Maui, Hawaii

Tag: condo

Renovation Time – AGAIN!

It’s been one of those years of projects, the entire Kihei Surfside building being shut down for 6 months for a big exterior renovation, both the Palms at Wailea and Maui Kamaole pool decks being refinished with beautiful quartzite-look tile.

Our last Palms at Wailea guest has checked out for the summer. Now we are actually doing some INTERIOR remodeling! Sig and I spent the morning at our condo, emptying bathroom cabinets, pulling out all the bedding, towels, beach gear, removing art from the walls. It will help make things less complicated for the contractor and protect our things from inevitable construction dust.

This is the first of two loads we fit in our pickup truck. Now for finding a temporary home for it at our house!

We bought this condo 4 1/2 years ago. Just prior to purchasing the condo, the previous owner had installed a beautiful white carpet to help the condo sell. Argh. White carpet in a vacation rental??? To be fair, most our guests have loved the soft, cushy (and very clean) carpet – it just makes the whole condo feel so homey. However, I’ve worked hard to keep it clean and stain-free, shampooing it at least four times a year, either with my own carpet cleaner or by calling in ‘the big guns’, my friend Dave from Jordans Services.

But enough is enough, I’m done with the carpet! So tomorrow is its last day! We are replacing it and all floor tile with a beautiful new 20 inch porcelain tile. I am so excited! Of course, where do you draw the line? The bathrooms are still okay though a bit dated, so the bathrooms are being overhauled also. I am excited about the new oversized walk-in shower in the ensuite, replacing an awkward bathtub. I’ve also ordered new window coverings and we’ll be getting new bedroom furniture. Oh yeah, and the large wrap-around lanai is also getting a face-lift with new tile and new lanai furniture.

We are scheduled to complete end of October in time for our repeat guests M & D to arrive. Yes, chi-ching, this is going to be one of the more expensive remodels we’re undertaking. But I can’t wait to see the new look! I will be sure to post pictures and get new professional shots taken once it’s complete!

In the mean time, this condo is pretty booked up this winter. We do still have an opening Dec 9-19, 2015 and March 2-15, 2016 if you are looking for a winter get-away! Reminder, this is a two bedroom two bathroom condo which sleeps up to four guests.

But Cara, haven’t you already renovated this condo? Why yes, yes we have done a fair bit of work at our Palms at Wailea condo already! In 2011 we repainted and replaced the beds and living room furniture. In 2012 we replaced the entire A/C system at the condo (reminder it has split A/C units in both bedrooms and the living room). In 2013 we replaced the rotting glass sliding doors. In 2014 we replaced the ‘lemon’ stainless Kenmore fridge with a new stainless GE. After the current remodel the only thing left will be the kitchen cabinets. But the cabinets are still looking great, the new tile floor will give the kitchen a nice boost, and it has beautiful stainless steel appliances already. Maybe we’ll get lucky and 2016 will be strictly a rental year, with no work needed 🙂

The stainless GE fridge we bought last year. Knock on wood, this one has been great!
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Sleepover Time at our Sugar Beach Condo!

Once a year we try to stay in our condos. It’s a really good practice to stay at your own vacation rental and many owners do this when they come to Hawaii on vacation. It’s a great time to pick up on things that need maintenance, fixing, improving etc. Yes, we go into our condo between each booking, tackling repairs as they are reported/we notice them, and doing things on our regular maintenance schedule, but some things you don’t notice until you actually use it.

In my head I know it’s a good idea, but in practice it is extra work – it means that I have to pack up our family’s stuff, go there, sleep there, then completely clean and prep the condo for the next guest in addition to tackling the new to-do list. It’s the weekend, and I was feeling energetic, so we had a sleepover at our Sugar Beach condo before I changed my mind 🙂

We picked up dinner-to-go from Safeway, some ready-made ribs, fresh bread and a lemon meringue pie for desert and ate at the condo. Unfortunately things didn’t go quite as planned time-wise and we ended up eating dinner during sunset in the condo. Ah well. I had hoped to walk the beach at sunset. Then off to the pool we went, first to cool off, then to sit in the hot tub. We met and visited with two couples in the hot tub, one celebrating an anniversary, the other on their honeymoon. We chatted with them for a bit, then Sig went home (he doesn’t appreciate these sleepovers) and the kids and I went back to the condo.

Oh my goodness, the bed we bought last year is so comfortable. I’ve been getting positive reviews from guests on it, but it was nice to try it myself too!

Do I have a hunny-do list for Sig and I? Yes! Nothing big, but a few things I noticed that we will address in the next few weeks between bookings.

