10.25% effective January 1, 2018. This is Hawaii’s version of a hotel tax and applies also to all vacation rentals. Just FYI, time shares pay a higher percentage still.

In addition to the TAT, you also pay general excise tax (GET) on everything purchased in Hawaii (all goods, services, and yes, also your vacation rental). The GET is 4.167%. So the new total tax goes from 13.417% to 14.417%.

How much will this really affect you? If your vacation rental is $1000/night, the added tax works out to $10.

In the overall scheme of things, it could be worse (lawmakers had been discussing increasing the TAT by 5 points instead of the 1 we got). I suppose we should be thankful.

So remember, should you make it to Oahu – go ride their light rail transit system! Once it’s finally completed, that is. Current estimated completion date is sometime in 2025. Maybe.

Can you avoid paying the tax?

All legal vacation rentals in Hawaii by law have to submit both taxes (the TAT and GET) to the government. By law they need to post their tax IDs on all their advertising (look for it). If you come across a landlord or property manager not charging the tax, be very careful. Chances are great this is a scam – an illegal rental (which could be shut down at any time) or a con-man trying to get your money. Wouldn’t that be an awful way to start your vacation – arriving on Maui with no place to stay!

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Four things that will make or break your vacation rental business

It’s hard to believe that it’s been seven years since we dove head-first into the vacation rental business, buying four condos in five months. At the time we knew rather little about what we were doing. Sure we had been long-term rental landlords for years, so we knew about property management. But vacation rentals are a completely different ball game. There are many lessons learned in the past seven years.

We were fortunate to have several people guide us as we entered the world of vacation rentals. The owners of Kihei Surfside and Sugar Beach each gave me an information download over lunch of what they had learned in years of vacation renting. The first year we worked closely with a vacation rental company at Kihei Surfside – they were a great resource. Very importantly we were fortunate to retain a fantastic cleaning lady from day one who has brought her expertise and knowledge to our business.

Four things will make or break your vacation rental business

Cleanliness and Maintenance

Guests want the condo to be clean and they want it to be well-maintained. This is really a no-brainer. But did you know the majority of condo owners live off-island? Both cleanliness and maintenance slip big-time when you don’t have a hands-on on-island owner to check and stay on top of things. As on-island owners we walk into our condos between all bookings. Our wonderful cleaner Cindy has been cleaning our condos for seven years now. She is a perfectionist and together with Beth (an amazing artist – we have a number of her paintings hanging in our condos) does her best to keep our condos in top shape given the time constraints she works within. Sig (my husband) is our maintenance man – also a perfectionist he enjoys going into the condos and making little (or big) improvements, tinkering with things to get them ‘just right’ for the next guest. If you stay at one of our condos and something needs fixing, please call him and if urgent, he will take care of it within the day, or add it to his ‘to-do list’ for the next check-out.

Sig & Cara Birkholz
Cara & Sig – owners of Maui Oceanview Condos

Good Communication

In today’s online world we expect quick and good communication. I try – I really do try to respond to your inquiries as quickly as possible. Sometimes life happens, but do know that I am on it.

Integrity

Isn’t this key with everything in life? Please read our reviews (on this website, our web listings and our guestbook entries). They speak for themselves.

Do we have it all together? Does anyone ever? We do try our best with our vacation rental business and hope that you have a wonderful vacation when you stay at one of our condos!

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Happy 7 year anniversary to us!

Seven years ago today we purchased our first two condos. Sugar Beach 104 and Kihei Surfside 405. We had just sold our dairy farm and moved to Maui with hopes of getting into the vacation rental business. What a life-changing move that was. As we adjusted to island-living Sig dove headfirst into real estate and spent countless hours researching properties in South Kihei, reading online, checking out open houses, talking with realtors etc. Hard to believe that we are now celebrating our 7 year anniversary!

Sugar Beach 104
Sugar Beach Resort aerial
Sugar Beach Resort aerial

When we bought Sugar Beach 104, it had recently reopened after being closed for an extensive building remodel for a year. There were many distressed properties and the timing was good. As a family with young children we liked the ground floor location (no stairs or elevator to deal with) and that the kids could spill out onto the lawn just off the lanai, giving more living space. We tackled a renovation head-on: new bathroom, new flooring (out with the suspicious carpet and old tile), new sofa and luxurious Averte shades. We removed the popcorn ceiling and repainted all the walls. We took careful inventory of all everything in the condo, replacing sheets and towels, pots and pans, small appliances and TVs as needed. It was fun putting our own stamp on the condo, and then listing it on VRBO to rent it out.

Since then we’ve tackled several additional projects – with any rental property there is always something that needs fixing or replacing.

