Maui, Hawaii

Tag: condo

Great Air Canada deals!

Book by December 29th and get 15% off bookings on flights to and from the US with Air Canada. Use promotion code GIFT2014. I just looked up some spring break flights – $506 Canadian return, all in, from Vancouver to Maui in March. That is a crazy good deal!

Incidentally I have a few March dates available at our condos.

Palms at Wailea #503 March 4-15 (8 night minimum stay)

Sugar Beach #104 March 21-April 1

Maui Kamaole I-103 March 25-31

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Severe flood warnings on Maui – stay out of the ocean please

It is winter and technically rainy season in Hawaii. Though in Kihei we tend to forget about that – last year we had a grand 8 inches of rain for the year. We were up in Kaanapali yesterday evening and on the way home it sure was raining… We aren’t used to this rain in Kihei!

This morning my phone buzzed with a ‘severe threat alert‘. There are flash flood warnings throughout Maui, the alert advises to check the local news.

What is a flash flood warning? It is when it rains heavily enough that water doesn’t absorb into the ground but instead runs off the island into the ocean. Newer developments have gulches that should be able to handle the run-off, but some areas and roads in Kihei will flood – particularly in North and Central Kihei. If you see flooding, please stop and turn around, do not try to walk or drive through it. Remember, it may not be raining at your part of Maui, but if it’s been raining up the mountain from you, you can see run-off.

Most importantly, it is important to STAY OUT OF THE OCEAN during and after storms until the water is no longer murky.

I know this is hard when you’ve come all this way and all you want to do is play in the ocean. As long as the water is murky from the extra run-off and change in currents (caused by the storm), this is also prime shark feeding time. Please, for your safety, stay out of the water.

Wondering what to do instead? Here are a few ideas: check out the condo pool, do some last minute Christmas shopping, scope out where you want to eat Christmas dinner (and make a reservation!!), go see Santa swimming with the sharks at the Maui Ocean Center, do some outlet shopping at the one-year-old Outlet mall in Lahaina, hang low at the condo and nurse that sunburn (remember, we have netflix, a small DVD collection and a few books), check out the movies in Kahului (at Maui Mall and Queen Kaahumanu Mall), watch the waves roll in on the North Shore (near Paia, just don’t go in). Check out a show in Lahaina – Ulalena, Elvis – or Warren and Annabelle’s magic show….

Stay safe!

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What do you do on check-out day?

airport check-ins

Oh check-out day. When planning a vacation, most of us don’t plan for check-out day. What time is check-out? What time does our flight leave on the last day? What are we doing in between? If we don’t plan for it, that last day can be a bit of a downer (and not just because we’re heading back home and to reality).

Most flights back to Canada (and some US mainland flights) are red-eye flights, meaning they leave between 9 and 11pm.

Standard condo check-out time is at 11am, and most days our cleaning and sometimes maintenance staff is scheduled to arrive at 11am to prepare the condo for the next guest.

So what do you do about that ‘magical’ 10-12 hour window where you are homeless with no place to put your luggage? Maybe you are lucky enough to have a rental car with a large trunk, then your luggage is at least not visible to the casual observer (doubtful if you have a convertible and definitely not if you have a jeep). Generally it is not a good idea to keep any valuables in your car though. It just seems to be asking for trouble.

Is there a place you can store your luggage? Not really. I have read on Tripadvisor forums about people wanting to rent a locker at a self-storage place for the day, but I don’t know if anyone has actually done it or how it worked. You can’t leave it at the condo as there is often another guest checking in that afternoon. The front desk on property does not have storage facilities (nor insurance) to hold onto guests’ luggage. I am not aware of any luggage storage at Kahului airport (OGG).

You may be able to get late check-out, but this really depends on the condo’s rental schedule, the cleaner’s schedule, the maintenance schedule etc. And as an owner I won’t commit to late check-out until a few days prior to your check-out when I have a better handle on all the scheduling.

The best bet (and this is what we always did prior to moving to Maui) is to rent the condo for an extra night. So if your flight leaves Monday night, book the condo til Tuesday. Yes, I get it, it’s an extra cost. But look at the benefits:

  • you can enjoy your last day and can pack up closer to your flight time
  • no problems storing your luggage (it’s at the condo)
  • no need to wear mainland clothes until it’s actually time to go to the airport
  • you can shower after a day at the beach or of activities, feeling refreshed and non-cranky prior to heading to the airport
  • a quiet place to rest (especially great with little kids)
Can you book that extra night at half price since you’re not staying overnight? Unfortunately no. Our cleaner doesn’t do night cleans, so she won’t be able to clean until the next morning.
What are some trip ideas for those who don’t book an extra night? Well, some guests go for an upcountry drive, up Haleakala (bonus, it’s cooler up there, so those mainland clothes won’t feel so hot). You could spend a few hours at the Maui Ocean Center (bonus, it’s air-conditioned). Even if you’ve checked out, you can still use the condo’s pool (and the public/guest-use bathrooms) for the rest of the day. 
What do you do on your last day? I’d love to hear!