By the way, we still have some openings at our Sugar Beach condo this fall! You too can come try that comfortable bed and walk the beach at sunset!

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Check-in and Tree Trimming at our Sugar Beach condo

Yesterday was a check-in day at our Sugar Beach condo. Cindy had already given me the ‘all clear’ after cleaning the day before. Sig had already been in to get the lanai door screen back in its track (the previous guest had knocked it off track – it happens).

So I drove over with my trunk full of goodies. I always carry a big Costco-sized jug of laundry soap and fabric softener in the back of my car so I can refill the condo jugs for our guests. Why have a washer and dryer if you don’t have soap, after all. I also had with me a supply of condo pens and paper, a few guest mac nuts (plain salted, chocolate and garlic & onion – try the garlic & onion, they are really good!), a starter pack of coffee, rags for random wiping, air freshener (sometimes guests fry up the last of their bacon the day they leave – that smell is hard to knock out). I looked around, checked the TVs to make sure they were set to TV mode (nothing like having to figure out how to switch the input right off the bat, though we do have instructions in the instruction manual in the TV cabinet). I checked the guest book (happy guestbook entry, mahalo!), placed the new towels Cindy had asked for in the bathroom cabinet. I double-checked the safe (we once had a guest forget a wedding band in there, oops!).

As I was leaving I snapped a picture of the palms being trimmed in the parking lot. Have you ever wondered why they need trimming and how they do it? Certain palm trees shed their spent palm fronds (they come crashing down on their own, hopefully not hitting a car or person below). These trees need to be manually cut. Also, all coconuts are removed (also for safety reasons – guide books will actually warn you to NOT sit under a coconut palm, those are high up and they pick up speed and power when they fall down and land on your head). One of my kids actually asked for a palms-climbing set a few years ago. It just looks like fun!

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Summer Specials!!

Looking for a getaway? Maui is on sale 🙂

We have some availability at three of our condos. Check it out!

Our 1 bedroom 1 bathroom ground floor Sugar Beach condo is on sale at $139/night plus cleaning and tax for new bookings for all remaining dates from July 6-Sept 30, 2015.

Sugar Beach condo living room

Our 2 bedroom 2 bathroom ground floor Palms at Wailea condo has some availability August 19-31. Ideally I am looking for a 10 night stay, or a one week stay starting August 20th or ending August 30th (so that we can maybe fit two bookings). Discounts will vary depending on how well your booking fits this opening.

Palms at Wailea condo master bedroom

Our hugely popular 1 bedroom 2 bathroom ground floor Maui Kamaole condo has a fair bit of availability this summer and we are renting it out for a record low $145/night plus cleaning and tax for all remaining dates before September 18, 2015.

Maui Kamaole condo living room

Why so much availability you ask? I purposefully didn’t take any bookings for this month as the lower pool which is nearby is getting a new pool deck and I wasn’t sure just how loud it would be. The loudest part (blasting) has been completed, now they are cutting and laying quartzite tile. After spending some time in the condo, I am happy to report you can’t hear the construction noise as long as windows and doors are closed (we have a/c). Construction is taking place 7 days a week 8am-5pm, after which you can open the windows and doors and enjoy the oceanview lanai. And yes – there is a second pool a short 2 minute walk away, so you can still enjoy a pool and hot-tub.

So what do you think? Is a Maui trip in order? Check the availability calendars and give me a call at 808-281-7934.

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Happy Independence Day!

courtesy of Maui’s own Shaka Pops!
handmade gourmet popsicles, for sale in select
grocery stores, at the Swap Meet and Westin
Kaanapali Resort today.

It is here – the Fourth of July! A big day for Americans, the celebration of their independence from Great Britain in 1776. Happy birthday America!

Our family aren’t the ra-ra-America nor the ra-ra-Canada type of people. Don’t get me wrong, we love our countries, both our birth country and our adopted country. But we just don’t get sentimental about it either way. This morning as I was pouring my coffee it struck me as kind of ironic. Today the US celebrates its independence from Great Britain. Canada on the other hand still has significant ties to Great Britain as a member of the British Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth’s picture is on all its money. The two countries are in some ways quite different, and in others quite similar.

How is Independence Day celebrated in Maui? There are those who celebrate it, and there are those are are quite antagonistic about it. The result, a rather subdued affair. Yes, there are activities and fireworks in Lahaina at 8pm. Every year there are questions – aren’t there fireworks in Wailea? I know in years past there have been small displays put on by the hotels, but I haven’t heard of any this year. And yes, Costco and other stores have been busy selling fireworks, I am sure there will be many going off in neighborhoods around the island. BY THE WAY fireworks are not allowed at most (if not all) condo complexes!

