It’s been six months since Covid-19 brought Hawaii travel to a standstill. As we anxiously await Hawaii Governor David Ige’s announcement of when tourism can resume to the Hawaiian islands, here is a trend to consider.
Yes, we are getting inquiries again. The big trend I’m seeing is longer-stay inquiries. Specifically we are seeing one or two month inquiries. At this time it’s mainly younger professionals, looking to escape the West Coast wild fires, or just work remotely from Maui since they are working remotely anyway. We’ve also had families whose kids are doing school remotely inquire.
Can you work remotely from Maui?
Well, why not? The main hurdle you will face is the State of Hawaii’s 14 day mandatory quarantine. Starting October 1 there is supposed to be a workaround, a ‘test negative pre-travel to avoid quarantine’ option. I hate to say this but….. it doesn’t sound like the State has the details worked out yet (what are they waiting for???). We will see if it gets further delayed (we were supposed to have this option August 1).
Well, Maui isn’t exactly the way you may remember it from your last trip. The disappearance of tourists has meant the closure or at least reduction of hours at many stores and restaurants. Many activities have shut down. We hope some of them will be able to restart their businesses once tourism resumes. Instead of having a fully packed and planned agenda, plan on a relaxed beach vacation. The businesses open will be thankful to serve you.
Are there any deals?
You bet! At this time we are offering 20% discounts on weekly, 35% discounts on monthly rentals. We may be able to give a better deal, depending on when you are planning to come? Please do get cancellation insurance. We will not refund due to Covid, however, if the State of Hawaii does not have a ‘test to avoid the quarantine’ option for your travel dates, we will give you a refund.
We are thrilled to welcome guests back to our condos. Today I cleaned and prepped our Kamaole Sands 2-206 condo for tomorrow’s arrival. We are thrilled to have them! Enjoy this walk-through video I shot today.
A number of years ago someone told me to advertise our Palms at Wailea condo‘s proximity to the Wailea Beach Walk. The distance to the beach, you mean? (It’s about a 10 minute walk) No, the Wailea Beach Walk – Wailea’s BEST walk!
On further investigation, I discovered what they meant. In my opinion, this is Wailea’s best walk. Specifically, the Wailea Beach Walk is a paved walking trail that runs from the Andaz resort on Keawakapu Beach all the way to the Fairmont by Polo Beach.
The best part about this walk is the amazing ocean view. The worst part….. the crowds. As it runs oceanfront of all the resorts, it is a busy place. Except these days. Did you know it’s been nearly five months since Maui’s tourism shut down thanks to Covid?
Usually we park at the public Polo Beach parking lot just south of the Fairmont Kea Lani and walk north. Yesterday we took advantage of available parking at Ulua Beach (just south of the Andaz) and walked south.
We walked past Wailea Elua (condos), the Wailea Marriott Resort (I always see turtles bobbing for sea weed here), the Grand Wailea and the Four Seasons. At that point we turned around and walked back to the car. From the Andaz to the Fairmont and back is about a 1 1/2 hour walk, or longer if you stop along the way to enjoy the views.
The Wailea Beach Walk was pretty empty yesterday as there are still virtually no tourists on island. As long as you look out over the beaches and ocean it’s a beautiful place. But I couldn’t help looking at the empty resorts and thinking of all the unemployed people struggling to make ends meet while the world deals with Covid.
When will tourism resume?
That is the million dollar question. Hawaii’s 14 day mandatory quarantine continues for now, severely restricting incoming travel. At this time Hawaii is trying to get its own Covid numbers back under control. There is some talk of bubble tourism which would allow tourists to return to an ‘all inclusive’ style vacation, unable to leave the resort. While this would help the participating big hotels, it would do little to help all the mom and pop tourist shops, restaurants, condo businesses etc.
So we continue to wait and see. It’s been five months without tourism.
How are things going Covid-wise in your neck of the woods? Here, after months of good numbers, the Hawaii governor has re-instated the inter-island quarantine AND pushed back the start ‘avoid quarantine by showing a negative test’.
We were doing well with low numbers, thanks to an island-wide shutdown and the mandatory quarantine. Then we got complacent as things opened back up. On Oahu the numbers have been increasing rapidly, with new cases numbering 200+/day in the past week.
