Hawaii Travel Blog

It is a Hawaiian tradition to talk, share, and enjoy the company of others. It's called "Talk Story" and we post some of our thoughts here.

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou

By Amanda Hartley
Published: 12/08/21 Topics: Comments: 0

Photo credit: Amanda Hartley

The ancient Hawaiian New Year festival known throughout the island chain marks the celebration of Makahiki. And this white girl wants to be a part of the conversation.

The year is 2005, and I'm on my way out of high school when a book was re-released as a limited edition. My advanced placement (AP) Literature teacher at the time picked it up and brought it into class, waxing poetic about his formative writing years.

The book was like a wild ride into another dark side of Americana. It's to Hawai'i what Fear and Loathing was to Las Vegas: the crazy tales of a journalist's "coverage."

Infamous gonzo-style writer Hunter S. Thompson describes his time on the Big Island in an article commissioned by Running Magazine to report on the Hawaii Marathon in 1980. A few years later, his book, The Curse Of Lono, was released, and only 1000 publications were ever produced.

In the book, Thompson often breaks away into excerpts of The Last Voyage of Captain Cook. And on occasion, details clobbering his ocean catches to death with Samoan war

On Kaua'i, Makahiki celebrations take off at the beginning of October with morning ceremonies at a south-shore heiau. The variance of the season's arrival depends on who you ask. This ancient celebration is a four-month period of truce, harvest, taxes, games, relaxation and mo'olelo (the Hawaiian word for story) amongst the neighboring islands.

In antiquity- women, men, and young children would mark the beginning of the Hawaiian new year when a specific collection of glittering space-gems against the black velvet drape of night. Na hiku o Makali'i (Pleiades) appeared at sunset, and the Kanaka Maoli (commoners) would invoke the bounty and protections the god Lono provided.

Often associated with 'ikua (the noisy month), Lono's visualized as storm-clad clouds, like thunder, the partial rainbow, whirlwinds, and even waterspouts.

Fast forward to the present day, Ka Moloka'i Makahiki festival has been celebrating this time of year en masse since 1981. They "are beginning to see the second and third generation of Moloka'i youths assist with the program," says Maria Holmes, a Hawaiian cultural activist who handles publicity for Ka Moloka'i Makahiki.

Her attitude is that "Education" is a major aim of the Organization. No one else in the state has a cultural program that has worked with so many youths for such a long period of time."

Sure, many families or grandfathered-in-stewards still live and work in the heart of these chartreuse and sage landscapes, passing on those traditions to the next generation. But the historical obligations and recognition of Lono, the akua of the Makahiki season, are not synonymous with how the residents of Hawai'i remember it today.

Generally speaking, Hawaiian customs and folklore live on through the margins of modern hotel resorts, replete with games and festivities for its travelers. Some schools and churches include food drives too. Items are then donated to charity and distributed island-wide throughout the holiday.

However, this season, traditions are getting a new show of appreciation by locals. Hawaii Farm Trails- a statewide concept of agri-tourism as a responsible alternative to conventional tourism, will host a Makahiki event on Kaua'i in mid-January.

Hawaii Farm Trails works closely with the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Hawaii Agritourism Association, USDA, Cultivate Resilience and many more to further perpetuate Hawaiian culture, food from farm to table and boundless mo'olelo.

Although the Kaua'i Festivals and Events webpage has not officially saved the date, the event is slated to begin Saturday, January 15, 2022, at 9 AM in the Lihue area of Kaua'i. It will feature ancient Hawaiian games, cultural demonstrations, displays and crafts by community groups, and ono street food.

Living in Hawaii comes with education and recognition of indebtedness. It's a privilege to live on the shores of this sea-cradled state. Where you can fancy-free night-time sparklers.

The fascinating history of this island chain consumes me every day. It's my hope that this love letter reflects my gratitude for cultural diversity in itself and expresses genuine tributes of thanks to the Hawaiian people for cultivating my curiosity.

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou

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Author: Amanda Hartley
Blog #: 0851 – 12/08/21

Pele Awakens

By Joe Giglio
Published: 11/25/21 Topics: Comments: 0

It is no secret that the Kilauea crater on Hawai’i Island has reawakened with a furious and magnificent splendor, ending Pele’s relative hiatus since the volcano’s last eruption event in 2018.

Kilauea is the only active volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, and a majority of its eruptions occur at its Halema’uma’u crater. Kilauea is well known for its angry spurts exploding lava plumes and fountains more than 30,000 feet into the air. The Kilauea crater is perched precariously on the southeastern most shore of the Big Island, cascading magma and rock debris into the sea below.

Eruptions on Big Island are often felt throughout the islands, accompanied by earthquakes and a heavy volcanic fog cover that distributes across the archipelago. The Halema’uma’u crater is considered by Hawaiians to be the sacred home and body of Pele the goddess of fire, lightning, wind, and volcanoes.

She is credited with forging the Hawaiian Islands and is referred to as Madame Pele or Tutu Pele. Ancient legend describes Pele as the offspring of Haumea, the deity of fertility and childbirth. She is said to have had many brothers and sisters in deities of water, waves, clouds, wind, rain, and other elements. Legend tells how Pele lit a fire on the islands as she traveled from Tahiti to Hawai’i. Her sister Namaka chased and fought Pele, having battles on many of the islands. Pele was eventually killed, her body destroyed, and her spirit preserved in the crater at Kilauea.

Hawaiian culture describes Pele’s body as the steam and lava erupting from Kilauea, and geologists have connected that spirituality and cultural significance in many aspects of their volcanic classifications. Several volcanic phenomena unique to Kilauea have been named after Pele with geological features like Pele’s hair, Pele’s tears, and Limu o Pele.

Her spirit can take many forms, and many residents claim to have witnessed her walking along the roads in the Volcano National Park, vanishing if a passerby stops to help her. A friend of mine raised in Hilo told me if I ever drove through Volcanoes at night and saw a woman with white hair on the side of the road, I need to pick her up because that is Pele’s spirit. Pele may appear in many forms but is most commonly seen as a mysterious old woman with white hair, a beautiful young woman accompanied by a dog, and dressed in a red muumuu. Her appearance is thought to offer a warning of impending eruptions, and you will succumb to misfortune if you do not stop to help her at night.

Other legends surrounding Pele, Kilauea, and the Hawaiian Islands are Pele’s Curse employing bad luck on anything or anyone who takes objects away from Hawai’i. The curse is often associated with sand, rock, and pumice taken from sacred places, creating bad luck for whoever took it until they return it to Hawai’i. The origin of Pele’s Curse is thought to originate in the mid-20th century as tourist industries created the Hawaiian taboo to fuel the native lore of the volcanoes or discourage taking rocks and minerals from the park. Many natural items are received every year by mail at the Volcanoes’ National Park Service, as tourists seek Pele’s forgiveness for taking earthen materials.

No matter who started the legend of Pele’s Curse, it is a well-established aspect of Hawaiian cultural identity and the lore surrounding the islands. National Parks have since made it illegal to take any rocks, minerals, or materials out of the park, further protecting the valuable resources and sacred region.

Pele is intertwined in Hawaiian culture, and there are many hula dances dedicated to her intense prowess and the sheer power of the volcanoes. Hawaiian art, stories, and language are saturated with Pele’s origins and her journey throughout Hawai’i. She embodies power, beauty, fire, and passion. Her presence indicates rebirth and the growth of new land while also shrouded in destruction.

What does Pele awakening bode for Hawai’i today and into the future? As Pele awakened in late 2021 with a wondrous summit eruption and crater Lava Lake, tourists and national coverage were once again focused on the Big Island. People from all over the world flocked to the steep park slopes of the crater walls to witness the fiery inferno of Pele and her home. With the pandemic nearing an end and restrictions easing, many more tourists are likely to take their chance to see Kilauea as global travel begins to resume. Tourists and travelers should check the United States Geological Survey website for the Kilauea Volcano Updates to ensure their trip will coincide with an active event.

The Halema’uma’u crater is subject to rapid and unannounced changes, and active eruptions are not often sustained for long periods of time.

Increased tourism will lend a helping hand to the damaged local economy after multiple lockdowns the state has faced over 2020 and 2021 but it is too soon to tell how local populations will react to increasing traffic returning toward pre-pandemic levels. Maui already experienced overcrowding as tourism began to open there earlier this year. The new eruption also emits a warning to nearby residents who are all too familiar with the destruction posed by Kilauea and Pele.

The previous eruption event lasted from 2008 to 2018, erupting lava flows over the eastern rift zone into the surrounding Kalpana and Kaimu communities. Lava destroyed property and created new land before continuing into the Puna district toward the end of the eruption. Many of the affected residents in the region had to deal with a uniquely Hawaiian law that states any new land created by the erupting volcano voids any prior ownership claims on the area. Damaged property will remain as the property owner’s but requires reassessment for evaluation.