Wait a minute, you said people are antagonistic? Towards Independence Day? What’s that all about? Read up on the US overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and annexation of Hawai’i in 1898. To this day it is quite controversial in Hawai’i.

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Pack-up-the-condo Day!

Yesterday we took the final steps of prepping our Kihei Surfside condo for the big building overhaul. The blinds have been taken down – the ones we no longer need are finding a new home at Habitat for Humanity. The funky red couch has found a new home with a local family that didn’t own a couch. Yes, of course we’ll be replacing it in the fall. Linens and towels have been laundered and are being stored under the piano at our house. The carpeted areas have been measured for new flooring. Art-work and breakables have been moved to a safer location. Furniture has been moved from windows and wrapped against damage.

Our pretty kitchen
The view from the kitchen – the ceiling fan blades have been removed from
the ceiling fan so the window people have more room to manoeuvre. I can’t wait
to see what this will look like with floor to ceiling glass windows and railings!

The condo sure looks different. And the grounds are starting to look like a construction site. The parking lot is closed, is being fenced off and filled with construction materials and those ever-present port-o-potties. Yes, there will be security on property.

The sod next to the building is being rolled up and sold. It will be replaced once all the scaffolding has been removed in time for the next guests.

Somewhat fittingly it was an overcast day yesterday. A little sad to be closing up the condo, and yet we are excited for this renovation to start up.

Yesterday’s overcast ocean view from our condo
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Kihei Surfside shut-down

Today is an exciting day for us! After more than two years of planning, it’s the last day of our rentals at our Kihei Surfside condo pre-renovation. No, not the interior, though we have a few minor projects that we hope to tackle in October. The exterior of the building is being re-done. This 40 year-old oceanfront building is receiving a face-lift! Floor-to-ceiling glass windows and glass railings, new lanai surfacing, some spalling repairs and a waterproofing/paint job. We are excited!

The exterior of Kihei Surfside is getting a face-lift! We can’t wait!

Spalling you ask? What is that? This is something that plagues oceanfront properties. This is something that happens when the salt air finds its way through tiny air holes in concrete and starts rusting the rebar in the building. All oceanfront buildings experience this, and as long as the building is properly maintained and water-proofed, the buildings are fine. But maintenance is the key!

Once our guests check out this morning, we start packing up linens, towels and valuables, moving furniture to the interior of the unit, removing blinds and shutters…

Welcome home to our toaster! So glad to have you back!

Very excitingly for our family, it also means the return of our toaster! What, you may say? The guests called Saturday to let us know the toaster had died, so I temporarily loaned our toaster to the condo. Driving to Kahului to buy a toaster to get a guest through the final 3 days of their stay seemed unnecessary particularly as noone will be needing a toaster for the next 5 months. I’ll bring it home today. We’ll check the old toaster (which we had just replaced a few months ago). If it no longer works, we’ll get a new one for the next check-in.

In the mean time, with this condo, I will kick back and relax and wait for the renovation to be complete!

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Stay-cation Research trip

Our family went on a little stay-cation this past summer. We drove an hour to west Maui where we had rented a beautiful 2 bedroom condo at the Honua Kai at the end of Ka’anapali. Call it a research trip. This is a five year old building, condos renting at double what our nicest condo at Palms at Wailea rents for (and that in off-season). Sig has drooled over this building for the past year, and I finally insisted we needed to stay there before we got too serious.

the beautiful condo we rented on VRBO at the Honua Kai

From the moment we walked in the door, Sig was walking around, looking at finishings, details, appliances, ‘what do they have that we are missing?’ etc. I was trying to get all the frozen items from our cooler into the freezer, as he was pulling me away to read a label (the type was too small), or ‘check this out!’ Within the first minute upon arrival I realized this trip was going to be a write-off. Condo research supreme. And you know what, that’s fine. They had nice pools for the kids, our condo had a stellar view, and since Sig can’t relax or just sit, he might as well do something for the condos.

So yes, this condo has some beautiful features. And we’ve taken pictures, made notes and will consider if and how we can incorporate some of them in our properties.

our late afternoon view was gorgeous

It also is missing some key things.