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happy FOUR year anniversary to us!

Wednesday marks four years since we closed escrow on both our Sugar Beach #104 and Kihei Surfside #405 condos. I can’t believe it’s been four years! Within the following four months we also closed on our Maui Kamaole I-103 and Palms at Wailea 503 condos.

As many of you know, we used to be dairy farmers in Chilliwack BC, Canada. Never heard of Chilliwack? It’s an 80,000 person town with a lot of agriculture (dairy, chickens, nursery trees, blueberries etc) along the TransCanada highway, just 5 miles away from the US/Canada border (1 1/2 hour drive east of Vancouver).

our old farm back in Chilliwack!

After doing much paperwork, obtaining green cards and selling our farm, we moved to sunny Kihei where we had discovered Sig was free from his Reynaud’s symptoms. The question became – okay, now that we’re here, now what? You can’t just move to a vacation destination and be on permanent vacation? We needed an income and something to keep us busy!

Sig has for years had a love affair with real estate. His uncle in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada) owns rental apartments and taught Sig the value of owning real estate. For years every time we came to Maui Sig would check out vacation rental open houses, researching, talking and dreaming about buying one. But the timing and the market was not right. As we stayed in vacation rentals, we talked about what we would do differently, the many pros and cons to owning a vacation rental property. What – there are cons? Sure there are – how about this one: we are letting complete strangers stay in our rather expensive condos, hoping that they don’t trash the place! So far so lucky (thank you!!!)

When we moved here, this was our chance to get into the business! We had a few objectives:

  • buy ocean view condos (after all, our website says Maui Oceanview Condos)
  • provide renters with a better product than the competition
  • pay the bills and, better yet, make a modest living off the condos

How did we do with our objectives? All four of our condos have an ocean view, Kihei Surfside is a direct ocean front property (oh my goodness, what a view), while Maui Kamaole and Palms at Wailea present an ocean view from a distance. Our Sugar Beach condo is on an ocean front property with a sliver of an ocean view.

walking the 5 mile beach past our Sugar Beach condo

How about providing renters with a better product? We had noticed that having an absentee landlord often means little maintenance and poor cleaning. Have I ever mentioned my husband is a perfectionist? He has a rigorous maintenance program, in fact he has a spreadsheet of all the tasks that need doing monthly/quarterly/semi-annually and follows through with them. We also listen to guest and cleaner comments and personally check the condos, fixing and replacing items as soon as we notice.

Our cleaner Cindy is fantastic. She is incredibly detail-oriented and it shows! Our reviews and guest book entries have a recurring theme: “the condo was so clean!” Why would guests comment on cleanliness? Is this not something that is expected? Well, yes, I would expect a vacation rental condo to be thoroughly cleaned, but sadly that is often not the case. We are very thankful for Cindy and her crew.

I love the beautiful Mediterranean look of Palms at Wailea

How about paying those bills? Well, so far the condos are paying for themselves and yes, providing us with a modest living.

What has been the biggest surprise? For me it has been how much I am enjoying this job. In fact, I love my job. I get to deal with happy people! Think of it – people are planning their vacation! Typically this is an exciting and fun-filled time for them. They are happy when they come, and almost always leave happy. Yes, we’ve had a few cases where things went wrong – such as when the A/C failed or the freezer failed. Thankfully our guests were gracious as we scrambled to fix things. Being on-island landlords has given us the opportunity to jump into action rather than relying on property managers to do the work for us. As I always tell our guests: “we are just a 5-10 minute drive away from the condo. Let us know if there’s a problem and we will deal with it!”

Would we do it again? What would you say if I told you Sig is eyeing another property? Well, it’s somewhere in the future, but for now, it would appear we are in this for the long haul!

gorgeous Keawakapu beach – within walking distance
of our Kihei Surfside, Palms at Wailea and Maui Kamaole condos

To all our wonderful guests and repeat guests who have stayed in our condos the first four years – a big thank you to you! Thank you for booking our condos, trusting us with your vacations, and taking such good care of our condos. As a side note – in the first four years we have not once had to withhold the refundable security deposit, refunding it within a week or two of every guest’s check-out. A big mahalo for that!