Last week Hawaii Governor Ige (pronounced Ee-geh) instituted a new inter-island mandatory quarantine. It will run August 11-31, 2020. Oahu is also doing a partial shut-down, while Maui and the other neighbor islands are staying their current course. We’ll see what happens.
A week or two ago Canadian media outlets were running stories that Canadians will be allowed to travel to Hawaii once the mandatory quarantine to Hawaii is lifted. I haven’t seen this on any of the official sites here in Hawaii, so I’m not sure if it’s true. For now Canadians still have a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon re-entry from the US into Canada.
Cancellations of upcoming trips
Since everything is so up in the air with Covid-19, I have temporarily pushed back the ‘balance due date’ to 30 days prior to your arrival (from the usual 60 days). If you need to cancel your upcoming stay, please do so prior to the due date and please give as much notice as possible so we can reopen dates for others (mainly staycations).
Once you have paid your balance in full, your stay becomes non-refundable even for Covid-19 reasons. We always recommend trip cancellation insurance. As I understand, the only trip cancellation insurance that covers COVID-19 cancellations is a CFAR (Cancel For Any Reason) policy. Please study the terms of any cancellation insurance carefully to know what is and isn’t covered.
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Unfortunately there are problems with that. For one, local politicians and Hawaii residents have the jitters thanks to the surge in cases on the mainland. We are being told there is a shortage of testing kits because of the mainland surge. Many travelers and mainland owners are reporting problems getting tests (without having Covid-19 symptoms) and timely results which would be required at flight check-in. Finally, public school is slated to begin the first week of August and allowing tourism at the same time would make it more difficult to see if new flare-ups are community-based or due to travel (or so I’m told).
In short, it’s a bit of a kaffuffle.
Unfortunately, this further delays tourism to Hawaii and with that a kickstart to the economy and completely flat-lined tourism industry.
We wish you were here. I really do. In the mean time, we hope the US mainland is able to curb their cases so Hawaii politicians feel more comfortable with reopening to tourism. But we also hope the increasing numbers of returning Hawaii residents who traveled to the mainland this summer adhere to the terms of quarantine so that Hawaii also can keep its numbers under control.
How many people are actually arriving in Hawaii?
In case you are interested, here are the posted mainland arrival numbers for yesterday 7/12/20 as compiled by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. For comparison purposes, in 2019 the average arrivals were 35,000/day.
Crew = flight crew members
Transit = people who are in transit to another location through Hawaii and aren’t leaving the airport
Military = military exempt personnel
Exempt = people who are exempt from the 14-day quarantine after receiving prior approval from the state
Relocate to Hawaii = people who are moving to Hawaii
Returning Resident = people who indicate on the DOT’s form that they’re returning residents
Visitor = people who are not in the above categories
A few months ago the Governor of Hawaii instituted a mandatory quarantine for all arrivals into the State of Hawaii. We even had to quarantine when traveling between the Hawaiian islands with a few exceptions including medical travel.
Pre-Travel Testing Option for Trans-Pacific Travel Beginning August 1
Gov. David Ige announced today all travelers arriving in Hawai‘i from out-of-state will be required to get a valid COVID-19 test prior to their arrival, and to show proof of a negative test result, to avoid the 14-day quarantine. The pre-travel testing program begins Aug. 1. Out-of-state travelers arriving in Hawai‘i must get a PCR test prior to arrival from any testing location approved by the Hawai‘i State Department of Health. Evidence of a negative test result must be provided upon arrival in Hawai‘i. Without this, passengers arriving from out-of-state will be subject to the 14-day quarantine. No testing will be provided upon arrival at the airport.
DOH is still in the process of developing this program but anticipates requiring an FDA-approved PCR test from a CLIA certified laboratory. Travelers will be required to provide printed or emailed pre-test certification as evidence of a negative test result. Travelers will be responsible for the cost of the pre-travel test.
Temperature checks will continue at airports across the state. Anyone with a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees or who is experiencing other symptoms will be required to undergo a secondary screening at the airport with trained healthcare staff. In addition, travelers will be required to fill out the State of Hawai‘i Traveler and Health form.
