We originally booked the condos way back in September of last year. Our initial plan was to stay five nights on each island. Somewhere along the way, we decided to add an extra night in Maui, so it turned out that we were in Maui for six nights (June 23-June 29).
When I started researching a possible honeymoon to Hawaii, I was kind of appalled at what some of the hotels cost. Sure, they're beautiful, they have gorgeous landscaping and state-of-the-art luxury pools, etc. For us, however, we wanted to have a nice place to come home to at night--but wanted to feel like we had the freedom to go out and explore. If we wanted to lounge around a pool and drink frozen cocktails all day, we wouldn't have traveled all the way to Hawaii. We could have done that for much cheaper in the Caribbean. What's the point of paying for a bunch of extra amenities if you don't use them?
Last June, we went on vacation with a bunch of our friends in Outer Banks, NC. It was during the planning for that trip that I was introduced to the concept of "vacation rentals by owner." We ended up renting a huge, gorgeous, perfect beach house for our large group, and so with Hawaii, I thought--I need to look into this.
And so it came to be that I found Mahana 804. I don't even really remember how I found it, exactly. I started with VRBO.com and went from there. I probably looked at photos and descriptions of at least a couple hundred condos. But with Mahana 804, the price was right--and so were the pictures. The perfect combination.
I love being up high with a view. Whenever we do stay in hotels, I always like to be on the higher floors. Mahana 804 is a one-bedroom suite on the 8th floor. Take a look at their website for all of the amenities and features of the place, because I'll only touch on them here. I'll start posting pictures, and provide info in between.
First, let's talk about the building itself.
We were really pleased with the overall appearance and condition of The Mahana. The lobby is clean, nicely decorated, and looks just like a nice hotel. Upon arrival, we checked in at the desk, received two key cards, got a parking pass, etc. Then we hit the elevators (which were really fast throughout our entire trip--nothing more frustrating than waiting forever for an elevator).
In back, they have a nice pool area with a hot tub. During the day, there is a small snack and beverage bar open there, but as far as we could tell, they do not serve alcohol. In the picture below, it was about 6:00 a.m. (or even earlier--we were messed up with the time difference), so it is still quite shady back there. But I can tell you from walking past it numerous times that they do get really nice sun back there. We never did relax by the pool, or even go in. Too many things to do, too many sights to see! :)
Beyond the pool area, there is a long and thin area of grass with some lawn lounge chairs. There is not much of a beach at The Mahana, so if you're looking to stumble out of your room into the sand to lounge every morning... this is probably not the place for you. We actually enjoyed having the water as close as possible (not 100+ ft. of sand in between us and the view of the ocean). Also, we didn't have to deal with crowds of people hanging out on "our" beach. It was peaceful and quiet.
There is free WiFi access throughout the building. We had trouble with it. It was very spotty--we could only pick it up in certain areas of the condo (an info sheet we had said that it was best picked up on the lanai--which is definitely nice, but come on... it'd be nice to have some flexibility). It was also kind of slow and unreliable. Luckily, we were trying not to spend too much time on the internet. Mainly, we just wanted it to keep up with our numerous blog posts to chronicle our time in Maui. :)
We rented a car, so we also had to deal with parking... which was a non-issue. Plenty of parking available. Never had to fight for a spot (in fact, we often got one of the spots closest to the building).
There was some contruction going on next door, which was sort of unsightly when we were driving up, but it was never a problem. We never heard any noise as a result.
The location of The Mahana was pretty convenient for us. We were only two minutes off of the main highway which can pretty much get you anywhere on the island. But the resort itself is nestled back away from the road, so it was completely quiet and private. There was a grocery store (Star Markets) in a plaza right across the road from us, but we chose to shop at Safeway down in Lahaina (short drive). Lahaina was about a 10-15 minute drive, depending on traffic. With the convertible, we weren't complaining! :)
Oh, and the Mahana employees? All super friendly. In passing, everyone would say, "Aloha!" They were also helpful with requests for information, or with questions we had. Even the grounds crew... on the first day, we were having trouble with the convertible top to our rental car (couldn't get it down all the way--it would only go so far and then stop). One of the guys working outside with a leaf blower came over and spent a few minutes with us to try to figure it out. And thanks to him, we did.
