Last summer, we stayed in this condo for just three days. We had such a great time and felt there was much more of the Big Island left to explore, that we returned for a full week in August. Last summer, we were there over the July 4 holiday (phenomenal fireworks, BTW); this year, we vacationed Aug 1 - Aug 9. What a difference a month (and a year) makes. This year, I need to downgrade my review by 1 star (it would be 1.5 stars, if that were possible).
My biggest complaint is noise - lots and lots and lots of noise. Evidently, Hawaiian students return to school the first week of August, and the corner (Ali'i Dr. and Makolea St.) directly below this condo is a bus stop for elementary and junior high school kids. Every weekday morning at 6.30am, we were woken up by the noise of dozens of shouting, screaming, and yelling children. They begin to gather at 6.30am on the corner - there appeared to be only 1 adult hanging around, and she did nothing to keep the noise down. Many of the cars pull up with radios blaring and adults shouting as well. The first bus picks up at 7.00am, which brings about half the kids running from down the hill, jumping off the walls where they climb, and tearing out of vacant lot across the street. The other half of the extremely loud kids are picked up at 7.30am. It's like trying to sleep in the middle of a playground. The master bedroom windows and the lanai are directly above and across this bus stop, and even with all of the blinds pulled, there's no way to block any of this early morning noise.
I understand that some of the locals resent tourists, and I don't expect to be revered for my vacation money. What really bothered me about this is that this condo is a residence for many people, not just rental units, so the school children and their parents show zero regard for the people living -- and trying to sleep past the crack of dawn -- in this residential area. Full disclosure: I have a 6 year old and an 8 year old, and I couldn't deal with the amount of noise made right outside my window every day for a week (nor would I ever allow my kids to run rampant like that in the early morning hours outside someone's house, but we all have different expectations).
My second complaint is the cleanliness of the condo. It is still lovely and well appointed, and, for a family of 4, having a second bedroom and second full bath is absolutely necessary. However, it should've been cleaned more thoroughly; there was mold on the walls of the master shower, someone else's bobby pins left in the shower pan, and the fixtures needed to be scrubbed. It also seems a little run down. Of course things get rusty by the ocean, but they should be replaced when that happens, like the tension-rod shower caddies. There are nicks in the wall that need to be re-painted, and some of those nicks that have been repainted don't match. These are small complaints, to be sure, but don't exactly scream "luxury." The couch and the chairs in the living room are spectacularly uncomfortable, but the kitchen stools make for good seating.
Of course, the best place to hang out is on the lanai. There's a great patio set that's very comfortable -- and the view of Kahalu'u is amazing. The best part is you can see how crowded the beach is getting and run right across the street to claim your spot bright and early (extra early, if you can't sleep through the bus stop noise).
Many things about this condo are wonderful. The beds are clean and comfortable, the pillows abundant. The kitchen has everything you'd need to cook all meals, the appliances all function properly, and there are more dishes and utensils than you'd need. There are TVs in each room, but we didn't turn them on - I assume they work. The washer and dryer work fine, and the owner very thoughtfully provides detergent and dryer sheets. The pool is great, too -- my kids especially love that there's a turtle-shaped seat in the middle of it; it's clean and safe.
The location on Ali'i Dr. can't be beat (apart from the bus stop). Of course, it's right across the street from "Turtle Beach," so excellent snorkeling is in your front yard. BTW, this is a great place for kids to try snorkeling -- getting in is a little tricky, but there's a sandy path through the lava rocks and it stays very shallow. The water is pretty calm, and there are TONS of gorgeous tropical fish and even a sea turtle or two. The condo is fairly central to everything on the Big Island. It's about a 10 minute drive from Kailua Village, the main shopping and dining center in Kona. It's about a 5 minute drive from the Keauhou shopping center, which includes a KTA grocery store and a nice little indie bookstore. And it's about 2.5 hours from the other major spots on the island, including Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Center.
I must repeat: The ungodly bus stop noise was not at all a problem when we were here last July. I heartily recommend staying in this condo as long as school is not in session, you can sleep through an hour of screaming children, or you're an early riser and won't mind the noise. EVERYTHING else about this condo is pretty much fantastic, especially if the cleaning service works a little more thoroughly.
One other note: We never received a new email from the rental guy (not the owner) with the lockbox code for the key. Our emails and phones calls placed when we landed in Honolulu and then Kona were not returned. Luckily, my husband still had the code from the email sent last summer, and luckier still, the code hadn't changed. Needless to say, this was stressful. So make sure you have the lockbox key before you leave home!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Beach Villas represent the first new beach front condo constructed on Alii Drive in the last 20 years. These villas are large, luxurious, designer decorated and have all the amenities you desire - infinity pool, spa, gas barbecue, central air conditioning, plasma TV, Bose surround sound, and free long distance telephone service to name a few. If you are looking for access to the beach with all the modern conveniences of home, look no further. You have found the ultimate vacation destination!!! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Beach Villas At Kahalu`u Hotel Kailua-Kona
- The Beach Villas At Kahalu'u Hawaii/Kailua-Kona