No matter what is in store for the island’s future, tourists and locals should keep an eye out for Pele because she is awake, and her spirit is alive and thriving in Hawai’i.

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Author: Joe Giglio – Travel Blogger
Blog #: 0839 – 11/25/21

Kaua'i: The Westsider

By Amanda Hartley
Published: 11/22/21 Topics: Comments: 0

Photo credit: Amanda Hartley

Growing up, like most kids, you spend an awful lot of time planning the day you can get out of Dodge. And for some of us, you vow to never look back. You've got your reasons.

Then before you know it, you've planted roots in a place that's so reminiscent of home. It's a place that has the perfect fusion of cowboy country and aloha.

The west side of Kaua'i can be summarized as 'old Hawai'i' with ghost towns hidden by Jurassic Park-looking grasses at every corner.

It is home to a good chunk of the island's 73,000 permanent residents. And let's not forget the island's midnight to morning trumpets-truly voices of angels, the feral chicken.

But which came first? The hurricane or the chicken?

Travelers whose itineraries are jam-packed with excursions to Hanalei on the north shore and shopping from the gray, east side's Coconut Coast to the sunny south shore can finally unwind out west. You wake up every day to warm hues of rust and offset tropical greens against a sea of Windex water.

Situated just northwest of O'ahu- the oldest island in the Hawaiian chain, Kaua'i has been a destination for eco-travel a millennium before that became a popular buzzword. It has a heritage that's steeped in both myth and legend. Some even insist that it's in fact, its own kingdom. There are stories of a Spaniard by the name of Gaetan who mistook these shores for Mexico. They searched for the gold they'd only just heard about. Finding no such gifts of land and labor, they departed shortly after arrival in the 16th century, never to return.

Whatever the truth might be, Kaua'i remained a world unto itself. The arrival of Captain James Cook in 1778 changed that.

On that fateful third and final journey through the Pacific, he sailed two ships (Discovery, Resolution) into Waimea Bay, beginning the era that would forever alter the polytheistic and natural resources of the people.

Over fifty years after Hawai'i was forcibly adopted into U.S. territories in 1893, it was eventually granted statehood in 1959, even getting its own time zone. Hawaii is one of two states in the union (Arizona, Hawai'i) that don't subscribe to Daylight Savings.

Being a west-side person comes with its snares along the road. Quite seriously, there's only one main drag wrapping the perimeter of Kaua'i. Think about that! More than 75% of the island is untouched, pristine with fiercely jagged, green mountains.

Getting stuck in traffic here isn't all that bad. Most of the time, you're in and out without much thought. Where else can you listen to crickets or spot rainbows while palm trees turn to silhouettes on the side of the road?

This all sounds so poetic, like a Kerouac excursion across the mainland USA but it's the truth.

Shopping can be an inconvenient 45-minute drive east where affordable Costco Gas and the only fully-equipped home improvement store, Home Depot is located. Most folks out this distance are self-reliant in their own ways.

It's pretty common to get the look of "I don't know what you're talking about" when gushing over the new shopping developments or restaurants east to the north shore.

Westside does mean less traffic, which ultimately means less shopping and attractions. Yet the people still manage to brew beer out here. Of which the coldest draughts are not poured at Kaua'i Island Brewing. But 20 minutes further west at 'Da Pizza Place inside Chicken In A Barrel at the Waimea Plantation Cottages.

After you've continued on past Waimea Canyon Drive, just follow the scent of smoky barbecue, and you're there.

From the downhill descent into Ele'Ele to the flood plains past Kekaha, there are more young families whose children can play in the streets. Freely, without a brand new 2003 lifted Toyota Tacoma running them over.

It's a safe and deeply connected community. It's a place where the ever-elusive Mark Zuckerberg can be seen in his natural environment, surfing on a hydrofoil while holding the American flag.

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Author: Amanda Hartley
Blog #: 0837 – 11/22/21

Why Tip? - Lodging Newsletter February 28, 2021

By Wm, May
Published: 02/28/21 Topics: AirBnB, Branding, Channel Management, Lodging Newsletter, Vacation Rental Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

A new vacation rental landlord was appalled to find that the management firm put "Housekeeper Tip Envelopes" into homes. She incorrectly concluded that the housekeepers were not paid sufficiently.

Seems she has no idea how to be in the hospitality industry. Certainly housekeepers appreciate tips, but tips are not really there for the money.

  • Tips show appreciation.
  • Tips show recognition of the hard work.
  • Tips show respect for undesirable work.
  • Tips are the price you pay to avoid the job.
  • Tips show you are a kind person.

Maybe if she scrubbed floors, unclogged toilets, and pushed a vacuum until her hands grew callouses, and did it for years on end, just maybe she would begin to feel what it's like to be disrespected.

During the Covid crisis, it has been reported that customers are tipping restaurant servers, delivery drivers, and other service people, less than ever before. Of course, some consumers have less money available to leave tips, but for everyone else - shame on us.

Millions have lost jobs. Some have taken positions at lower wages. Some have been forced into part-time work. So now is the time to show more respect for people, not less.

Without much forethought our family has been trying to tip higher than usual nowadays. But this ungrateful client gave us a brand new idea. Not only is it time to tip everyone well, maybe it's time to start a movement - it's time to double tip everyone.

Tonight we stopped for fast-food take-out and tipped $20 on a $25 order, plus a big heartfelt THANK YOU to people willing to work in a steamy hot restaurant kitchen so we could have an easy meal.

The wonderful young clerk said, "Oh, that’s too much." To which we had to say, "Oh no, that’s just right." And the best part of tipping double is that you will get more out of it than the recipient. Generosity always benefits the giver.

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Do we brag too much in these newsletter? Or maybe we promote too little, because it is our duty to help clients make a good decision when choosing to become vacation rental landlords.

There are signficant differences in how to run a vacation rental, how to hire a thoroughly competent managers, how to deal with guests, what to think about all the advertising websites and their usurious fees. And even bigger issues confront someone cavalierly deciding to become a "Do It Yourself" owner.

Why would anyone want to DIY vacation rental management? There are those who need a hobby. Some feel it would be a joy to "talk" with guests. Some love the idea of sharing a home they are so proud of.

Those reasons are fine, of course, but the hidden factor in lodging managemement is that guests don't care about what owners want. It's not about the owner, it's about the guest.

Any owner can feel some success because, with today's online websites, most anyone, for most any kind of property can secure some bookings. But getting some bookings and getting all bookings at the highest possible rates is just not possible for most owners.

As the old saying goes, "Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then."

So the question is how much are owners losing by going Do it Yourself?

Without the kind of completely comprehensive marketing, advertising, distribution, cross selling, hospitality grade cleaning, quick maintenance, and reservation experts like ours, most owners are earning half what they should be earning. And working twice as hard.

A HomeAway.com study revealed that owners spend an average of 9.2 hours per week dealing with rental issues. And some of those are in the middle of the night.

Self managing may give owners a sense of control, but unfortunately many such owners are overly selfish and fail at the good hospitality test. Some think they are "cutting out the middle man" (manager's fee), but most are actually cutting their income and increasing their work greatly.

By speaking with hundreds of guests on the phone each week, we hear them scream complaints about dealing with owners directly. They talk about owners who are non-responsive, not clean enough, rude and demanding. Not everyone is cut out to be in the hospitality industry.

If you don’t love people, even when they are difficult, you can't succeed fully in this business.

During Covid we have received calls from DIY owners everyday whose housekeepers failed to show up to clean. These owners lived hundreds or thousands of miles from their rental homes. They thought all they needed was someone to come over immediately to clean their homes,

They begged, "Hey can you help me out just this one time?"

We helped where we could, but our time and allegiance must be to home owners who value the stabilty, reliablity and quality of what we do and realize the value of having a trusted management firm ready to handle every little thing.

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Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0811 – 02/28/21
Sponsor: Vortex Organization – We train quality people to help run unique Inns, Resorts and We train quality people to help run unique Inns, Resorts and Vacation Rental Management companies in an industry that has been a webby net of technology combined with good old fashioned property, guest and owner services. – VortexManagers.com

If Jimi Hendricks, Prince, and Pavarotti Were Hawaiian

By Wm. May
Published: 05/18/20 Topics: Hawaii, Music, Self Improvement Comments: 0

Steven Tyler and Uncle Willie K
Aerosmith's Steven Tyler Sings With His Uncle

This blog is not about me. But a bit of background might help. I grew up playing all kinds of music from a young age, not necessarily playing well but playing none the less.

It started with a concert level pianist mother and a father with a soaring tenor voice. I picked up a trumpet in fourth grade, met the high school band instructor and play with him for 8 years through high school.