Gov. Ige said, “Now is the time to work together to ensure that our residents and local businesses can safely reopen to incoming travelers. We expect more cases as travel reopens and the State is confident in its ability to monitor and respond to new cases. This is a marathon, not a sprint.” Numerous community leaders were instrumental in helping to develop the plan along with county mayor’s and legislative leadership.
State Health Director Dr. Bruce Anderson commented, “Lifting the 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travel will require an intensive airport screening process, increased contact tracing and monitoring of cases, and careful tracking of the state’s progress in controlling and containing the coronavirus. This is a huge undertaking by the state and a tremendous commitment from public health as we embark on these new and untested initiatives and face many unknowns. It is definitely a new normal and we have much to learn as we lift restrictions and rebuild our economy while safeguarding the health of our people.”
Exact details have yet to be figured out. Visitors would need to have the testing done at their own expense prior to getting to the airport and have results in hand.
What is an FDA approved PCR test?
The press release specifically mentions needing an FDA approved PCR test. I know there are several tests out there. Several of my side-job coworkers had them done in the past few months (thankfully testing negative). One had the full-on nasal swab experience (the turnaround time on her particular test was nearly a week), another had a cheek swab and had the results within a few hours. Here is what the FDA has posted on PCR tests – apparently there is even a home test kit. Who knew. At the press conference, Governor Ige mentioned working with CVS pharmacies for this proposed testing.
What does this mean for your Maui trip?
Not having to do the mandatory quarantine is in my mind definitely game-changing when it comes to planning your next Maui trip (or for us Hawaii residents, our next mainland trip). However, there are still many questions to be answered. Will visitors be able to get these tests on the mainland? How can you be sure to get the results on time for your trip? What if you test positive (please get trip cancellation insurance!!)?
I know the Hawaii visitor industry as a whole will be pushing hard for the governor’s office to provide answers and finalize details in the coming weeks. As I find out more information, I will post it here on the website.
I had just sent an email to all our upcoming guests yesterday and then sat down to watch Maui Mayor Mike Victorino’s press conference. I was expecting more of the same, information that affects me as I live here, but nothing positive about vacation rentals. Then – surprise! – he announced the reopening of vacation rentals effective June 16, 2020.
As of this Monday Hawaii Governor Ige extended the mandatory 14 day quarantine through July 31. He talked about infrared temperature scanners and possible testing that will be implemented at island airports in the coming month. We are hoping the quarantine will NOT be extended any further. However, with the recent upswing in Covid cases on the mainland, who knows.
On my walk along South Kihei Road yesterday evening I saw patrons sitting on a lanai at Fred’s Mexican Cafe. In normal times the restaurant would be packed with lines out the door, especially on Taco Tuesdays. I’ve seen people in line to pick up take-out, but this was the first time I saw someone being served on the lanai in…. months. I can’t wait til things get back to normal. Whatever the new normal will be.
Have you been on the Sugar Beach walk? Last weekend the pool at our Sugar Beach Resort condo reopened for condo owners and guests. With Covid-19 restrictions in effect, there are very few owners and guests on property. Sig has been doing a lot of work at our condos and wanted to sit in the hot tub, so off to the pool we went.
I felt the need for exercise and went for a Sugar Beach walk prior to joining him in the hot tub. If you have never been, this is a five mile stretch of beach in North Kihei in front of our Sugar Beach condo. It can get pretty windy, so you may want to time your walk to a less windy time of day to avoid the free exfoliating treatment! One of the best things about this walk is, if you get hot, just step into the ocean to cool off!
I do enjoy walking the beach. There were a number of people enjoying the sun, playing in the water, bringing in a sail boat and fishing. A few years ago we saw a fisher catch and then of course release a ray at this beach. That’s certainly not something I’ve seen caught before but I suppose it happens.
A portion of the beach is lined with Keawe trees. You will want to be very careful around these trees. They have thorns which are painful to step on especially when barefoot. Incidentally it seems every time my brother-in-law goes on a bike ride when on Maui, he gets a flat tire thanks to Keawe tree thorns.
A rare direct flight!
In other news, while sitting at the pool after my walk, I saw a plane flying into Maui. These days with Covid-19 that is sooo rare. There are currently three direct flights to Maui from the mainland. They are all Delta Airlines and arrive from LAX. If you are flying anywhere else, you have to first fly to Honolulu (HNL) on Oahu and then off. Life sure has changed.
