Maui, Hawaii

Tag: condo

Disaster Preparedness

disaster preparedness
Hurricane Lane as at 8/20/18 at 5pm

June through November is hurricane season in the Pacific and as of now we have Hurricane Lane, a category 4 hurricane, preparing to pass close to the Hawaiian Islands Thursday/Friday. I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now. I guess now is the time to do it. This is more of a general post on what to be aware of if staying in one of OUR condos. It is by all means NOT intended to be an all-inclusive list, but hopefully will give you some sense of what to expect.

Please note that in case of a disaster, Sig and I will be in touch and try to help as much as we can.

KNOW YOUR CONDO’S STREET ADDRESS. Note that the condo’s cable phone will NOT work during a power outage.

During a disaster it is important to keep calm and use common sense. The condo’s front desk of the property will become the resort’s command center. Please listen to the local news and check with the front desk for more information. During a disaster the Maui Police Department is inundated with calls – they will triage these 9-1-1 calls. It is important for you to secure your valuables (we have a safe at each of our condos).

For hurricanes and tsunamis (except locally generated) you will have time to prepare.

Check your condo’s binder on whether you are in the flood zone and need to evacuate (Sugar Beach Resort and Kihei Surfside yes, Palms at Wailea and Maui Kamaole no). Portions of South Kihei Road itself are considered flood zone and may be blocked off – you may not be able to leave the property after the event. The local power plants and water treatment facilities are also in the flood zone. Be prepared to go up to seven days without water, electricity and outside help. Clean the bathtub and fill it and as many containers as you can find with fresh tap water. Locate and check the condo’s flashlight, check batteries. Charge all your electronic devices. If you have time, stock up on food, paper plates, batteries (for flashlight & radio), gasoline (for your rental car), cash (possibility of no credit card/bank machines in power failure) etc. Avoid unnecessary travel as the roads become clogged quickly.

 

Earthquakes cause landslides, property damage, and tsunami waves.

Local earthquakes are no-notice events. There is no way to predict them. If you feel an earthquake, DROP, COVER and HOLD ON.

If there is a local earthquake, it typically takes 3-5 minutes for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center to let Civil Defense know if a local tsunami has been generated. If the earthquake is strong enough to knock you off balance and you are in an evacuation zone, move uphill as soon as things stop moving. Don’t wait for a siren. You may only have a few minutes until the tsunami wave arrives.

 

Tsunamis

A tsunami is a series of waves caused by a local or distant earth quake. Do not go to the beach to watch until the all-clear has been given (usually a number of hours). Tsunamis can create erratic currents and there can be debris washed into the water, so stay out of the ocean for a few days.

Maui is equipped with tsunami warning sirens (these are tested on the first day of the month at 11:45am). If you hear them sounding otherwise, move to higher ground and tune in to local news for more information. The siren closest to you may be out of order. If you are in a remote area, there may not be a siren. Signs of a pending tsunami: the earth shakes strong enough to knock you off balance, you hear the ocean roar, or there is a sudden pulling back of the water.

The water treatment facilities are shut down 30 minutes before the first tsunami wave is scheduled to arrive. Avoid flushing the toilet until the all-clear has been given, waste water will flow untreated into the ocean (another reason to stay out of the ocean for a few days after).

You may or may not be in a flood evacuation zone. There will be emergency shelters that open, if you do need to evacuate. Listen to the news and check the front desk for more information. Do not go to an emergency shelter until it has opened and, very importantly, you will be expected to bring your own suppliesEven if you do not need to evacuate, keep in mind you may be without water and utilities and the road may be blocked.

 

Hurricane/cyclone

Hurricanes have 3 danger components: wind (can also cause tornadoes), rain and lightning, storm surge. During a hurricane, you want to button down anything loose outside (move all patio furniture inside), secure all doors and windows and then stay away from windows.

Again, you may or may not be in a flood evacuation zone. There will be emergency shelters that open, if you do need to evacuate. Listen to the news and check the front desk for more information. Do not go to an emergency shelter until it has opened and, very importantly, you will be expected to bring your own supplies.

Stay out of the ocean for several days. Storms wash debris into the ocean and stir up the ocean currents.

 

Internet Resources

Maui County Civil Defense (check under Departments tab)

Central Pacific Hurricane Center

Pacific Tsunami Warning Center

KHON2 News (mainly Oahu)

MauiNow News

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It’s Hurricane Season – again

Did you know that the Pacific Ocean also has a hurricane season? I remember mainland news focusing in the Caribbean in years past, but yes, we also have hurricane season – and it also runs from June through November (6 months).