But first there were piano and trumpet lessons and concerts with the concert band, marching band, stage band, pep band, concert orchestra and even our own little school sponsored "Tijuana Brass" imitation band called - unbelievably in 1969- the Marijuana Brass.

A the age of 13 I happened to hear some new English group called the Beatles on the radio of our tiny neighborhood store Perini's. I was hooked and started a band, then another, playing with many great musicians while we all wanted to become famous and play on the Ed Sullivan TV show.

Or at least we wanted to be swooned over by girls in the way they swooned when watching the Beatles. In 1964, at the age of 13, somehow I talked some parent into driving my bandmates and I the 100 miles to attend a Beatles concerts at the Seattle Center Coliseum.

The Beatles played in the round and the stage slowly revolved so everyone could see them. The sound equipment quality was terrible. The girls screamed so loud we could not hear the music. But we could see the magic.

I played guitar and bass in numerous rock bands and made a living at it for some years, a small living. I partnered in a sound studio, a jingle company and an advertising agency. But eventually moved on to being a fan and not a performer. It was a good run.

In the Charles Cross's biography of Seattle's rock band "Heart", Ann and Nancy Wilson revealed they too attended one of the two times the Beatles played in Seattle.

As they walked out of the concert Nancy, the younger sister, asked , "Why are they all the girls screaming?"

To which Ann said, "They all want to marry the Beatles."

Said Nancy, "We don't want to marry the Beatles, we want to be the Beatles?

And the rest is Heart rock and roll history. They became famous. I did not.

As I said, this blog isn't about me, it is only to imply that I know a little about music and I know that I achieved journeyman status at best.. Years later I stumbled upon a musician who proved it.

Hearing Uncle Willie K music on the radio in Hawaii and then seeing him perform left me flabbergasted by his talent. His skill was astounding and his versatility beyond believing. You can love music and respect the musician at the same time.

Better than all of that, he had a kind of charisma I had never seen - sheer confidence and humor. He knew he could take an audience anywhere he wanted them to go. Including his rendition of "We are the world" completed with uncanny imitations of Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Tina Turner. No body else can do that

Eric Gilliom, a versatile TV actor and Hawaiian music master, formed a "Hawaiian Super group" with Willie called Barefoot Natives. Before one show willie asked him what was the most money he had ever made doing a concert. When Eric said something like $10,000 willie sat down and said, "Let me see your $10,000 show tonight."

willie and Eric' sister the superlative Amy Hanaialii Gilliom became a couple and willie produce four award winning albums of their own brand of Hawaiian and other music. I loved the music before I knew who they were. As did every Hawaiian.

William Awihilima Kahaiali'I - willie K - grew up playing young at the knee of his father the nationally known and admired Manu Kahaiali'i. Willie was just one of 13 children, so his Dad played music 7 days a week to pay the bills, everything from jazz, blues and Hawaiian of course.

Maybe that is why he branched in so many musical directions. He idolized Jimi Hendricks and prince. That lead him to just about every other kind of music. He was famous for Christmas Carols, but also Salsa, Jazz and Reggae.

He was sought out and accompanied Mick Fleetwood of Fleet Mac, his solo chagrined Billy Idol of ZZ top, Prince praised him, Willy Nelson sang duets with him, but so did Alice Cooper. BB king invited him on stage, he sang with the Commodores and he laughed with comedian Jim Cary. Barack Obama played willie K loud during workouts. willie and Steven Tyler became best buddies.

Maybe they loved they guy because they felt a little like me - unworthy.

He was known through out the world for guitar and ukulele skills but 10 years ago at a local Hawaiian concert he baffled the audience when he dismissed the other musicians from stage, stood silent a long while and finally said, very somberly,

"I am very sad. Last week Pavarotti died. I think he and I were brothers. Tonight I will sing Nessum Dorma"

Afterward, 800 people sat silent and then jumped to their feet screaming "Hanna Hou" (encore). It was the start of many appearances with symphony's singing opera music. On a trip to Israel he brought Jewish congregations to tears by mastering the Israeli national nation.

In 2018, willie K announced that he had contracted a very aggressive cancer, but promised to keep performing as he always had, at every opportunity. His Maui Bluest fest continued each year. He took aggressive treatment but in the end he died quietly at his home May 18, 2020 surround by Ohana.

I didn’t know William Awihilima Kahaiali'I personally, and yet everyone who saw him perform knew him personally. The way it is with all great musicians and performers, they leave themselves, their skills, their personalities and souls on stage with all to see.

Upon hearing of willie's passing, Alice Cooper said it best, "Heaven will be in for one hell of a surprise. I can almost hear the thunderous applause."

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There are so many links because of the variety. Couldn't stop myself.

KHON TV

BILLY GIBBON ZZ TOP

HAWAIIAN

BARE FOOT NATIVES

HALLELUJAH

HAVA NAGILA

NATIONAL ANTHEM

STARTING OPERA

NESSUN DORMA

O HOLY NIGHT

SOUND CHECK

WE ARE THE WORLD

KHON TV

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Author: Wm. May – Music Fan
Blog #: 0757 – 05/18/20

Clean, Wipe, Soak, Scrub, Brush, Scour, Polish

By Ron Lee
Published: 04/18/20 Topics: Covid-19 Virus, Housekeeping, Property Management Comments: 0

How to Clean and Sanitize Vacation Rental Homes

Since our first office opened in 1964, we have been rigorously cleaning and sanitizing properties for decades. This is nothing new to us. In fact, our homes are cleaned to a degree higher than most people have at home. It has always been our commitment to have every home safe and ready for guest arrival.

Get a Real Getaway

If you need a vacation, holiday escape, spring break, fresh air and time alone, vacation rentals are the best option. Bring kids or not. Bring the family or just your spouse. Most homes are free-standing, so you can avoid crowds. Even in our condos, the homes are open corridor, so there is no need to pass through common areas, like lobbies and dark hallways.

When Guests Depart

After guests depart, housekeepers arrive at every home to clean, wipe, soak, scrub, brush, scour, mop and polish bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, common spaces and even decks and patios, linens, towels and surfaces. Hot tubs are disinfected. This entire process - called "out Clean" - takes many hours. Then homes are spot checked by managers to ensure good work. When departing, all staff members use bleach rags, so that even the door knob and key-safe are sanitized. Wow!

Sanitation Cleaning Products

We use a variety of products to clean, disinfect and sanitize. All are approved for high health standards. We still use bleach for some areas because it is still the gold standard for killing every kind of bug. In fact, if you enter a home immediately after housekeepers depart, for a few minutes you may detect a slight cleaning smell. That is your assurance of sanitization.

Bathroom Super Scrub

Cleaning bathrooms is not a fun task, but we carefully clean all sinks, mirrors, toilets, drawers, bathtubs and shower enclosures until they sparkle. But they have also been sprayed and later wiped with disinfectant. Soiled and unsoiled towels are removed before cleaning starts to avoid cross contamination. This is a hands-and-knees job, but housekeepers pride themselves on meticulous cleaning.

Proper Wipe Downs

You might think that spraying and wiping surfaces with disinfectant is sufficient, but it is not. Instead, disinfectant must be left on surfaces for a period of time before it is wiped away. This gives time for the liquid to kill all the germs.

- Door knobs inside and outside.

- Window switches.

- Light switches and sockets.

- Lamp switches.

- Cupboard doors and surfaces.

- Table tops including night stands.

- Appliances - top and sides.

- Counter tops.

- Reachable walls.

- Outdoor furniture.

- Stairs and deck handrails.

- Toasters and coffee makers.

- TV and other remote controls.

- Stereos and computers.

- Door bells and key safes.

- Toys and board games.

- Pet toys and blankets.

- And more.

Vacuuming, Mopping, Sweeping

Are you ever tempted to do floors fast? By slowing down the process and covering every floor surface carefully, dirt, grime and germs are removed. We keep equipment new and well maintained to get the best results. Housekeepers are never limited to cleaning hours. Instead, they are encouraged to take all the time they need to do the job right.

Kitchens and Dining Rooms

Kitchens get splattered on, baked in and used heavily. It is a big job, but to get kitchens spic-and-span is essential, from the stove to oven to refrigerator, but also microwaves, cupboards, fans and light fixtures. Cleaned inside and out. You will notice we remove condiments, such as ketchup and mustard left from prior guests, because leaving open containers violates health standards. You'll have to bring your own, but you'll know they are new and fresh.

Hot Tubs and Spas

Every hot tub is completely disinfected after each booking by trained staff members. Sand or debris is removed, filters are inspected, and chemicals are adjusted. In addition, the hot tub cove, top and side surfaces are disinfected. If you arrive to a tub that is not yet fully heated, please wait because we had to empty and refill it. Takes time to reheat.

