10 Things To Check Before Booking A Vacation Rental Condo On Maui
Kihei has a seaside town feel (as opposed to Kaanapali's resort/hotel type feel), more affordable prices (e.g. than Wailea), and it is also the sunniest and driest part of the island. Not to mention it is closer than all the others to the main island activities (Haleakala, Road To Hana, Molokini to name a few).
When you look at the quality of the beaches and ocean in Kihei, you should prefer condos that are behind one of the three Kamaole beaches, in South Kihei. If you stay anywhere else in Kihei, you'll end up wanting to go to those 3 beaches anyway, and that will increase your daily "commute".
#2 Floor level
An early choice you should make is whether you are willing to stay on a ground floor. Staying in an upper floor condo typically offers increased privacy, security, and quietness. More importantly, Maui being a tropical island does have bugs, and ground floor units naturally suffer the most. Staying at a higher floor also gives you a chance of having better views, and if you are lucky you may even find one with an Ocean View from inside the condo!
If a condo you are evaluating is showing less than a dozen photos or if there are photos missing for key areas of the condo then the owner may be hiding something. You should be able to see every room of the condo in photos before making a decision (including the floor-plan), to get a real feel of the place you'll be calling home during your vacation.
#4 Modern kitchen
One reason you choose a condo instead of a hotel is to have a kitchen, because dining outside all the time in Maui is not cheap. You can also prepare snacks to take with you to the beach, on hikes, and on other activities - without having to interrupt those activities to find a place to eat. Look for a new, fully-equipped kitchen, quiet dishwasher, gas range, and in particular make sure the fridge has an ice maker and cold water dispenser, to help save money and protect the environment.
#5 In-unit laundry
Another reason people choose vacation rental condos, in particular on longer stays, is for the ability to pack less and wash (and dry) their clothes in the condo. Don't settle for vacation rentals without a washer & dryer in the unit itself, or which charge you extra for laundry...
#6 King-size bed
If you have it at home then you'll definitely miss it on vacation, and if you don't have it at home then this is your chance to see what you are missing. Once you sleep in a king size bed, it is hard to sleep on anything smaller without feeling cramped. In a hot climate, and after a long day at the beach, you'll find an even deeper appreciation for king size beds. Definitely a differentiator when trying to choose between multiple condos.
#7 Electronic access, no keys
After your long flight to Maui, you shouldn't need to meet someone to collect keys, or worse have to arrange flights around a restrictive check-in schedule. Instead, you arrive any time you want, drive straight to your condo, enter your unique code, and gain access. Similarly when you leave you drive straight to the airport at the last minute, without having to return keys somewhere. Even during your vacation, you don't want to carry keys around and risk losing them and paying replacement fees.
#8 Guest reviews
Never book a condo without reading the guest reviews. If a property is new on the market, it will not have guest reviews so you may want to give them a chance, but you shouldn't have to pay market price for that risk. Also don't just read the star rating, but read the actual past guest comments to see if what they liked (or didn’t like) matches your taste.
#9 Hidden fees
When you receive your quote, ask if it already includes the following: cleaning fee (should be fixed per stay), Hawaiian GET and TAT taxes (on base rental rate), and resort fee (some resorts charge this to the guest upon arrival!). Some owners also charge for the following: Wi-Fi fee, parking fee, A/C fee, fee if paying by credit card, laundry fee, tennis court fee, pool fee. Check that the final quote is indeed final, and that you will not have to pay for anything on-island.
Also some owners will require that you buy from them a non-refundable damage protection insurance. You should instead purchase your own travel insurance, and opt for the owner to keep a refundable damage deposit or keep your credit card on file for damages.
#10 Reliable owners
While staying in the condo, how do you know how fast the owners can respond to any questions you may have, or any issues you may face? You can test that now, by checking how fast they responded to your inquiry. Send them additional questions at various times of the day, and check their response rate. Find their property listings on the major sites (e.g. Vrbo, Airbnb) and see what their response rate shows as (but don't request to book through those sites, or you'll be paying additional fees).
Search for the owner's name on LinkedIn and Facebook to determine if they are who they appear to be. If you are renting from an agent instead of the actual owner, you can guarantee you are paying more than what you would if you booked direct with the owner.