One thing is that we did end up with a mysterious $3.70 charge on our credit card from The Mahana when we got home. Since it's only $3.70, I wasn't going to call and put up a stink about it--only thing I can think of is that I made two local calls to confirm our reservations with the zipline place and the Old Lahaina Luau. It must have been that... kind of crappy that we had to pay for local calls! I'm sure the information was probably laid out somewhere, but I missed it. If I had known, I certainly would have used my cell phone! Oh well.
OK, now on to our specific condo, 804.
What did we love? It was SO CLEAN. Loved the VIEW and the kitchen. Loved the huge doors from both the bedroom and the living room that went out onto the lanai. We slept with the bedroom sliding glass door open every night so we could sleep with the sound of the crashing waves in the background. The HUGE bed (huge for us anyway, we're used to sleeping in a full) was extremely comfortable.
The shower was awesome--great water pressure (which I was impressed with, given that it's in a big building and on the 8th floor), and good temperature control (which is important!). We also really liked having laundry machines right in the condo. We left Maui without a single article of dirty clothing, which was nice!
Nice, big refrigerator. We stocked up with drinks--beer, bottled water, soda, wine.
One thing to note is that there isn't daily maid service (we knew ahead of time and were OK with it), so be prepared to clean up after yourselves. Even though we were SO careful, toward the end of our stay, we could start to feel the stray bits of sand on the floors. There IS a vacuum in one of the closets--it just never got bad enough for us to feel like we had to use it.
Possible improvements or extras we wish they had? All really minor things.
A small cooler would have been nice. We didn't necessarily miss it at the time, but after Maui, we went on to Kauai, and the condo there had one. We used it every day, packing sandwiches and drinks. We didn't have that in Maui, and since we're not fans of eating out for every meal, we generally tried to scrape by during the day on things we could carry with us--such as almonds.
Pump hand soap for the bathroom. The bar soap provided (like in hotels) got disgusting after the first night. We picked up a bottle of pump soap from Safeway and then left it there... hopefully the cleaning service left it for the people to come after us, because it was definitely nice to have.
OK, and this is REALLY nitpicky, but would have been helpful--just a print-out index of the television channels, i.e. NBC = Channel 3 or whatever. When we were relaxing at night, sometimes we'd be looking for something specific and it was difficult to find.
I think that about sums it up! It was definitely a nice place to spend our honeymoon. It felt like "home" while we were there, and we looked forward to spending our evenings there. We'd get back from a day out, and enjoyed our hour or so to get ready and sit around a little bit before going out to dinner. We'd enjoy a beer or a glass of wine. We'd do the same once we got home from dinner--turn on the TV, pour the drinks, and just RELAX. Very nice.
I dealt with the owner, Ken Green, almost completely by e-mail. Everything went smoothly. We put our deposit down back in the fall, then had to pay the balance about 60 days before our trip. It was nice going into it knowing that it was all completely paid off already.
We did have to call him at one point during our stay--the cleaning service called on Friday and asked what time we would be checking out on Saturday. Only problem was that we were not checking out on Saturday, we were checking out on Sunday. We had added the extra night to our reservation back in December, and somehow lines got crossed a little bit and the cleaning service still thought we were leaving Saturday. No big deal. Ken called me right back and it was fixed.
As you can see from the photos, it's an absolutely beautiful condo that has obviously had a lot of work put into it. At the beginning of our search, it was important to us to find something that felt "luxury," and we wanted to know EXACTLY what condo we were getting. If you rent through a condo resort, you could end up with any unit--one that has been recently updated with $1 million renovations, or one that hasn't been touched since 1979. And who wants to take that kind of risk with their honeymoon? Or any vacation, really? For us, renting through the owner was the way to go.
We highly recommend Mahana 804 and would absolutely stay there again. If you're in the market for a vacation in Maui, definitely check it out. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
A review of our Kauai condo will be coming soon. :)