Here’s to a fantastic fifth year of vacation renting!

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Kihei Surfside updates

Do you enjoy shopping? I love looking through magazines and admiring home decorating. I have been looking for a ‘new look’ for our Kihei Surfside 405 bedroom for a while now. Guess what – I found some great deals on Labor Day weekend…. here is the updated Kihei Surfside #405 bedroom. This is just a cell-phone picture (not professional).

If you are like me, you may not know what the brown blanket at the base of the bed is. I’ve come across them in hotels and always wondered.

Guess what – it’s not a blanket for you to use, nor is it a ‘foot warmer’. It’s called a bed scarf or bed runner and its specific purpose is to protect the bedding from dirty luggage.

The bedroom at Surfside is a little crowded because of the big cal-king bed (it is so comfortable that I am willing to give up a little extra space). So rather than a luggage rack, we have this bed runner for you to hoist your suitcase onto while you unpack into the dresser at the end of the bed (this protects our white duvet cover from getting marked up). Once you are done, please fold the bed runner and place it in the closet or out of the way.

Unless of course you like a foot warmer!

By the way, if you prefer to live out of the suitcase, the hallway is nice and wide. Some of our guests just leave their suitcases laying along the wall in the hallway. It’s up to you.

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Preparing for winter

What? No no no, let’s not start talking about winter yet. I can’t believe we’re already in September. One of the moms at school told me yesterday, ‘only 16 Mondays left til Christmas’. Oh stop it already! Let’s enjoy the seasons while they last, right?

My husband Sig sent me a link from Hoards Dairyman yesterday. Yes, we are former Canadian dairy farmers, and yes, my dear hubby still reads a variety of farm magazines with a passion. You will at any given time find cow, animal nutrition, cropping and yes, manure magazines on our living room table. By the way, if you are on island and would like some ‘light reading’, let us know – I will happily recycle some of the read issues your way.

The article he sent me yesterday was on the 2015 Old Farms Almanac weather forecast for the US. Apparently the forecast for most of the US mainland (with exception of the West Coast) is for ‘another frigid winter.’

Farmer’s Almanac 2015, taken from Hoards Dairyman website

By the way – do you notice any states missing? Yup – Hawaii and Alaska. Alaska – well, we expect it will be cold – I mean, it is Alaska, right? And Hawaii? The climate is so temperate and hardly changes between seasons, so I expect it will be a lot more of the ‘same old same old’ – namely, temps in the low to mid 80s, dropping to around 70 at night. Sigh. I look forward to ‘cooling down’.

Just what you wanted to hear? Welllll….. now would be a great time to book that mid-winter Maui trip to warm up a little. The winter months, particularly Christmas through mid April, are high season months on Maui. Condos are filling up fast, so especially if you aren’t flexible with your dates, it’s a good time to start looking and nail down a condo soon.

On a budget but looking to escape winter? Have a look at the first two weeks of December! Traditionally this is a very slow time of year, and therefore you are looking at LOW SEASON prices. Plus, you are still escaping cold weather back home. So finish your Christmas shopping up early (or do it on Maui) and enjoy a restful Maui break! By the way, yes, we still have December ‘low season’ availability at our Palms at Wailea condo.

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Hooray our Sugar Beach condo is back in business!

We are so excited! After some work these past few months our Sugar Beach condo is ready for our next guests! Besides some unglamorous landlord stuff, we have also added a beautiful new cal king bed frame and as an added bonus, a brand new Serta Perfect Sleeper Highfield Plush mattress! It’s not super-plush, but more a middle-of-the-road firmness. I must admit, I really enjoyed test-sleeping it in the mattress store!

We hope you enjoy your stay!

sweet dreams!
a picture of the mattress before encasing it in the mattress protector
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September deals

gorgeous plumeria blooms

Now that I’ve flown with Alaska Air  (good experience), they figure they need to send me all sorts of specials emails. This morning’s is advertising as low as $398 return flights from San Jose to Kahului in September (Portland prices just a little more for similar dates). That price is of course only for certain dates. But I thought hey – maybe someone is planning a Maui trip!

