For many condominium hotels or frequently referred to as "condo hotels" are unknown terms. A condo hotel is basically a location where you rent a condominium for a number of nights exactly like you do a standard hotel room. Accommodations vary from the very elaborate to a very basic room with a small kitchen. In Hawaii there are actually more condo hotels (172) than standard hotels and resorts (132).
Condo Hotels According to the State of Hawaii
The State of Hawaii defines a Condo Hotel as "a multi-unit property legally classified as a condominium with each unit individually deeded. Generally, units are collectively placed into transient hotel rental operations, offering most of the services of a hotel, such as daily maid service and front desk operations. Condominium units are usually larger than hotel units and include studios and one- to three-bedroom units, with kitchen and laundry facilities, geared for transient use of 30 days or less."
Kitchen (and Laundry) are Keys
The inclusion of a kitchen (and laundry facility) in each unit is the key for saving money by staying in a condo hotel.
There are no two ways about it, food is expensive in Hawaii. For a couple visiting the islands and eating all meals in restaurants, your food bill can easily equal or exceed your room cost. I enjoy a meal at a good restaurant as much as anybody, but I don't need to eat out every day for every meal. By staying at a condo hotel, you have a great option.
Just by going to a local grocery store and buying food for breakfast alone, you can easily save over $200 in restaurant costs per week. If you don't believe that, just look at the breakfast menu at almost any hotel. A $15-$20 breakfast per person is not unusual.
In many cases, you'll be out roaming the islands during the day. Why not pack a lunch? It's much cheaper to make your own sandwich and keep it in an inexpensive cooler than to eat at a restaurant or fast food place. You'll likely not only save some money but eat healthier too.
Drawbacks of Condo Hotels
What are the drawbacks? If you're looking for the true resort experience, you may be disappointed in a condo hotel. Many offer only weekly housekeeping services and most have smaller staff on site to "service your every need." You'll probably have to get your luggage to your room on your own, for example.
Since many units are individually owned the quality can vary from unit to to unit within the same building. Also, since many units are individually owned, you'll likely have to either pay for your stay in advance or leave a deposit on a credit card. Cancellation policies are often more strict.
My Favorite Condo Hotels
Many of the hospitality companies I mentioned when discussing hotel specials and packages also operate condo hotels.
With 19 properties throughout the islands Outrigger Hotels and Resorts is the undisputed leader in condo hotels throughout the islands of Hawaii (Big Island), Kaua'i, Maui and O'ahu.
On O'ahu the Outrigger Waikiki Shore Resort is one of my favorites. It's right on the ocean next to Fort DeRussy Park and just a few steps from the new and exciting Waikiki Beach Walk area.
Aston Hawaii is right on Outrigger's heels with 16 all-suite condominium resorts throughout the islands. Many of their properties have been upgraded in recent years.
On Kaua'i I really enjoyed my stay at the Aston at Poipu Kai a lovely condominium resort on 70 acres in sunny Poipu, Kauai with Brennecke's and Shipwreck Beach just a stroll away.
The Napili Kai Beach Resort on Maui is offering not only a fourth or fifth night free, but also a great deal which includes a 6th and 7th night free as well as free meals for children 12 and under. Read our review of the Napili Kai Beach Resort.
The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas is located in the Princeville Resort on Kaua'i. While technically a vacation ownership (timeshare) property, they do rent units to the general public so I'm including them here. The units do come with fully equipped kitchenettes with glass cook top, microwave/convection oven, full-size refrigerator and dishwasher as well as washer and dryer. Read our review of The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas.
They have a sister property on Maui, The Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas where I've stayed and had a wonderful time. Both properties have a number of specials for the fall and winter 2008 including one with a third night free, daily Breakfast buffet for two and a guaranteed unit upgrade. Read our review of The Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas.
As you can see, a condo hotel is definitely worth considering when planning your Hawaii vacation this fall and winter. It's a great way to save some money and, in many cases, enjoy all the comforts of home.
More Articles in this Series
Part 3 - Cheap Eats in Hawaii
Part 5 - Renting a Car in Hawaii
Part 8 - Free in Hawaii