Last month I wrote about tips for visiting Hawaii and focused on Maui and for my second installment (there will be one more) I'm giving you tip #2 for a sure-fire great Hawaiian vacation no matter what island you ultimately chose.
Come to think of it, it's a good tip for any island adventure you may be planning--not just Hawaii.
Stay in a condo not a hotel. And if cost is an issue be sure to find one that's not on the beach.
I know there are plenty who will disagree with me but there are a couple of reasons why I will chant "Stay in a condo! Stay in a condo!" whenever friends are looking for relaxation--especially if they're on a budget.
1. Condos are cheaper.
Of course there are exceptions but generally speaking you can get some sweet deals (particulalry if you have children) because there are so many places renting condos out to tourists but those units tend to be less in demand. There are two great places we've stayed the last few times we've gone which run about $130/night for a 2-bath, three bedroom unit with a kitchen and laundry for all six of us which is cheaper than any hotel we could get on the mainland or on the island.
Keep in mind you can find run down condos aplenty but most units are rented through a management company and with a little online research (thank goodness for the internet) you can verify that you're getting a decent place to stay. Do a bit of homework and it'll pay off.
2. Condos are more relaxing.
If you're going to Hawaii to relax (and that is why I love it so much, you can completely escape all the scheduling and running around you find in life at home) then you'll be more comfortable in a condo because it's less stuffy and formal.
You can come and go as you please without having to walk past hallways of doors, empty room service trays cluttering the floor or wait for elevators any time you want to go anywhere. You can have a bit of privacy without neighbors making lots of noise and you have your own living area and kitchen plus commons areas so you can spread out rather than squishing into the meager two-room style hotel.
Depending on the particular unit you chose you might also have more access to the pool than you would at a hotel just because there are fewer people there to use it.
3. Condos are better for children.
If you are traveling with children, especially small children, there is nothing I like less than mealtime. Finding a restaurant, driving to the restaurant, suffering the chaos of ordering food then keeping the kids quiet while they starve and see everyone else with food while their plates are empty--all of it is an hour of torture during a time that's supposed to be building memories and recharging my batteries.
Then, on top of everything you get to watch your children's college funds slip away once the bill comes. Have you ever gone to a fancy restaurant and seen a table where parents have brought their children and you mentally calculate how much they must be spending for the privilege of junior turning up his nose at grilled mahi mahi with reduced white truffle sauce?
If you're in a condo you can get up when you want without having to worry about missing the breakfast hour. You can let the kids get their own bowls of Captain Crunch out of the cupboard (which is all they want anyway) while you wake up leisurely to dine "al fresco" on the fresh mango and papaya you picked up at the local market the day before.
You can throw together a bunch of chicken sandwiches to take to the beach without worrying about how to time your activities around meals and then when it's dinner you can enjoy it in your bathing suit and kick back with mac and cheese in front of the television, order take-out, barbeque some steaks in the commons area or be really wild and go back to finish off the fresh fruit from breakfast. All without a tip, tax, dress code or bill.
When I was a kid we often went to Maui over Thanksgiving so as to time it with school being out and for years my memories of Thanksgiving were all about eating barbequed steaks together while our wet hair was up in towels as we sat around in our bathing suits. It was bliss for a kid I assure you. Those are the things that family memories are made of--at least the good kind of memories, not the kind that involve waiters in white shirts and food one can't recognize.
And finally, you did hear me mention that condos that aren't located on the beach are much less expensive? While it's nice to be able to walk out your door and hit the sand you can hear the waves lapping on the shore from pretty much any point on Maui so paying for that extra convenience of proximity isn't for me.
Ka'anapali is more exclusive and expensive with the fancy hotels, golf courses and shopping, Wailea even more so but in a nicer location on the island and with better weather. We tend to stay in Kihei next door to Wailea where it's not as expensive, the condos are reasonable, you aren't by the water but it's a quick jaunt to the beach, and there are places to stock up on groceries right along the main street. Then at night we'll leave the kids to watch a movie at the condo while Andrew and I go walking along the beach to gawk at the fancy hotels and the luaus going on every night.
And as a final proof of what I'm talking about . . . our last two family vacations were to Maui and Florida respectively. We went to Florida this last time because we had frequent flyer tickets for all of us and had to use the tickets for someplace in the contiguous U.S. so Florida seemed like a good idea.
However, by the end of the trip once we'd added up the price of those expensive hotels, six of us eating out every meal and theme park admissions (oh my gosh they're outrageous!) it all equalled just as much as the cost of six round trip tickets to Hawaii and 15 nights in a condo, in fact I think it was just slightly more. Go figure.
The lesson is people, that relaxation will always cost you less in the end. And in Hawaii less really is more.
Congratulations to Teresa of Montgomery, Alabama for winning the Bliss Living giveaway for newsletter subscribers. She's won a double silver engraved pendant that is just gorgeous. And also, congratulations to Dana of Fairbanks, Alaska for winning the Smith's Edge giveaway this weekend.
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