Kihei Surfside 405
aerial2
Kihei Surfside aerial

Kihei Surfside 405 was an entirely different operation. We were fortunate to purchase that condo from hands-on owners Cynthia and Bill. Unlike our Sugar Beach condo, they passed on a full roster of bookings. They took the time to sit down with us and pass on their condo rental knowledge they had gathered from years of experience. I still remember that lunch at Gannons, furiously taking notes. I appreciate the time they took to teach this newby the ropes. Their condo needed little work – we replaced some of the art work (they took some of their favorites) and checked an inventory list to make sure we had everything needed.

Of course, since purchasing Kihei Surfside 405 in September 2010 we’ve done several remodels. In 2012 we replaced the kitchen cabinets and repainted. Then in 2015 the entire building was shut down for five months for extensive exterior work. We took the opportunity to replace the carpeting, blinds and sofa. Every year we take an inventory and replace items on an as-needed basis. Most recently we’ve added a Vitamix and replaced the TV.

Happy 7 year anniversary to us!

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What should be on your Maui packing list

Currently there’s an interesting discussion thread on Tripadvisor’s Maui forum that I thought I’d expand on. When you book a vacation rental condo on Maui, what can you expect to find and what should you bring from home? What should be on your Maui packing list?Maui packing list

Vacation rentals and what is provided can vary greatly across the US and Canada. On Maui you can generally expect to find the following in a fully furnished vacation rental condo:

  • bedding
  • towels
  • beach towels
  • a starter pack of paper towel, toilet paper, trash bags and soap
  • dishes, pots and pans, small kitchen appliances

Beyond that it really depends on the owner, management company and cleaner. Some have a bare cupboard policy, others allow certain things to be left behind by guests. It’s a good idea to ask the owner/management company.

If you are staying at one of our Maui Oceanview Condos’ apartments, you will also find the following:

  • beach chairs, boogie boards, cooler (no umbrella unless left by a guest)
  • laundry soap/fabric softener
  • dish washer pods
  • tin foil, plastic wrap
  • fully stocked spice rack, salt & pepper
  • small DVD library (and a dedicated condo netflix account)
  • hair dryer
  • small book library
  • Maui guide book
  • power bar (to charge electronics)
  • laundry drying rack
  • basic cleaning supplies

Our policy is to evaluate things left behind by guests – we will leave some cooking oil and condiments if they look to be in good shape. If you are a guest and think something is questionable, please throw it out.

Your Maui packing list

Things you may consider bringing if you have room in your luggage:

  • a few ziploc baggies (for leftovers, snacks, your cell phone at the beach, to pack that wet swim suit on your last day)
  • extra trash bags (we provide 3-4)
  • your favorite bar of soap, shampoo/conditioner
  • sunscreen and after-sun care product
  • your favorite spices (a couple spoonfuls in a ziploc bag in checked luggage)
  • a few extra rolls of toilet paper (we supply 2 rolls/toilet)
  • a swim suit or two and a favorite beach cover-up if desired
  • casual clothing and shoes (even at the fancy restaurants all you need is a pair of khakis and Hawaiian-style top or a cute sundress).

But guess what? If you forget anything, we have stores here! You can just easily run out and buy it!

Maui packing list
Are you missing the beach?
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Three money-saving tips when booking a vacation rental

We all know that Maui isn’t the cheapest vacation destination. And yet it seems many of those who come are bitten by the Maui-bug. Here are some tips on how you can save money booking a vacation rental.

 

Book directly with the owner and avoid the middle-man.

I really cannot stress this enough. VRBO/Homeaway now charges a service fee to guests of anywhere from 5-12% (this is in addition to the owner paying a listing fee). The guest does not actually receive a service for this fee (ironically), the fee goes directly to the parent company Expedia. This service fee was implemented in February 2016 (initially at 4-9% but has recently increased). AirBnB is no better, they also charge guests a service fee, theirs is anywhere between 6-12%, however the owner does not pay a listing fee – rather just a 3% credit card transaction charge.

Hesitant to book directly because you don’t want to be scammed? No problem, check out MauiOwnerCondos. This is a listing site that verifies the condo’s ownership. Owners pay a flat rate to advertise their condos on the site with no additional fees payable by the guest.

Disclaimer: when booking a vacation rental it is always important to do some additional research to make sure you do not fall victim to a scam.

 

Kihei Surfside
Another sunset at the Kihei Surfside – love this place!
Book off-season

As you know, there are different seasons here on Maui. High season typically runs from mid-December through mid-April. This coincides with Christmas, whale season and generally winter on the mainland. Different owners have different season schedules as supply and demand varies even between complexes (complexes more popular with families will have an increased summer rate also for instance). There are definite savings to be found for instance by booking early December vs mid-December.

 

Ask about cash payment discounts

The majority of guests want to pay by credit card which provides an added layer of security and often gives them points or cash-back. But, especially if the condo has been recommended by a friend or you know the owner, it doesn’t hurt to ask if they’d consider a cash discount since they’d be saving on the credit card fees.