Towels and Linens

Washing and drying linens and towels is an obvious step, be we wall all of them, even if a bed does not appear to have been slept in. They are transported to the washer-dryer using rubber gloves and laundry bags, and they are returned to beds in baskets to avoid cross contamination. Along with quality detergent, additional disinfectant is added to all washing to ensure germs are eradicated.

Deep Cleans

In addition to our rigorous out-clean, homes receive deep cleans regularly to cover hard to access areas, including heating ducts, cupboard sides and ceilings, high surfaces, fans, carpets and more. This takes many hours, and ensures the cleanest possible property.

When Guests Depart

You may notice that we do NOT as guests to do laundry or to remove linens and towels to the laundry area. We do it all to ensure that every textile has been washed and cleaned properly without dragging it through the house.

Call Us Quick: 206-504-2744

If at any time during your stay, if you find any issue, call our 24-7-365 day phone number for assistance. If necessary, our staff will happily come to the property to ensure all is right. And if you want daily cleaning, we can arrange that too, for a small additional fee.

Avoid Crowds, Stay in a Private, Vacation Home!

Year round, in every season, and no matter what is happening in the rest of the world, vacation rentals offer a respite from the rate race, a chance to get away and to enjoy a sparkling clean, sanitized home.

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Author: Ron Lee, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0742 – 04/18/20

Christmas Trees Endanger the World

By William May
Published: 01/17/15 Topics: Government Comments: 0

Christmas Trees Endanger the World

The latest target of political extremists is the lowly Christmas Trees. They have pronounced that live- fresh versions are terribly dangerous when located in public places, like hotels, condo buildings, restaurants and even correction facilities (double speak for jails.)

This is really just another form of hate crime - where one group of people decide to punish and impugn the people they hate who behave differently than them.

Here is the pitch from Honolulu Fire Dept. Battalion chief Terry Seelig found on KHON TV website in Hawaii:

"Our goal is to help them understand what their options are," proclaims Seelig. Inherent in his hubris is that he and fire chiefs know what is best for everyone, even those who want to have a Christmas tree.

In faux generosity he is wiling to allow that those under his thumb, "can have limited amounts of cut vegetation."

Why must he create strange new terms and then explain them to the public like they are children? It is just his method of demeaning the people he serves.

And if you think politico speak is rare, get this one from Seelig, "They are going to probably have some change remorse." Really? Change remorse? Why can't he just admit, 'this is really going to peeve people but I just really don’t care what anyone things who thinks differently than me?'

No one should be surprised by this latest government official land grab. Big brother has an insatiable appetite to gain mind control citizens in every possible way, and to do it with inane laws and regulations.

The hypocrisy is proven by the fact that he is willing to grant some dispensation to the lowly serfs by saying that people "can have trees in their individual apartments." So if a tree is not dangerous in a private home why is it not safe in a restaurant?

This is not a rant about the political left or the right, but about a much more dangerous group - government thugs who feel they have nothing better to do with their time than to find a single complaint and decided that 300 million people should adjust their lives to conform to the mathematically unlikely scenario that a Christmas Tree will burst into flames and be dangerous.

For more insight into crazy thinking and stupid laws, be sure to read, "The Death of Commons Sense" available on Amazon.com.

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Author: William May – Anti-Scrooge Advocate, Plumbob Publishing
Blog #: 0388 – 01/17/15

Vacation Rentals Enhance the Neighborhood

By William May
Published: 08/15/12 Topics: Comments: 0

Drive down most any neighborhood today and you may see a difference from a decade ago.

In that time, especially in recreational areas such as ski resorts, ocean and beach areas, lakes and mountains there is a new vibrancy. The change is even visible in many city and suburban destinations and all for a reason that some in the neighborhood feared.

Vacation Rentals have gone from being common only in resort areas such as Hawaii, the Caribbean, ski areas and beach communities to having become mainstream in just about every corner of the world, every country, every city and every neighborhood.

NEIGHBORHOODS SPRING TO LIFE:

They are especially welcome in neighborhoods where tourism supports the local economy and pays the bills. The hotel industry has continued to grow but, according to some experts, vacation rentals have grown at an inspiring 30% for the past decade. And why not?

Second Home owners are a well meaning lot. They buy their places intending to visit often, for extended periods, to bring family and gift to friends. It’s a great deal but many owners soon realize they have other things to do too. On average, a second home owner stays just 20 days per year in their dream home.

Prior to the Vacation Rental Boom, these homes sat quiet, empty and forlorn when the master and mistress of the home were not in residence. In controlled neighborhoods rules required lawns be mowed, and garbage be taken in. But in some areas, it is common to see 90% of the homes sitting dark and foreboding most of the year.

INTERNET SHARING:

The idea on the internet started slowly enough - why not share your home with paying guests, when not in residence. Of course, earning rents sounded like a good idea. But having guests causes the house to spring to life. Guests turn on the lights, use the pool, toast marshmallows around the fire, or in winter snuggle around the fireplace.

Most vacation home renters are families anxious to spend time with their children, adult siblings and maybe even grandpa and grandpa. Multi-general uses are common and this too benefits the home. It brings new people to the community, some of whom become intrigued to buy a home there for themselves.

The old saw that vacation rentals are for "parties" was never true and isn't true today. Along with Internet growth, a stable of professional management companies has arisen who require credit cards, deposit systems, written contracts, strong rules and regulations. These pros are close at hand to serve the guests, maintain the property and answer to the neighbors.

REGULATIONS:

Smart communities have seen fit to set reasonable regulations for vacation rental homes such as limiting occupancy and vehicles, requiring quiet hours and an onsite manager. Smart owners embrace regulations to keep neighbors happy. And smart neighbors appreciate a community that is alive with children, smiles and families having fun.

Long-term rental tenants sometimes fail to maintain homes in good condition. Short-term vacation rental owners must keep homes up to snuff to attract guests, and with higher rental income they have the money to do so.

Communities that prohibit rentals outright are finding courts disagree with them because doing so eliminates a basic right - to rent property as the owner sees fit. Knowing vacation rentals have been shown to be good neighbors the move to regulated responsible rentals is the only method that addresses the needs of all concerned.

Vacation Rentals are a boom for local businesses, help home values rise and introduce a brand new traveler to the area - the traveler who today demands a vacation rental home for longer stays, when bringing family and when hoping to savor the destination for all it has to offer.

SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE

In addition to Vacation Rentals the Internet's new "Sharing Economy" stands to subtlety change many other aspects of how people live their lives.

Going to a grand hotel for grand service will never go away. Stopping for a quick night at a convenient motel makes long trips easier. And now Vacation Rentals allow property owners to share their homes with responsible guests. It lights up the neighborhood, keeps home in good condition and shows the communities hospitality.

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Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0234 – 08/15/12

Become a Vacation Rental Angel

By William May
Published: 03/01/10 Topics: Comments: 0

Operating a vacation rental business can be fun and profitable but it is also an opportunity to do some good in the world. Now property owners and managers can do that by participating in a public program that offers unused vacation rental nights to charitable causes through the Vacation Rental Angels Website.

The program is administered by the Vacation Rental Association (Vrai.org) a not-for-profit trade association offering membership services to owners, managers, suppliers and website publishers.

"Every now and then we see a property or manager who is inaccurately portrayed in the media", says William May, President volunteer Executive Director of VRA, "And we thought it was high time that the public understands the millions of dollars that owners donate to good causes."

VRA offers inspections and verifications of properties to assure the traveling public of property quality. Members of VRA subscribe to a Code of Ethics and the vast majority of properties are well run, even luxurious. Guest complaints are almost non-existent for VRA members, who take their responsibilities seriously.

Participation in the Angel program is open to all VRA members and there is no cost or rigid rules for donations. Members who agree to offer at least one week per year free to charities may join the program and have their properties and their donations listed on the VacationRentalAngels.com website.

"Limiting how and when donations, or forcing owners to use the site for giving, would only serve to lessen donations," said May, "And that would defeat the entire idea. This program says give first and then get a little recognition later".

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Vrai.org operates the world's first Multiple-Listing-Service (MLS) for Vacation Rentals at www.VRMLA.org. VRA member can easily post their property to the VacationRentalAngels.com website along with subscribing to many other paid and free websites. Vacation Rental Owners and Managers, not already VRA members, can join the group and become Angels by visiting www.Vrai.org to join.

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Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0138 – 03/01/10

Lotus Hale Hawaiian Villa Vs. Poipu Grand Hyatt Hotel

By William May
Published: 01/09/09 Topics: Comments: 0

The Grand Hyatt at Poipu Kauai Hawaii is a real gem. If you want beauty and pampering this is your place - provided you want to a small room, high prices, less privacy and a hike to everything you might want to do.

For just about $400 per night you get one of the 602 motel 6 size rooms. Better appointed of course but you will be 200 yards from the lobby, 200 yards from your car and 200 yards from the beach.

