There are all sorts of ways to measure a good buy, but in my mind the most important one is this: after the thrill of the chase, and the settling in, how much do you love the property?
Many of my clients have purchased vacation rental condos as stepping stones to spending progressively longer periods of time on Maui. That makes picking the right property—and just as important, the right neighborhood—particularly important. The more time you spend on Maui, at your property, the more important the lifestyle becomes. Location is the bedrock of lifestyle.
Here are four very diverse West Side condo properties (with sample listings) that have brought a particular level of joy to owners with very different priorities. Much of that joy is rooted in the lifestyle projected by the individual property and neighborhood.
Each is a popular vacation rental destination, with high occupancy rates relative to their peer properties.
South to North:
Puamana: laid back oceanfront lifestyle in West Maui
30 acres, 230 units
12 listed: 7 one-bedrooms ($495K-$1.345M), 4 two-bedrooms ($825K-$2.595M), 1 3-bedroom ($895K)
Most recent sales: 2 since July ’09, $540K and $625K
Puamana Just before the highway takes you into to Lahaina town, Puamana Park showcases one of west Maui’s clean surf breaks before the main arteries lead you to bustling Front Street. Adjacent to that ocean park, nestled ocean front on 30 acres, Puamana is largely invisible passers-by, and that’s one of the things residents and visitors like about this gated community.
There is a sense of community at Puamana, which features a mix of full-time and part-time owner occupants. Although it does allow short term rentals, Puamana is not exactly a resort—it’s more of a retreat, a slice of old low rise beach front Hawaii. The property enjoys wonderfully seasoned tropical growth throughout the grounds, and there’s a shady, peaceful ambiance. Sixty town home-styled, two-story buildings comprise the 230 units, some of which are less than 100 feet from the ocean. A beautiful seasonal beach fronts the property, a half-mile stretch of sand that is oft times deserted.
The clubhouse, built in 1923, speaks of another era: it was the residence for the sugar plantation manager, and some of the original remnants remain. There is a quaint lending library, a piano, and guest party area alongside one of the property’s three pools (one dedicated to youngsters). Amenities also include tennis courts and a playground.
Many of the units have undergone dramatic renovation as the property has increased. Some are single level, some are split. Square footage in the 1-bedroom units ranges from 650 to 1,050, 1,000-1,400 for the 2-bedrooms, 1,450-2,500 sq. ft. for 3’s, and 2,000-2,800 for 4’s. Currently, the largest unit listed is a 1,600 square foot 3-bedroom (MLS# 332996), listed at $895K. Original list was $1.125K.
Lahaina Roads: more than meets the eye from Front Street
The Lahaina Roads
¾ acre, 41 units
1 listed (1-bedroom, $549,000)
Most recent sales: 12/09, 1-bedroom REO, $350,000
The Lahaina Roads This concrete property looks down right gloomy viewed from Front Street, and I’ve guided more than one very skeptical client up from the dank parking garage to an oceanfront wonderland unimaginable from the outside. All of this 3-story property’s 41 units enjoy spectacular ocean views, as well as a look at the goings-on alongside the Lahaina Harbor.
There’s precious little grounds, but the most are made of them, with an ocean front pool and lawn space to watch life on the ocean go by—or breach and tail-slap during whale season.
One-bedrooms are smallish, at 641 square feet; the six 2-bedrooms span 750 sq. ft., while three prime penthouse 2-bedrooms have 1297. All have one bath. The most recent sale was an REO at $350,000
“The Roads” is walking distance on the famed boardwalk to the island’s best art galleries, shopping, and night life. Unlike some Lahaina properties, however, guests are completely removed from the craziness that can envelop Front Street. Indeed, when you’re on the grounds facing the ocean, the Lahaina hustle disappears.
The Valley Isle
The Valley Isle
Studio, 1 bed/2 bath
3 acres, 120 units
6 listed: 1 Studio ($425K), four 1-bedrooms ($499-$675K), one 2-bedroom ($759K)
Most recent sales:
The Valley Isle I have an affinity for understated condominium properties with amazing locations, and often find great value in them. One of my favorites is the Valley Isle Resort, a 12-story resort that sits on the sand at Kahana Beach, a long stretch of soft, golden sand. The water is clear and warm and the swimming amazing here.
Breakdown: 24 Studio units (480 square feet), 72 one-bedrooms (768 sq. ft.), and 24 2/2 units (1,040 sq. ft.).
Move this resort to South Kihei, with a similar stretch of beach, and a 1-bedroom would bring from $800K to $1M. The last sale at the Valley Isle closed in January at $650,000. That strikes me as value.
With a little love, this 2-bedroom (MLS# 340458) listed at $675K, could be magnificent.
I’ve heard detractors point to the Valley Isle’s $900 maintenance fee, but they sometimes forget to mention that electricity and all utilities, and Central AC are inclusive.
1/3 acre, 34 units
1 listed ($745K)
Most recent sales: August ’09, $315,000 (short sale)
Napili Bay When a client is interested in vacation rental property in West Maui, the first thing I like to do is drive the shoreline from Lahaina to Kapalua, a half-hour excursion that gives great perspective of several completely different condo neighborhoods. At the northern end the communities of Kapalua and Napili adjoin, but could not be more different.
Kapalua and Napili are enchanting to almost all who visit, but most people come to the same conclusion in the end: too secluded.
Hillside magnificence with dramatic views from jagged cliffs, interwoven around a world class golf venue defines the regal signature of Kapalua. Down the mountainside, you find a different strain of magnificence, less formal, more old Hawaii, in pristine Napili Bay.
Napili Bay is a Maui postcard come to life, with a stunning, crescent beach and amazing protected swimming bay that is one of the island’s best. It is impossible not to feel worlds away in Napili Bay, with its calm warm water, fabulous swimming and snorkeling, and lush greenery.
There are a handful of small resorts right on the bay, and listings are few and far between. The low-key Napili Bay is one of them, with a single listing (MLS# 331037) at $745K. It’s been on market 656 days, originally at $895K. Last closing was August ’09, a short sale at $315,000.
In the context of a small island, the feeling of seclusion here is understandable— most resorts in Kaanapali and Lahaina offer more conveniences within walking distance. Napili also has a deserved reputation for rain far more often than in the sun-drenched Kaanapali and Lahaina areas to the south.
But for those of us who find appeal in relative seclusion and relief from the Maui heat, Napili is absolutely magical. Compared to some of the world’s other incredible beach locations, the long term value here is self evident. In the end, itâ€™s about loving the lifestyle.
Kevin Spaise, R(S) is one of Hawaii Life’s property experts, and the author/publisher of The Maui Condo Book (www.TheMauiCondoBook.com), the reference source used by leading Maui real estate professionals. Contact him at (808) 344-0624, or at email@example.com, for his perspective on any Maui condominium property or listing.