We just had the staycation from hell here on Maui (the vacation that wasn’t). So even though we asked all the right questions before staying in this condo, we still got burned, so I thought I would share the questions always to ask before renting a place here.
Realize that the west side of Maui was first settled in 1969, with a few resorts. Condos then sprung up along the shoreline and across the road from the ocean, and those units are now 30 to 40 years old.
Condos that are part of a chain HOTEL property are required by their owners to upgrade to a certain grade, such as A, A+, etc. Not so with an individual condo owner in a little complex, who posts a rental on the web, complete with photos, and it looks just too good to be true. Perhaps it is.
1) “How old is this unit? When was it last updated? Is there a dishwasher?”
2) “Is the subfloor between floors wood, or concrete?” You want concrete. I once rented an oceanfront condo in Honokowai with wood subfloors and the people above me scraped counter stools in and out at 3 AM for a week. Who knows what they were doing up there!
3) “Is it air-conditioned?” Most older units are not. (“But we have the sea-breeze!” they say gleefully). Realize this: red dirt blows all the time on this island. If the only means of cooling a unit is open windows, it is most likely full of red dirt, which is hard on allergies. Ask also: “Is it central air, or a room air-conditioner? Located where?” I once stayed in an old Kihei condo while attending the Maui Writer’s Conference, and I’ve never been so hot my life. The window unit was in the living room and the cool air never got close to the back bedroom.
4) “Is it carpeted?” Many places have tile floors. That’s a good thing, because all that red dirt and dust and sand is otherwise trapped in the carpet.
5) ” Is there shade on the property for the pool/lounge chairs?” My favorite property on Maui, the Aston Kaanapali Villas, (http://www.astonmauikaanapalivillas.com) is beloved by guests who return every year because of it’s wide expanse of lawn with lounge chairs under glorious old shade trees….absolutely perfect for stretching out with a summer read.
6)” Is there road noise?” This is obviously subjective, because I asked the woman before we rented the condo, and she said no. I didn’t sleep a wink. We checked in one day and checked right out the next. (After hauling a week’s worth of food, drinks and clothes up a flight of stairs. The idea of a condo is to be able to eat in it. So then we had to haul it all back out.) And the road noise was just one of many issues, like no hot water!
7) Which leads to, “What is your cancellation policy?”
When you go online and see these cheap units in Kihei, Honokowai, Mahinahina, Kahana and Napili, it’s tempting to whip out the credit card and book. Realize how old they might be, that many have never been upgraded or have been done cheaply or shoddily.
So don’t forget: ASK QUESTIONS.
And remember, the closer your unit is to oceanfront, the quieter it is more likely to be (and more expensive).
Now, if you rent a house, room, or ohana someplace like Paia, Kihei, or Upcountry, I’m afraid you’re on your own. Here’s a hint though: your first question should be “Are there roosters in this neighborhood?”
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