Normally we don’t get much hurricane wise, but a few years ago (2015 and 2016) we sure felt like we were on a roller coaster. At the time I wrote a number of blog posts about hurricanes and what to expect. With Hurricane Hector approaching the islands, I thought this would be a good time to revisit the topic.

 

Hurricane Hector

Wait a minute? Did you say hurricane? Yup. There is a Category 4 hurricane approaching the Hawaiian Islands as we speak.  For more scientific information on Hector, do check out the Central Pacific Hurricane Center’s website. They have many details, cool graphs etc.

Hurricane Hector

Should you be concerned? At this time forecasters are saying Hector will likely miss Hawaii and not to worry. However, they point out we should keep an eye on it, just in case. A few decades ago Hurricane Iniki, the last hurricane to do major damage to Hawaii, was also forecast to miss Hawaii. Unfortunately it veered off course and did major damage to Kauai in 1992. So yes, it’s important to be aware. But no need to panic – yet. In the past number of years any hurricanes and tropical storms that have hit Hawaii, have hit Big Island and its 2 large (14,000+ ft) volcanoes first, dismantling the storm system. Maui is so-to-say rather protected.

 

What to expect from Hurricane Hector

The immediate things we  are likely to see are an increase in clouds, wind and humidity. We may even get rain here in Kihei (honestly, that would be a great thing – it’s bone dry). What you however can’t see, is how the ocean currents are affected by the storm. Please, during and for a few days after the storm if you must go to the beach (if the weather looks ok), go to a beach with life guards and actually take the time to ask them about the ocean conditions. These storm systems can and do affect ocean currents, stirring things up and can increase chances of shark vs human activity. Please be safe and if in doubt, do not go out.

As I mentioned, at this moment it looks like Maui will be fine. Please keep an eye on local media (Maui Now, KHON) for updates and please use common sense.

 

Out of curiosity – what to expect if Maui were to get hit

Good question, I haven’t actually witnessed a hurricane. I have a disaster preparedness sheet in each of our condo’s binders – review it and monitor local (not Oahu, but Maui specific) media. However, Maui’s Civil Defense has a list of what to do. Check it out.

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Sunset picnic

It was another beautiful day today. After a day at the office I headed over to our Kihei Surfside condo to prepare it for tomorrow’s guests’ check-in. It was much too beautiful a day to go home, so I headed over to the Island Market at the Shops at Wailea to pick up some dinner.

sunset picnic

I sampled some of the poke and picked up two types of poke and an ocean salad. Poke is raw marinated fish – often ahi (tuna). Ocean salad is strips of kelp and sea weed with a slightly sweet salad dressing. This may not be your idea of a picnic dinner – but if not, they have a great deli section with many take-out options.

sunset picnic
The Island Gourmet Market is an ABC store with a great deli section.

 

I then headed back to our Kihei Surfside condo and had an ocean-front picnic.

You honestly can’t beat this view.

sunset picnic

My picnic dinner was delicious.

 

And sunset was beautiful.

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Big Island’s lava flow

It’s hard to miss Hawaii in the news these days. Big Island’s Kilauea lava flow is making headlines around the world. The pictures and video footage are incredible. Unfortunately some of the media coverage has been misleading, leading people to believe all of Hawaii is under siege.

Another owner at the Palms at Wailea complex told me yesterday that a family had cancelled due to the volcanic eruption on our neighboring island. She had done her best to convince the family that their Hawaii vacation was safe, but they cancelled, losing thousands of dollars in airfare and accommodations (guess what, the cancellation insurance told them no – they weren’t covering cancellation due to an event far removed from their stay). Bummer.

So, some clarification – what is this recent lava flow on Big Island all about?

Taking it back to the basics – Hawaii is comprised of multiple islands. Our condos are located on Hawaii’s second largest island, Maui. Big Island (also known as the Island of Hawaii) is the largest and newest island in the Hawaiian island chain. Hawaii’s islands were formed by volcanic eruptions out of the ocean floor. The Island of Maui itself has one extinct volcano (West Maui Mountains) and one dormant volcano (Haleakala – its most recent eruption dating back to the 1480s). Big Island – to the East of us – is comprised of five volcanos, of which Mauna Loa and Kilauea are considered active. Mauna Loa most recently erupted around 30 years ago, Kilauea has been having continuous volcanic activity for the past 35 years.

lava flow
Here is a helpful schematic I found on Facebook.