Oh and about that beach, its not Poipu Beach but Shipwreck beach. A nice place but too dangerous to swim most times of the year. You'll have the pleasure of paying top dollar for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the intrusion of the very pleasant housekeepers.

Or for that same $400 per night you can stay in the Lotus Hale - a true Hawaii villa two blocks west. You are closer to Poipu Beach and inside the Poipu Kai Resort complete with pools, hot tubs, tennis and onsite restaurant. ()(lotushale.com)lotushale.com.

You get privacy and a huge home with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, huge private lanai, gourmet kitchen, plasma TV. Plus your car is just outside the door. Better yet for that same $400 dollars you can bring 7 of your friends and family and spend time in the huge living room enjoying each other's company.

Lotus Hale is just one of the many discrete vacation rental homes and condo's available from Tradewind Vacation Rentals at (tradewindvacationrentals.com)tradewindvacationrentals.com. A local company that has a national reach due to its membership in the national Sunspot Vacation Rentals Network. (sunspotresorts.com)sunspotresorts.com.

Sunspots is building the first global network for vacation rental managers in order to establish quality standards, instant booking and first-rate owner services. Tradewind provides pristine cleaning, quick maintenance if you need it and first-rate guest and owner services.

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Author: William May – Manager, Sunspot Vacation Rentals
Blog #: 0095 – 01/09/09

Barack Obama Endorses Vacation Rentals

By William May
Published: 11/24/08 Topics: Comments: 0

The next President of the United States has effectively endorsed the entire concept of Vacation Rentals by renting a private home in Kailua on the North Shore of Oahu, a Hawaiian Island. He is staying there for a week with his wife Michelle and two daughters.

He is staying at a secluded beach rental, obscured from the road by a long driveway and trees, about an hour’s drive from Honolulu. He plans to body surf, has already been on the golf course, visited a childhood favorite drive-in restaurant and visited his grandmother in her Oahu apartment building.

He said he might stop by Zippy’s, an Hawaiian chain restaurant known for its chili, or the Rainbow Drive-In for a Hawaiian "plate lunch," a mix of rice, macaroni salad and meat.

"I am going to go get some shave ice," he said. "I am going to go bodysurfing at an undisclosed location. I am going to see my Tutu, my grandma. And I am going to watch my girls play on the beach, and maybe once in awhile I will go in the water. But mostly I am going to sit there and watch them."

(In Hawaii the term Tutu is reserved for beloved grandmothers.)

In short Obama is doing what millions of Americans and others around the world have learned - staying in a private beach home is more comfortable, saves money and allows visitors to fit into the neighborhood rather than being relegated to tourist ghettos like the high-rise hotels and noisy diesel buses of Waikiki.

Republicans, still hoping to smear him as an elitist for frequenting such a high end vacation area, need to remember that Obama was born and raised in Honolulu. Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle who tows the party line should know better. In fact, Obama lived in Hawaii well before Lingle arrived on its shores.

Although he graduated from the prestigious Punahou School on Oahu in 1979 he did so on a financial need and academic scholarship afforded to those with great merit. At this point, it would be difficult to call the school's decision anything but prophetic.

The Maui news quoted local residents in the Windward Oahu beach community who have said they are excited to have Obama as their neighbor for a week and hope to catch a glimpse of him.

''Maybe we'll go back down to the beach and see if we could see him. That would be real cool - our future president down at our beach,'' said surfer Anthony Burris.

Like cranky xenophobes everywhere, these may be the same neighbors who yelp loudly at county officials saying only full-time residents should be allowed to stay in homes in areas such as Kailua.

But Obama's residency underscores that everyone, guests as well as residents, have a right to stay and enjoy the quiet lifestyle of a wonderful beach community.

Obama is just another American who endorses vacation rentals for what the comfort job and family atmosphere they offer. If vacation rentals are good for the next president of the United States they should be allowed for all visitors.

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Author: William May, MayPartners Advertising
Blog #: 0085 – 11/24/08

What Makes Vacation Rentals Unique

By Ana M. Kinkaid
Published: 06/11/07 Topics: Comments: 0

Vacation Rentals are the newest member of the hospitality industry. Here are some of the ways that vacation rentals offer an attractive alternative to traditional lodging.

LOTS OF ROOM - One of the biggest differences between a vacation rental and almost all other forms of lodging is the space available to your guests. Hotels offer a room. Vacation rentals offer a complete living space. Instead of renting a mere room and bath, you get a much larger area which often includes a kitchen, a backyard, a living room and a dining room. What a difference!

MORE PRIVATE SPACE - Vacation rentals also offer total privacy. In a hotel you can’t walk across the lobby in your pajamas. At a B&B you can’t have breakfast by yourself. In a vacation rental you can.

REDUCED FOOD COSTS - Hotels offer food through their restaurants. The cost of hotel meals includes insurance, labor, décor, replacement and profit. If your guest is cooking their own meals in their vacation rental, they are saving a lot of money as these costs aren't’t included in what they spend. In a vacation rental the guest can eat what they want, not just what is on the menu.

Besides being expensive, hotel food is often high in calories. Vacation rentals enable the guest to continue enjoying their regular food habits and save vacation dollars. Does it get any better than that?

OPEN SCHEDULE - Hotels are historically based on the model of a great estate house, not a relaxed home. B&Bs are based on the model of an urban boarding house. Both of these formats operate on a schedule because staffing has a timetable of what must get done when. Breakfast is served from X to Y in a hotel because there has to be time for the staff to rewash the dishes and prep for lunch. Vacation rentals don't force their guests into such a fixed schedule.

The same is true of housekeeping. Housekeeping needs to be able to enter the room during a certain time period in order to "turn the room“. In a vacation rental the guest can sleep as long as they want to because they are the ones who are going to fluff the comforter (or not).

NO ADDITIONAL ENTERTAINMENT COSTS - I will never forget the bill I got once when my then young daughter flipped from one pay for view movie to another in a hotel as if she was at home watching TV! At a vacation rental that problem doesn’t occur.

Guests can bring their own movies or rent them at a local outlet. Speaking of small children, the guest does not have to deal with the hotel porn channel at a vacation rental. Also the hot tub is free and uncrowded!

INCREASED SAFETY - Hotels have large distant parking lots. At a vacation rental you are in a neighborhood setting which is probably patrolled regularly by the police. You are also the only person who has the punch code or entrance card for the residence. It would startle you if you knew just how many people have the code/card to your standard hotel room.

AUTHENTIC COMMUNITY EXPERIENCE - Hotels seldom represent the everyday life of a neighborhood. Staying in a hotel in Houston, for example, is not the same as strolling through a small Houston neighborhood, shopping in its local stores or making purchases at the nearby farmers’ market.

The hottest trend in the hospitality industry right now is authentic regional experiences. No sector of the market provides that as well as vacation rentals.

MORE REALISTIC LIFE PATTERN - We all have our way of doing things. Vacation rentals enable guests to have the greatest chance of transferring their established lifestyle patterns over to their holiday. If a guest loves a warm brandy at 11PM in their bathrobe, then they can have it.

In a hotel, room service may be closed and the bar requires getting dressed. B&Bs rarely have a liquor license.

LONG TERM PLANNING - Hotels are extremely rate-conscious as operating costs can vary greatly season to season. As a result, hotels are often hesitant to quote rates a year in advance.

If a guest is planning a vacation long in advance, this can be difficult. Vacation rentals usually have no difficult booking that far out.

FINANCIAL SAVINGS - Foot per square foot, vacation rentals are offer one of the best values to vacationers. There is no fee for using the hot tub or viewing DVDs. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are when you want them and each meal can be your favorite food.

Be sure to tell your guests how special vacation rentals are AND why they are different than any other form of lodging. Once your guests understand what a vacation rental is really all about, they will return to enjoy them again and again. And they will tell their friends!

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INPUT:
Please let us know your thoughts about what makes your vacation rental one of the best choices for modern travelers. I'd love to hear about what makes your property special. Send in your tips and techniques, concerns and compliments. We all have so much to share with each other. I look forward to your calls and emails. You can reach me at 206-343-7777, ext 920 or Ana @vroa.org

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THIS WEEK'S TOP PROPERTY: Vista Grande Ranch, Washington State

Located in north central Washington in the beautiful Methow Valley, the Vista Grande Ranch certainly earns its name. This 650 acre ranches invites guests to enjoy over 4,300 square feet of relaxing inside space as well as 1,800 square feet of wrap-around cedar decking outside. And the views are fantastic! We just had to select this outstanding property as the VROA Top Property of the week.