 

How can you book one of our condos?
Our beautiful Maui Kamaole condo

The cheapest way to book our condos is to book directly or through MauiOwnerCondos. Yes, I also advertise on VRBO and AirBnb.

Unfortunately if you initiate the booking process through VRBO or AirBnB, I cannot offer you to book directly. I’m sorry. Though I would love to, both VRBO and AirBnB have severe penalties for owners who try to direct potential renters off their sites (as they then lose revenue). What you can do, is click onto my website and email me directly off VRBO or AirBnB.

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BOOKED February opening at our Sugar Beach condo!

Sugar Beach lawn
Ahhhh… what a place to enjoy the view and work on your tan!

Thank you. This opening has now booked and is no longer available.

We’ve had a cancellation at our Sugar Beach condo. Yes, this means a rare February opening during the height of humpback whale watching season!

The dates available are February 18-28, 2017 and we ask for a 7 night minimum to fill this gap.

Our condo is located at North Kihei’s popular Sugar Beach Resort. It is a ground floor condo, facing into the courtyard, just 50 steps away from 5 mile long Sugar Beach. What a place to go for your morning (or sunset) walks! This is also a great place to watch the whales!

This is a 1 bedroom 1 bathroom condo with a 2 year-old California-king sized bed and a queen pull-out sofa in the livingroom. It sleeps up to four guests. Check here for much more information!

We would love to have you stay at our condo! With this being the height of whale season, these dates won’t last long!

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Last minute opening at Maui Kamaole!

We’ve had a last minute cancellation at our newly remodeled Maui Kamaole condo. The dates available are October 16-26, 2016. Stay a week or longer for $155/night (down from $179 regular rate) plus cleaning and tax. The discounted weekly rate is $1383.68. Shorter stays are $169/night plus cleaning and tax (four night minimum). (The new rates are not reflected in the website’s price quote).

Please send me an inquiry through the website and I’ll get you set up for a quick last minute Maui trip! We’d love to show off our newly remodeled condo.

Newly remodeled? Yep! We are done and our first post-remodel guest is staying at the condo!

What did we do?

  1. We pulled out the original kitchen, took out a wall (had to move some plumbing and electrical in the process), put in maple cabinetry, subway style backsplash and quartz counter top. We have a new stainless French door fridge and a new stainless dishwasher. I replaced the red with modern white dishes. Went through my inventory list and made sure we had absolutely every gadget, pot, skillet, covered dish etc that is on our list. We also have a good selection of small appliances, so hopefully you can cook whatever it is you want to (or blend drinks!)

    last minute
    The newly remodeled kitchen
  2. We took out the storage room and enlarged the main bathroom. The original bathroom had a shower stall and was just awkward and small. The new bathroom has a huge walk-in shower and just lots of room to get ready.

    last minute
    A huge modern bathroom for the family to get ready in (no worries, there’s a separate master bath for the adults)
  3. We replaced the master bath cabinetry also and added a second sink so couples each have their own space to get ready. We also replaced the bedroom furniture and hung new art.

    last minute
    Does this look comfortable? Hopefully not too comfortable – you want to go hit the beach, don’t you?
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Almost finished with our Maui Kamaole reno!

We are getting there! The Maui Kamaole reno is almost done! The kitchen is basically finished, the new stainless Frigidaire fridge and dishwasher installed…

maui kamaole reno

I do love how the cabinets and quartz counter turned out. The kitchen feels larger. There used to be a wall at the end of what is now the island. We took out that wall and pushed the island out by about 8 inches, so the kitchen is roomier. I can’t wait to clean and reorganize the kitchen on Thursday. Even more exciting – to have all the kitchenware leave our home office! Our office has been a bit of a war zone since starting the Maui Kamaole reno.

The new bedroom furniture has arrived – not visible in the picture is the new dresser. This mahogany bedroom set has a stalk of bamboo carved into it. Unique.

maui kamaole reno

I’ve purchased bedroom art for above the bed. Recognize this?

maui kamaole reno

I picked up three prints from the Rachael Ray gallery on Dairy Road in Kahului. Rachael, no not the famous chef, is one of my favorite local artists (closely tied with Beth Cooper who has fun colorful paintings – and helps Cindy clean our condos!). I love this ti leaf series, and Rachael helped me choose which ones to buy. The plan is to hang these above the bed. Color-wise they will tie in nicely with another art piece that we already had in the bedroom.

Once the contractors finish tomorrow, I’ll re-arrange everything and have a clearer picture of what goes where. I also picked up a throw pillow to give the lazy Ikea chair a splash of color.

The bathroom has been expanded, having removed a storage room, we now have a huge walkin shower and so much more room! I don’t have a wide-angle camera lens, but this picture gives you a hint.

maui kamaole reno
I honestly can’t wait to see this condo put together again! No more remodels for me! Well…. actually there is some work I’d like to get done around our house. Maybe next year!

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