September is traditionally a slow month on Maui as people enjoy the last days of summer, the beginning of the school year etc back home. From a traveler’s perspective, this is the perfect time of year to check out Maui! Few lineups, no crowds, dinners without reservations, deals on flights and condos… I also still have some availability at our Sugar Beach, Maui Kamaole and Palms at Wailea condos (and sales). Check it out!

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Weather warnings

There is trouble in paradise – did you know it’s hurricane season? Usually hurricane season (June-Nov) is a non-event in Hawaii. We’ve lived here four years now and in four years have had one tropical depression (Flossie 2013) come through in July 2013. We had some wind, over an inch in rain and some thunder storms, but other than that, it was pretty tame, particularly compared to what you see on the news about hurricanes in the Atlantic. We carry hurricane insurance for our home insurance policy, and honestly, our neighbors mock us for it. It’s expensive and has a huge deductible, but I feel better having it.

Today we are watching two storms approach the Hawaiian Islands. Iselle was a category 4 hurricane as of yesterday but has now been downgraded to a category 3 hurricane. It’s still a very powerful storm. As of right now, it’s still on track to hit Maui early Friday morning. Forecasters are predicting that as it crosses cooler waters before getting to Hawaii, it will fizzle into a tropical storm (we’re hoping).

photo from the National Hurricane Center 8/5/14 at 6am HST

Closely behind follows tropical storm Julio. The jury is still out on what Julio will do, though it could hit as soon as Sunday.

photo from the National Hurrican Center 8/5/14 at 6am HST

Here is the official hurricane ranking system from the Central Pacific Hurricane Center:

Saffir-Simpson Scale

  • Tropical Storm – winds 39-73 mph (34-63 kt)
  • Category 1 – winds 74-95 mph (64-82 kt)
  • Category 2 – winds 96-110 mph (83-95 kt)
  • Category 3 – winds 111-129 mph (96-112 kt)
  • Category 4 – winds 130-156 mph (113-136 kt)
  • Category 5 – winds 157 mph and up (137+ kt)

What will a tropical storm mean to Hawaii? Heavy rain (and flash flooding that comes with it – stay clear of low lying flood-prone areas, don’t cross ‘rivers’ on the road), winds (please move patio furniture inside, stay clear of windows etc), thunder storms. Prepare for the possibility of the power being out for a few days (happens with most wind storms in Hawaii), possibly not having drinkable water. Fill up the bathtub for water to use for washing, have water for drinking, food, first aid kit, sanitation items, batteries etc. Here is a list of what to have in a hurricane preparedness kit. And watch the news. Here on Maui, watch HawaiiNewsNow. If on facebook, follow ‘MauiWatch’ for current up-to-date Maui news.

DO NOT GO INTO THE OCEAN. Guess what heavy rain and wind do to the ocean? It whips things around, changes currents and makes the ocean an unsafe place to be. Please do not go into the ocean. When the remnants of the last tropical storm passed through two weeks ago, a snorkel boat chose to go out anyway. Sadly one snorkeler drowned and a crew member was critically injured trying to save him. It is important for you to make the assessment for yourself. Please use common sense.

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What is a Cal King bed?

I’m mattress shopping today. Our Sugar Beach condo is getting a new mattress! All four of our condos have California (Cal) king beds, and quite frankly, I didn’t know what that meant specifically. I assumed a Cal king bed was larger than a regular king bed, and I did know not to buy regular king sheets for my Cal king beds.

The super comfy BeautyRest Cal King at our Palms at Wailea condo

Today I learned a little trivia.

A regular (‘Eastern’) king bed is 16 inches wider than a queen bed. It is the same length as a queen bed (dimensions 76×80 inches). A Cal King bed is only 12 inches wider than a queen bed, but instead it is 4 inches longer than a queen bed (dimensions 72×84 inches). I personally like the longer mattress, as my feet hang off the end of a regular king/queen mattress (but not with a Cal king). Here is a handy chart with all North American mattress sizes.

we get many compliments on our comfy Cal king bed at our Kihei Surfside condo

My friendly sales man had more trivia for me (I’m not sure about the accuracy, but it’s a good story). In the ’70s water beds were quite popular. However, they weren’t popular with landlords who started forbidding water beds (I imagine because of water leaks). So, according to my sales man, the water bed manufacturers got together with the mattress manufacturers and asked if they would consider making a mattress to fit in a water bed frame. The mattress companies did, and the end result was a new mattress size with the Cal king dimensions, and water bed owners didn’t have to replace their bed frames but could just buy the new mattress. Again, as per my sales man, they sold a lot of these Cal king mattresses in California, and so that’s how the name was born.

So now you know!

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