Visit their web site (vgranch.com)vgranch.com and you'll see a property that would delight any guest.
=============================

VROA OWNER NEWSLETTER
Published weekly for all Members
Copyright - Vacation Rental Owners Association
Read this and all prior newsletters at (VROA.org)VROA.org

Director & Editor - Ana Kinkaid
Ana@VROA.orgAna@VROA.org
P.O. Box 21305
Seattle, WA 98111-3305
Voice: 206-343-7777, ext 920
Fax: 206-628-0839
Email: info@VROA.orginfo@VROA.org
WEB: (VROA.org)VROA.org

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Author: Ana M. Kinkaid, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0072 – 06/11/07

Vacation Rentals In Afghanistan

By William May
Published: 09/05/04 Topics: Comments: 0

I kid you not. The LA Times is reporting that Estullah Rooz, after years of fighting Soviets, rival Mujahedee and the Taliban, the man known as the Commander Mullah is going corporate. And how you say? Well, he's building the first Swiss designed and pre-fabricated Vacation Rental homes on Lake Qargha six miles north of the Afghanistan capital of Kabul.

Rooz concocted the idea with a friend of his - Zemary Hakaim - who immigrated to Switzerland in 1972 and became a self confessed Hippie. Together they leased land at the lake and convinced local landlords to allow them to erect the Swiss Style Chalets. And for labor, Rooz and Hakaim recruited or converted experienced freedom fighters into carpenters, landscapers and service personnel at twice the pay of a soldier's salary.

Rooz expects his Vacation Rental homes to be a real money maker once erected. For now, he profits with food sales and guests can also visit the recently opened golf course complete with pro shop made out of an old, dented shipping container.

COMMENTARY:
Don't you love entrepreneurs? They're the ones who find a way to bring a great idea to fruition. In a very convoluted way this is nothing more than what many resort area owners have learned to do with their vacation homes over the past few years: cater to different renters. Evolve the renting market from one of quaint cabins and rustic retreats into one of fancy homes and luxurious villas. With skyrocketing prices, enterprising individuals find a way to overcome their limitations.

As illustrated by our comrade in arms Mr. Estullah Rooz. I'm going to write him a letter and offer him an Honorary VROA membership. He certainly deserves one and I think we might just have a few tidbits that might help him along the way. I'm sure he also has tips for those of us looking to setup our own rentals in Afghanistan.

I won't be the first to rent his place but goodness knows I really wish him well.

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Author: William May, MayPartners Advertising
Blog #: 0158 – 09/05/04

The Trouble With Hotels

By William May
Published: 04/06/04 Topics: Comments: 0

Can anyone tell me why a family would stay in a Hotel for their vacation? I was reminded recently of how distressing it can be when we visited the famous Waikiki Beach area of Hawaii.

Penny and I hadn't spent much time there for 20 years but my 14 year old son decided there were things he just needed to see like the Bishop Museum, Hanama Bay and the world famous North Shore surfing sites.

So on our working trip to Kauai we stayed over on the island of Oahu and took a hotel room smack dap in the middle of the action. Waikiki, Pearl Harbor, the might Mo battleship and all the sites were worth the effort. But an effort it was.

The name of the hotel shall remain anonymous because I don't want to get sued for libel (but hey, truth is a defense). It was a 30 story high rise building across the street from the people-packed beach and had been recently decorated. It was clean and well staffed and, in general, no worse and certainly no better than other tourist havens.

But let me tell you why it wasn't a vacation and why most hotel stays don't qualify as a holiday. These slightly stressful reasons are exactly why the vacation rental industry is growing fast. If you want a vacation you need a vacation home.

YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME:

- In order to check in, we stood in line with 40 other people as the clerks were working feverishly (at least those that spoke english). It sill took 20 minutes to get a key. Room cost was just $199 per night, plus, plus, plus. (More on that later).

- My son was a little slow on jumping out of the rental car which allowed the bell man to snatch the bags and rush them to bell hop prison. She he did the honors. Cost for the tip $8

- We proceeded to the room which had two double beds (no queen beds in this space conscious establishment.), adequate mattresses and the traditional black out curtains. No frills here. There was a small closet and a shower curtain that wouldn't stay up.

- Penny flung open the curtains and stepped out onto the 18" deck with a peek-a-boo view of the beach. No room for a chair out there but that was OK because the roar of the building HVAC system made it impossible to talk. Plus the stench of diesel bus fuel wafted up even to our 24th floor room.

- She quickly crammed the door shut only to discover a loud locomotive sound coming from the air as it blasted under the hallway door and whistled through the deck door that wouldn't close all the way.

- Thee was no place to lay out the suitcases so we used the floor which meant there was then no where to walk. We collapsed on the bed.

- Soon hunger called. After a long flight we dial room service to order from the gourmet menu except the entrees seemed like left over from an Antarctica research camp. (I'm thinking everything comes out of a can). An hour later and $71 and we have dinner for three.

- My soon wanted an extra coke but we didn't think we could wait another hour and pay another $5 so he finds a pop machine in the hall for the bargain price of $3.

- Then he finds the mini bar, "WAAAAAAIT yell before he grabs a snickers bar." I'm thinking $3 per candy bar is highway robbery.

- I need to logon for a few minutes but sorry no high speed internet in this aging beach beauty. I can use dialup in a pinch and find, hidden in the guest "Courtesy" manual that the cost for the data port (i.e.: phone line) is only one dollar per minute. Sorry I pass.

- And head to the street to find an internet cafe. There I find a place with high speed internet for just $6 per hour. But why do I have to march around the neighborhood to use it?

- At long last we find ourselves tuckered and trampled and snug in bed ready for a good night's sleep. No such luck. We hear Waikiki party goes stroll down our hall to their rooms every 20 minutes soused in liquor and banging the walls. It is spring break and a long night.

- Next morning we shuffle into Wolfgang Puck's express cafe for a glorified Egg McMuffin for just $9 each. I would have orange juice too but don't want to mortgage the house.

- Back to the entrance we go to request our car be brought around. It takes 20 minutes and a $3 tip every time we want the car. That, of course, on top of the $15 per day parking fee - but hey you get in and out privileges. Plus the tip each time of course. Even here in paradise if you don't tip your car might come back with dead fish in the trunk if you know what I mean.

- The next night I need to send a fax and am happily surprised that the price is only $1 per

page. Of course I know the long distance call home is now as low as 3 cents per minute but hey they have to make a profit, right?

- On the way back up to the room I discover that the elevators no longer descend to the lobby after 6pm, "To keep out the riff raff" says the clerk. So I'm forced to walk to the far end of the block long building, go up an escalator and then do elevator lottery to figure out which one goes to my floor. Geeeeesh!

- The next day I have to fax again and the clerk says "sorry you were undercharged last night the real rate is $5 for the first page and $3 each additional page. And I'm going to have to bill you for yesterday's mistake." Normally I would debate the issue but by now I'm without sleep or food or stamina.

- On the last day we go to the ice cream parlor on the beach side of the hotel and learn they have a fancy new system where they mix the cold stuff while you watch. And they sing if you give them a tip. I worry what will be hidden in the ice cream if I cough up some moolah. So the ice ream adventure is just $18 for three people. Last time someone took me for this much money the perpetrator was wearing a mask and had a gun.

- As we depart this Shangrila we have to traverse the gauntlet of outstretched hands. $10 for the maid (is that enough?), $8 for the bellman, $4 for the car. I'm surprised the cashier didn't stick out his hand but by then maybe they realize most guests would chop it off at the wrist.

All in all we did get in some great sight seeing but I couldn't help but keep track of all the ways a hotel vacation rips dollars out of the guest's pocket. Certainly I am not a penny pincher. I even like some of those mega beach-side resorts where you can sit on your bum in the sun for a week and get everything handed to you. And for conferences and meetings, convention hotels are the only way to go.

THE MESSAGE: But now let me make my point. My fellow vacation rental owners, we need to blow the trumpet vacation homes even louder. We have a superior product. And we need to let travelers know the trouble with hotels.

NOTE: Or maybe we are just jealous of hotel owners. They have masterfully figured out how to take maximum dollars off guests while giving them the most meager of product and service.

BENEFITS OF VACATION RENTALS: Let me try to recap just a few of those services many vacation homeowners provide to their guests for free:

- Come and go when you like.

- Free parking usually

- Full kitchen, pots and pans for making macaroni and cheese when that suits you.

- Breakfast, lunch and dinner available 24 hours a day.

- No 1,000% markup on food.

- No tipping the rom service waiter.

- No tipping the doorman.

- A lot more room for a lot less money (per square foot)

- Decks you can actually sit on.

- Furniture that is actually comfortable.

- No neighbors on the other side of that flimsy wall.

- Don't have to share the bar with the Russian national drinking team.

- You can open the windows!

- You can turn the heat up or down. Or even on and of. Revolutionary.

- No daily maids to go through your underwear.

- No noisy elevators with noisy people.