It’s been a month since my last update post, so here goes. Hawaii has weathered the Covid-19 storm pretty well. On Friday we had our first day with no new cases in all of Hawaii. At least none that were tested positive.
In total for all Hawaiian islands they’ve had 629 reported cases with 17 deaths (total population of 1.4 million).
The State is slowly easing up on restrictions. Last weekend golf courses and county beach parks reopened (for exercise only, no sports or gatherings). This week retail and shopping malls are allowed to resume business operations (under strict guidelines of course).
The stay at home order and mandatory 14 day quarantine for all arrivals (including inter-island travel) continues through May 31, with the Senate committee in charge announcing that the quarantine will likely be extended.
Everyone is required to wear face masks when leaving their home (except to exercise). Lying on the beach/parks and congregating is not permitted at this time.
What does the mandatory 14 day quarantine involve?
When travelers arrive at the airport, they are met by the national guard or other authorities, checked for symptoms, and have to agree to the terms of the mandatory 14 day quarantine. There is an app they have to download prior to arrival and they are checked on multiple times a day (I’m told). See here for more information.
Basically, you can travel directly to the place you are staying at and then may not leave the room/condo for any reason unless to seek medical help. No shopping, no walking, no beach, simply 14 days of binge-TV-watching, reading, browsing the internet. Not exactly the vacation you planned.
Yes, the State has been enforcing and going after reported offenders. They’ve been getting a warning and then given the option of jail time to serve the remainder of their quarantine or returning to the mainland. There is talk of increasing fines.
What will happen next?
I would love to have a crystal ball as to how soon Hawaii State will reopen for business and visitors. Truthfully, this has hit Hawaii hard. For decades everyone has known that our economy needs to expand and not be so tourism-centered. With many hotels and resorts closed, all the associated businesses are either closed or operating on skeleton staffing. Affected businesses include hotels, resorts, condo owners, restaurants, activities providers, farmers, grocery stores, cleaners, maintenance people, rental car operators, Uber/Lyft drivers etc. State-wide unemployment numbers are at approximately 35% and the unemployment office has been hopelessly overwhelmed with all the applications.
The State cannot afford to maintain its current lock-down mode in the long run and is looking at ways to re-open for business responsibly. However, state-wide there are only 340 ICU beds ad 560 ventilators with the vast majority of those on Oahu. Besides allowing residents to once again move freely, Hawaii has been averaging 10 million visitors/year with Maui itself welcoming 3 million visitors in 2019. An influx in Covid-19 cases is a serious concern for our healthcare system.
Our five condos sit empty. Late March, April and May guests have been cancelled, rescheduled or given a credit for a future stay. The majority of June have cancelled as well with a few still waiting to see what may happen. If you have a booking at one of our condos, please reach out to me directly.
Sig has been working on some maintenance projects at both our Sugar Beach and Maui Kamaole condos. We are checking all our condos regularly to ensure there are no surprises. Of course we continue to pay our HOA fees, insurance, property taxes, advertising fees, maintenance and cleaning.
Our cleaners are maintaining the condos with regular cleans to keep them in top shape for when we are able to welcome guests to the condos again. When our wonderful long-time cleaner Cindy retired last year, we switched to Ed and his team who have stepped into Cindy’s footsteps and continue to do an excellent job cleaning, as evidenced by our guest’s review comments. Ed and his team are on top of their game and are currently working on new protocols and procedures to properly sanitize condos between guests once we are allowed to reopen.
It’s a whole new world these days and we are thankful for all of you in these strange times. We look forward to welcoming you and your family back to Maui sometime soon! In the mean time, aloha and a hui hou no (Aloha and see you soon)!
As you know from mandatory quarantines being instituted elsewhere, in Monopoly terms this means ‘do not pass go’. No stopping at grocery stores or running other errands, just go to your home or condo and order groceries in. The point of the quarantine is to protect others on island in case you have Covid-19. If you are returning home to Hawaii, you have a support system of people to help you with this. If you are coming to Hawaii on vacation – frankly, this is not a vacation. As nice as the condo is, it’s not that nice that you want to spend 14 days in it. Internet speed on Maui is pretty slow.