 

A year and a half ago I took our boys to Big Island for a helicopter tour of Kilauea and the Pu’u O’o Vent. It was fascinating. Here is a trip report from that experience.

What are the conditions on Maui – is Maui at all affected by the volcanic eruption?

I live in Kihei (in South West Maui) and these are the current conditions: the sky is blue, the air is clear, there is no effect from Kilauea’s current antics. The ocean temperature has not risen here (yes, this has been asked), we cannot see the lava, in fact, it’s business as usual here.

Can that change? Yes – the only effect that we may see is vog (volcanic air pollution). This is something we have experienced from time to time in the past 35 years since Kilauea has (most recently) been active. Hawaii’s prevalent trade winds are currently blowing the vog west and out to sea. However, every now and then the trade winds do subside. When that happens, southerly (Kona) winds can blow the vog up to Maui. The sky will appear hazy and we have the most amazing sunsets, but most people will hardly notice. If you have asthma, you will want to take precautions.

Should you be avoiding Big Island?

It depends. Yes, you should absolutely avoid the eastern-most corner (the Puna district of Big Island) as local residents are dealing with their own trauma. However, many other parts of Big Island are absolutely safe. In fact, I just read that the annual Iron Man Tournament is slated to go ahead next month (it takes place on the West coast of Big Island). Here’s another graphic I found on Facebook.

For good coverage on Kilauea’s lava flow I recommend Hawaii News Now.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Big Island’s affected residents. Praying for safety and that the current eruptions stop soon.

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Monthly warning siren testing

Maui’s new warning sirens

If you’ve been here around the first of the month, you should be familiar with the monthly warning siren testing that takes place. Loud sirens sound at 11:45AM on the first day of every month. This checks that the sirens are operational and is meant to be a reminder to all that tsunamis can happen.

Starting tomorrow (Friday, December 1st) the State is adding an additional ‘wailing’ siren test to the monthly routine. This is called the attack warning siren and will sound in conjunction with the tsunami warning siren on the first day of every month at 11:45AM. I am told it will be a wailing tone that goes for about a minute. Click here for a sound sample as reported by MauiNow.

As an FYI, the tsunami siren test is a 45 second steady tone. During an actual tsunami warning, it goes for 3 minutes.

What should you do when you hear warning sirens?

If it’s the first of the month and at 11:45AM, it’s just a test. No further action needed.

These older warning sirens have for the most part been replaced.

If you hear these sirens at any other time, you need to take action. If it’s the tsunami siren, you need to head to higher ground immediately. It could be a locally triggered tsunami and you may have just a few minutes to get to safety. Tune in to radio or TV for further instructions. Depending on where the earthquake happened, we sometimes have up to 10 hours notice (no the sirens won’t go off that far in advance).

Locally triggered tsunamis? Yes, tsunamis are triggered by some earthquakes. While Hawaii is far removed from fault lines, we do have volcanic activity which causes earthquakes (generally they are rather small and I don’t recall experiencing a locally triggered tsunami in the past 7 years on island).

If it’s the attack warning siren, that indicates that a nuclear attack is imminent. Head indoors, close doors and windows and turn on radio or TV for further instructions for a pending emergency. Having said that, I assume you’d have to be find a local station?

Isn’t it crazy that things have deteriorated on the world stage that we need to plan for this?  The last time these attack sirens were tested was in the 1980s. Is the State expecting a nuclear attack? Politicians think it’s unlikely. And yet, State planners are running through scenarios so that they are prepared in case something were to happen. It’s good to have a plan. Hopefully we will never need to use it.

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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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June 2-9 Cancellation Special!

I just had a call from a guest who needs to cancel his June 2-9, 2017 booking at our beautiful Maui Kamaole I-103 condo!

Maui Kamaole
Welcome to Maui Kamaole I-103

How about a Maui getaway? We just renovated this condo this past fall. It is an over-sized one bedroom, two bathroom condo. California king bed in the bedroom and a queen Murphy bed (the kind that hides in the cabinet) in the over-sized living. No need to sleep on a pull-out couch!

Sleeps 4 guests.

$160/night plus $135 cleaning and 13.417% tax. Minimum stay is 4 nights.

Call 808-281-7934 to book, or send me an email!

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