- No hand in your wallet every time you turn around.

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INPUT:

As always I seek your input. Please share your tips, techniques, compliments, and complaints on this or any other subject by writing me at Director@VROA.orgDirector@VROA.org.

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Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0045 – 04/06/04

Lau Lau for Christmas Dinner

By William May
Published: 12/22/03 Topics: Comments: 0

It was six years ago on Christmas day. My then eight year old son and I were snorkeling about 40 yards off shore at Poipu Beach Kauai. Having taken weekly swimming lessons since he was just 9 months old Taylor felt safe swimming with me out and around a point in hopes of seeing one of the endangered huge green sea turtles.

As we rounded the point, up swam two local men with spear guns. They were worried.

"Should the boy be put here?" they asked. "Usually only local keiki (kids) come out this far."

"Yes, he's been doing this for two years," I replied.

"Well that's good brah, but hey you want to catch an octopus?" he pointed the question directly at Taylor.

"Sure, I can dive to 18 feet!" he shouted over the noise of the surf.

"You can not."

"Yes I can!"

"OK, big boy, follow me," he challenged He swam with my only child and soon I saw both of them go feet up and straight down down into the blue Pacific.

By the time I could get my mask into the water, I saw my little boy shooting straight back up to the surface with an octopus in his fist, "Look Dad! Look what I got! He was right there under the coral."

We swam to shore with the octopus in hand. My son with the idea of examining and releasing it. Our hosts with the intention of eating it. However, Taylor was also a long time sushi eater and was happy to see how the ink drained onto the sand and back into the water. As we all ate raw octopus my wife and I chatted with the fisherman's buddy.

"Hey, what you doing out here on Christmas day? Your family here?" he inquired.

"No. We're all spread out all over so Penny, and Taylor and I come to Hawaii - our favorite place to seek a little peace and quiet at Christmas time," I explained.

"No Ohana (family) eh? That must be hard yea?" he was looking out to the ocean.

In an area where many bread winners work two jobs to pay the exorbitant cost of living, nothing is as important as family. "So what you having for dinner?"

"Oh, I found a quarter turkey to cook," chimed in Penny with pride that she at least had the traditional dish.

"That's no good," he said. "No good to be away from family. No, I think you go home with us for Christmas. Mama is making Lau Lau. Plenty for everyone. That's settled then. You are coming to our house for Christmas."

We hadn't said a word.

It really wasn't a question. It was a command. And so, perhaps a little homesick, we walked down the beach and up a street to where we found his home and his family and shared a wonderful Christmas dinner, Hawaiian Style. The food was delicious. The hospitality was sensational.

FREE GUAVA PIE:

It wasn't Christmas but we had wandered into the Green Garden restaurant in historic Hanapepe town in West Kauai. You won't find many tourists here but it has a big dining room that is often packed.

The hostess showed us to our seats and then said, "Sis will be along to take your order."

The hostess didn't fit the usual definition. She was over 60 and over 300 pounds, and clearly in charge of the whole place. I don't think "Sis" was actually her sister because she insisted on calling my wife Sis also.

Sure enough Sis came quickly and brought us shrimp appetizers without being asked, "It's very busy. I'll be right back. Here is a little something to tie you over. No charge."

We eventually ordered a wonderful meal but, due to the size of the crowd, service was a little slow and Sis came by frequently to apologize. At the end I ordered a piece of Guava pie to go.

But after I signed the receipt she came back with a full pie in a box explaining, "Sorry we're so slow tonight. I gave you a little extra for waiting. Mahalo (thank you) and Aloha."

HAWAIIAN MUSIC:

Over the years I have become a big fan of Hawaiian Music. I can rationalize my fascination because I was a musician long ago. Or because the music is melodic and because simply playing it on a cold winter night in

Seattle instantly transports me back to the warmth of my second home - Hawaii.

It was a revelation last year when I realized another reason I enjoy the music so much. I was sitting in a small auditorium on the Kauai College Campus listening to Amy Hanaialii Gilliom. She has extraordinary singing skills and, although a young woman, has mastered the old ha'i (falsetto) music style of old Hawaii.

She had the 500 person audience in the palm of her hand as she sang songs of old Hawaii and then dedicated one to her "Tutu" (Grandmother).

That's when it hit me. Another reason I like Hawaiian music because it contrasts much of contemporary music. Rather than complaining about "Ho's" (the mainland derogatory term), Hawaiian music glorifies the seemingly small but actually monumentally important aspects of our lives - things like about grandmothers and sunrises and sunsets.

BRUDDAH IZ:

I was first introduced to Hawaiian music slowly by listening to songs by Cecelio and Kapono; a group that drew my attention when they had a few hits on the rock and roll charts in the 1980's.

From there I discovered Gabby Pahanui, Aunty Genoa Keawe, Kealii Reichel and, of course, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. If you think you've never heard of him I guarantee you've heard his music. Its been used in many motion pictures and television shows.

He sang in both English and Hawaiian and may be best known for his haunting melodies "Somewhere Under the Rainbow" and "It's a Wonderful Life."

Not all my friends understand when I tell them I love the music from a 500 pound Hawaiian. But they have all seen the "ER" television episode where Dr. Mark Green, a navy brat who grew up in Hawaii, dies peacefully in his sleep as Bruddah Iz music plays in the background. Most are moved to tears by the tender voice of a giant man.

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole was a very big man in every sense of the word. He played a tiny soprano ukulele first with the band "Makaha Sons" and later as a solo artist. He died at the age of 38 in 1997 caused by the complications of his massive size.

In his short life, "Bruddah Iz" became a legend. His last album stayed on the world music charts for an astounding 200 weeks in a row. When he passed away he was put to rest in the Hawaiian capitol, an honor never bestowed on anyone else. Over 18,000 people paid their respects.

What was it they saw in him?

Aside from his massive music and voice, Iz promoted the concept of Aloha saying often,"The world will be a better place when it's more like Hawaii." He was talking about the spirit of Aloha and Ohana. The acceptance of others and the challenges we face in melding together. Maybe that is why today, six years after his passing, he is still the top selling artist in Hawaii.

HAWAIIAN ANTHEM

I was nurtured in music by my mother, herself a highly accomplished musician who attended the legendary Hollywood high school in the 1930's where she was accompanist to many of the child movie stars of that era.

Once she was able to come with us to Hawaii for the Holidays and thoroughly enjoyed herself. Just last week, in need of some cheering up she pulled out the Henry Kapono CD I had purchased for her.

She remembered the moonlit night in the little town of Waimea when Henry sang directly to her and the other Tutu's in the audience. It makes her smile whenever she thinks of "Tell me Why?" a love song he wrote for his wife. It causes my mother to think of my Dad who passed eight years ago.

When Kealii Reichel came to Portland Oregon where my Mom lives, we bought tickets and attended what proved to be a therapeutic concert by this charismatic performer. Already fans, we were not ready for what I have learned happens at the end of many Hawaiian shows.

The audience rises and holds hands and sings a song that is a kind of a Hawaiian anthem. It doesn't matter if you don't know the Hawaiian words, because no one could fail to grasp the message of Aloha.

TIEING IT TOGETHER:

So what does all this have to do with vacation rentals, or lodging or hospitality? Only this: hospitality is a rewarding and enjoyable activity.

We retain our right to have visitors and guests in our homes because sharing what we have with others is a pleasure and a joy. It's not always easy of course.

But if so many people in Hawaii rely on tourism to support their beautiful land and can do such a wonderful job, then there is room for the rest of us to participate also.

Let's hope we can do as good a job as most in Hawaii do.

Mele Kalikimaka & Haouli Makahiki Hou.

(Merry Christmas & Happy New Year)

------------------

INPUT:

As always I seek your input. Please share your tips, techniques, compliments, and complaints on this or any other subject by writing me at Office@Vrai.org.

HOME OF THE WEEK:

There are wonderful vacation homes everywhere. Lake Tenkiller is the clear water paradise of eastern Oklahoma. And Dale Wemhaner's Five Oak's Manor is a stately and beautiful home. Take a look at www.TenkillerSolutions.com. (If you want your place considered for Home of the Week please drop me an email.)

FEEDBACK:

Thanks for the great newsletters. I have learned a lot just by reading them and we have been in business since 1994. - David, Bryson City NC

Well you've been at it longer than I have. So its my job to gather info from all owners and help share it with others. - Wm. May

ONLINE:

Please see these websites for fun:

- www.KealiiReichel.com

- www.mele.com/Farewell/tribute.htm (Bruddah Iz)

- www.IRH.com (Internet Radio Hawaii, Hawaiian Music 24 hours a day)

Read more Leave comments

Author: William May, MayPartners Advertising
Blog #: 0039 – 12/22/03

Christmas in Hawaii

By William May
Published: 12/15/03 Topics: Comments: 0

Mele Kalikimaka Haouli Makahiki Hou (Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from Hawaii). There are many wonderful reasons for owning a vacation home. But my favorite is the way ownership allows people to make another place home. And I don't mean just a nice place to eat and sleep. Instead, if you are lucky, you can sink into the local neighborhood and culture. And you can help your guests do the same.