While it may seem harsh to some, please remember that the Covid-19 situation is a lot worse in other parts of the US. Hawaii is the most isolated center of population on earth, 2400 miles away from the nearest landmass (California). The government feels they have the opportunity but also the obligation to isolate to protect our population as it takes significant time for help and supplies to arrive, if they are even available to come.
What does this mean for you
If you are already on island, the mandatory 14 day quarantine does not affect you. However, on Maui for instance, the social distancing mandate went into effect on Friday (March 20). Return flights are being cut – Westjet I believe stops flying its regular flights today. Hawaiian Airlines has announced they are cutting their flights. My friend’s son just returned from his year abroad in Spain yesterday (yes, he is in quarantine), and I’ve been seeing pictures of very empty airplanes. Please check directly with your airline about your return flight as I’m sure other airlines will be cutting flights in an attempt to preserve funds.
If you are still hoping to come to Hawaii on your vacation, please keep a very close eye on Hawaii news. Things are changing on a daily basis. Great sources are Hawaii News Now for Hawaii news, Maui Now and Maui 24/7 for Maui specific news. If you are staying at one of our condos, please email or call me.
There have been reports of sign-wavers near the airport, rudely telling those arriving to go home. This is embarrassing and uncalled for. However, please understand that as everywhere in the world, people are stressed and panicking about their health and our already fragile health care system. Covid-19 has been brought to the islands by those arriving from other places. Ironically the majority of cases are locals returning home, but that fact is lost on the sign-wavers.
Of course, concern regarding visitors is not helped when they are seen blatantly violating social distancing rules (keeping 6 feet distance from others).
Almost everyone I know here in Hawaii is affected by tourism. Social distancing, tourists staying home and mandatory quarantines is creating economic hardship for all on the islands.
Clearing my head
Yesterday after an early dinner I went for a walk. If we are healthy, we are still allowed to leave the house and go for walks. It’s been seemingly forever since I went to the beach for sunset. It appears others had the same thoughts as I. One local family was having a beach bbq at the County beach park (I didn’t count to see if they were following the ‘groups of 10 or less’ County rule). Many were standing or sitting on the beach, enjoying the view while a few kids still played in the water.
This too will pass. I don’t know when. But it will.
Aren’t these strange dystopian times we are currently living in? It is so surreal that the entire world is facing this same COVID-19 crisis at the same time. We here on Maui are fortunate to face social distancing and school closures in the tropics instead of say in winter-bound Edmonton. Maui itself has two confirmed cases of COVID-19 at this time.
Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino announced new public health emergency rules for Maui County effective this Friday March 20th at 7:45AM. As I read it, restaurants and cafes can still serve take-out (no dine-in), public attractions are to close, the Road to Hana (together with all its roadside stops) is closed with exception to local traffic (all tours including private drivers are halted). Grocery stores, convenience stores, banks and others will remain open per the article.
First, we and our condos are still here. The condos are being well-cleaned and sanitized and are ready for guests. After a busy winter season Sig is tackling some of his maintenance projects. And did you hear we replaced a number of our mattresses last month?
If you have booked your Maui vacation rental with me, please contact me directly. I have reached out to all our guests arriving through end of April to discuss the terms of your contract and reschedule your stay.
For all non-Airbnb guests, if you have a balance payment due, please contact us before making your final payment. If you are more than 60 days away from your arrival, you can still cancel and get your deposit back subject to the terms of the rental agreement. We certainly hope that travel will again be possible in the next few months.
What does this mean for us?
Well, as with everyone else in our industry we are currently experiencing many cancellations/reschedules. We will continue to pay our cleaners even for the cancelled cleans to help them remain financially afloat. We very much look forward to COVID-19 settling down and the world becoming more stable again. And we look forward to welcoming you here on Maui for your next Maui trip! Hopefully in one of our beautiful Maui Oceanview Condos.
In the mean time, one would hardly believe it’s high season. In the past two days I’ve twice been able to easily turn left from Keonekai onto South Kihei Road at the unregulated intersection. I wonder just how slow it will get…. Hopefully not for long, our tourist economy will be hurting for a long time.
Safeway update – well stocked, except I noticed there was no rice, no pasta and little fresh meat available. I did not check for toilet paper.