Like hooks or a drying rack. As a family of five, we came back from the pools/beach and had no place to hang our wet swim suits and beach towels. You are not allowed to hang them on the lanai (thankfully, it would look incredibly tacky to see everyone else’s beach gear on the lanais), but there are no hooks and too few towel rods in the bathrooms. So we put them in the dryer, which took 2 1/2 hours to dry four towels – it was a fancy condensation dryer since the building does not have proper dryer ventilation. Wow – I groaned inwardly at the thought of the owner’s power bill.

But Cara, what about at your condos, you ask? Our condos have either retractable hotel-style laundry lines in the bathtubs (perfect for hanging dripping swim wear) or collapsible clothes racks (or both). Please be considerate when using them indoors and set them up on tiled areas only (not carpets or laminate flooring).

Looking back from our condo into the courtyard.
This is definitely apartment living with little privacy

We loved the condo, but what would have made it perfect? Something to do in down-time, when you’re taking a break from the beach/pool. Like DVDs, or books, a stereo or some games.

We loved having a restaurant (Duke’s) on site, and having a convenience store and gym in the building were definite perks.

Parking was complicated (in the basement parkade of the other tower) and there was a daily charge for parking (our condos have parking closeby and it’s free). And instead of keyless entry (which our condos have), we had hotel-style cards to enter the building and our condo. A bit of a nuisance and an extra thing to forget.

All in all, it was fun to get away and be a tourist, even if it’s just an hour’s drive away. But, it is an hour’s drive away from South Maui. And while we loved the complex, we have after much consideration decided not to purchase at this property.

Many of our guests appreciate our being hands-on owners, just a short drive away from our properties, able to help when needed. A one hour drive (and that’s without traffic delays) is a little far away to be hands-on.

Ah well. If you are looking for a place on the west-side and have money to spend, do check it out. It was wonderful. If you like a little more privacy, less busy-ness at more reasonable rates, do check out our condos.

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Is your Maui vacation rental legal?

The front page article in this Sunday’s Maui News is about Maui County’s crackdown on illegal vacation rentals and bed and breakfasts. Are you feeling panicked yet? Chances are, your vacation rental is legal, especially if you are staying at one of the vacation rental resorts in Kihei, Wailea, Maalaea, Lahaina or Kaanapali. Many of those condo complexes are already zoned hotel/resort and are grandfathered in for vacation rental purposes (as long as the owners declare it as a vacation rental to the County for tax purposes – this would roughly quadruple the property taxes compared to if it is owner occupied).

The illegal ones may be in condo complexes that have long-term (longer than 6 months) rental restrictions, or in residential neighborhoods (though there are some that are permitted in residential neighborhoods). 
The entrance to popular vacation rental property ‘The Palms at Wailea‘.
Its sister property, Wailea Palms which is directly next door,
does not allow vacation rentals (the AOAO has a minimum 6 month rental policy
and the County of Maui’s property tax rates are adjusted accordingly).
Why does the County care if a property is zoned for vacation rentals or not? The property tax rate is much higher than if the property is owner-occupied or even a long-term rental. Also, the County limits the number of vacation rentals and bed and breakfasts in residential neighborhoods to keep pacify the neighbors (when someone applies for a vacation rental or b&b permit, the neighbors have a say in it).
The danger of renting an illegal or should we say un-permitted vacation rental or bed and breakfast is that if they are found out by the County, they have five days from receiving their notice to shut down operations, or will be fined $1000/day they continue operating. This means that your booking would be cancelled. In high season, this would be disastrous as everything is booked up well in advance. You may end up pitching a tent on the beach (oh right, on many beaches that’s also illegal). In the past the County has relied on disgruntled neighbors reporting these rentals, but now they are stepping up the ante, finding them on vacation rental sites, such as VRBO, Homeaway, Flipkey, Airbnb etc.
How do you as the renter ensure your vacation rental is legal? 
Ask questions: 
– Are you paying taxes on your rental? Are you paying the correct taxes? There should be 9.25% TAT (transient accommodations tax) and 4.167% GET (general excise tax) for a total of 13.417% – these numbers are slightly different if it’s a timeshare property). 
– Does the rental listing and your rental agreement have a tax ID listed? Is it valid (check on this website, does the company/owner name correspond with the name on your rental agreement)? 
– What are the County’s property records showing for your rental’s address (sometimes this can be tricky to look up)? Look up the address on Google maps, does it look like a residential neighborhood? Again, there ARE some permitted vacation rentals/b&bs in residential neighborhoods, but they should have a permit they can show you.

– Can I see a copy of your permit? If this is a rental in a residential neighborhood, they will need to have one.

When in doubt, ask.
For the record, all four of our vacation rental condos are legal. We also collect and submit all taxes to the government.
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