Friday we jet off to Kauai to celebrate Christmas, New Years and - yes - to work on the rental homes. For my family that home away from home is Hawaii. And more specifically Poipu Beach on the Island of Kauai.

We do own homes at a lake and a ski area in Washington State also. They are wonderful places that we love for different reasons. But I figure I was accidentally born to english/german parents in Washington State because, deep down, I feel Hawaiian. Several years ago I decided it was my home town. After all, who says where you are born must be your home town. Maybe the place you feel more at home should be your home town.

How It Started:

27 years ago my soon to be wife convinced me we should honeymoon in Hawaii. The idea didn't hold much appeal because my brain was flooded with a stereotypical vision of grass skirted women doing the tourist hula accompanied by toy ukulele's. At the time, I considered myself more of an adventurer who would be bored stiff sitting on the beach drinking a maitai with thousands of other pale skinned tourists.

Boy was I wrong!

From the moment I got off the plane in Lihue Kauai in 1976, at what was then a small open-air airport, something changed. I slowed down. Way down. Everywhere I looked people were smiling at me. It felt like the twilight zone. How could so many people act so happy? At first I thought they had been trained to be courteous - as workers are at many tourist destinations. It took several return trips before I began to learn more about Aloha and the Hawaiian Culture. The Hawaiian people have a long history of accommodation which has been continually augmented by the culture of peoples from China, Japan, Puerto Rico and the Philippines who were brought in as workers beginning 200 years ago.

Hawaii is the most isolated major island group on the globe, the population is one of the most diverse and one of the most religious (Christian and other). The concept of "Ohana" (recently celebrated in the Disney cartoon Lilo and Stitch), permeates every race and every culture that has come to Hawaii. Almost everyone participates in politics and local government the island being, of course, much like a small town where people know their neighbors and politicians. Perhaps most important, central to the thinking of every citizen of Hawaii, whether of Hawaiian blood or not, is music, dance and the spirit of Aloha.

Plus of course the wonderful climate that hovers around 80 degrees year round. There are only two states in the US that have never recorded a temperature of 100 degrees or hotter. One is Alaska and the other, surprise, is Hawaii. No house has a furnace and most do not have air conditioning. Cooling trade winds blow 85% of the time giving the place that kind of euphoric feel and smell that every Hollywood movie tries to capture in their version of paradise.

SPIRIT OF ALOHA:

Even if you have never been to Hawaii you have undoubtedly heard the world Aloha. If you've been there once or twice you've noticed it being used in almost every conversation. "Alooooooha" - it is often used, almost without thought, to lure a tourist into a store or to entertain an audience. But to "Kamaaina" (natives or long time citizens) Aloha is much more.

Better writers than I have stumbled when trying to adequately describe Aloha. You may have been told that Aloha means Hello, and Goodbye and Love. And it does. But it also a deep spiritual understanding pervasive to the entire society.

Queen Lili`uokalani (The last queen of Hawaii, 1838-1917) said, "Aloha was a recognition of life in another. If there was life there was mana, goodness and wisdom, and if there was goodness and wisdom there was a god-quality. No Hawaiian could greet another with 'Aloha' unless he felt it in his own heart. If he felt anger or hate in his heart he had to cleanse himself before he said 'Aloha'."

Now that is a pretty tall order for most of us to achieve with Guests. But I think it's a good goal for any of us who offer our homes to others. Hawaiians aren't perfect either but by infusing Aloha into their lives it sure looks like they are trying to be.

So it is my thinking that the people of Hawaii have become some of the most generous, warm, considerate and kind people in the world mostly because they have a focus. In some strange way it is what in business today is labeled a "Mission Statement." A wise man once said, "If you don't know where you're going, that is exactly where you'll get." Hawaiians have the distinct privilege of being given a clear and concise goal from the time they are born. To live with a spirit of Aloha. It is this that I admire so much.

Management by Aloha:

Only if you are born there or are lucky enough to spend time there does the true meaning of Aloha become clear. It has been a mantra of the corporate world to operate "Management by Objective." MBO dictates that organizations decide what they want to do before they attempt to do it. And, more importantly, that each and every task in the group be directed to accomplishing the goal. This in itself is a worthy concept but has sometimes been taken to extremes that cause managers and employees to subject their lives and families to conditions that are unhealthy.

Some years ago when Hawaiian tourism was suffering a down turn, a professor from the University of Hawaii's hotel management program wrote a book that I happened to come across in a bookstore. (I have forgotten the exact title and his name, but will provide it next week). He made the comment that there are many great destinations in the world with bright sun, white sand beaches and inviting teal oceans. So why should visitors prefer Hawaii? The answer, he said, is that Hawaii has something that no one else has - Hawaii has Aloha.

His suggestion was that Hawaiian hotel properties, often owned by off islanders, should embrace the spirit of Aloha, feature it in their lodging and, in fact, allow it to run throughout their operations. He said employees should be allowed some of the work week to display hand made crafts. They should be encouraged to entertain or sing for guests. Staff "Keiki" (children) should be allowed to come to work with their parents on special occasions. The hotels that embraced the concept were soon enjoying greater occupancies and glowing comments from guests. A trend that continues to this day.

In the past when I have mentioned his concept to groups unfamiliar with Hawaii it has sometimes brought giggles from the audience because he called his concept "Management by Aloha." But if you remember that Aloha is a very powerful mission statement, but one that is based in deep interpersonal values, you can understand why MBA is so successful. It is Management by Objective but with a much deeper and profound foundation.

Although each vacation rental home is in fact a very small business, working to greet guests and make them feel at home is a worthy goal that could make any home in any location produce more revenue and enjoyment for the owners as well.

Next Week:

If you'll indulge me, next week I will be telling you a few of our hometown Hawaii stories. Experiences I would have missed had it not been for the opportunity to own vacation homes and live at least least part of my life there. They allow me to sink into the community, to get to know people, to leave one world behind and enjoy another. It is my pleasure to have more than one hometown and all the joy that comes with that. I'll be telling you about:

- The Friendly Fisherman
- Lau lau for Christmas Dinner
- Songs about tutu
- Free Guava Pie
- Brudda Iz
- The Hawaiian anthem

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Input:

As always I seek your input. Please share your tips, techniques, compliments, and complaints on this or any other subject by writing me at Office@Vrai.org

Home of the Week:

Overlooking downtown San Diego you'll find Foxwood Suites just minutes from all the beautiful sites and activities San Diego offers! Owner Darrin Fuchs offers exclusive accommodations for vacation, business and even the military traveler. Take a look at (FoxwoodSuites.com)FoxwoodSuites.com. (If you want your place considered for Home of the Week please drop me an email.)

FEEDBACK:

Hey,Great newsletter this week for a newbie who is still trying to get ready for a spring 2004 opening.
- Deeanna, Penrose Colorado

Hey, back at you Dee. Good luck with your opening. Its fun to get things rolling and even more fun when its under control.
- Wm. May

Online:

Please see these websites for fun:
-(Melekalikimaka.com)Melekalikimaka.com
- (SheetMusicPlus.com)SheetMusicPlus.com
- (IRH.com)IRH.com (Internet Radio Hawaii, Hawaiian Music 24 hours a day)

For Fun:

P.S. Want to sing a Hawaiian Christmas Carol?

"Mele Kalikimaka" was written by R. Alex Anderson who from high school to his death in 1995 composed nearly 200 songs. He wrote the song in 1949 and it may have been first recorded in about 1950 by Bing Crosby with the Andrews Sisters. It was a big hit. You can find the sheet music for Mele Kalikimaka at http://www.sheetmusicplus.com or buy recordings of it at http://www.mele.com.

The Words:

Mele Kalikimaka
Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say,
On a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day,
That's the island greeting that we send to you
From the land where palm trees sway,
Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright,
The sun to shine by day and all the stars at night,
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii's way
To say "Merry Christmas to you."

Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say,
On a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day,
That's the island greeting that we send to you
From the land where palm trees sway,
Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright,
The sun to shine by day and all the stars at night,
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii's way
To say, "Merry Christmas,
A very Merry Christmas to you."

Read more Leave comments

Author: William May, MayPartners Advertising
Blog #: 0038 – 12/15/03

DETAILS: We work to keep this information up to date, but details do change from time to time based on circumstances, often on short notice, and sometimes beyond our control. To verify any answer or other information you may need, please call or email us anytime. Allow a reasonable amount of time for response. Only legitimate inquiries will be answered.

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