Hawaii Condos: Condos Vs. Hotels

Clients may well ask, "Why a condo? What can a condo offer that I can't get from a hotel?" They may insist they have no intention of cooking, and want all the amenities a resort property has to offer. But even so, a condo vacation is not out of the question. Condominium properties come in all shapes and sizes, from two-story garden-style apartment units to high-rise luxury resorts with all the trimmings.

"A condominium resort vacation uses a condominium rather than a hotel for accommodations," said Sally Proctor, senior vice president of Marc Resorts Hawaii. "A condominium -- besides being a legal entity -- means that 'room' is usually more than one room (a separate bedroom) and it also has a complete kitchen."

Even if clients want to eat out every night, they still may find that they appreciate the convenience of a kitchen for that late-night snack or a cup of coffee before heading out to meet the world.

"Why do we need any extra space?" they may insist. "After all, we're going out every night and will be out all day sightseeing." But despite all such good intentions, sometimes after a day of sightseeing people just don't feel like painting the town red. A condominium allows them room to relax and stretch out, to kick back a little and enjoy the good life.

And if the concern is about committing to a full week in one spot when they would rather island hop, they can be reassured that many condominiums can be rented for as few as three or four days.

A condominium offers more room for your money, according to Sandy Frewer, director of sales and marketing for Destination Resorts. A typical one-bedroom condominium offered by Destination Resorts offers more than 1,000 square feet of living space.

Shari Chang, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Castle Hotels & Resorts said, "We promote a home away from home concept when marketing our condominium resorts, with one exception: leave the work to us. Our guests are here to enjoy their well-earned vacation time."

She agreed that one of the advantages to a condominium was the spaciousness of the units. Privacy is another advantage.

"Clients feel they can really unwind and not have to worry about 'dressing up' to go through a hotel lobby or not being able to enjoy staying up late to visit or watch a movie if the kids need to go to bed early.

"Relaxation is the key word," Chang stressed.

"One of the most important things to remember," said Proctor of Marc Resorts, "is that resort condos operate like an all-suite hotel (they have a front desk and maid service) and they have space and a kitchen."

Proctor also said that families are an ideal market for condominium vacations. "There are separate bedrooms and there are dishes, glassware, pots and pans, so some family members can enjoy eating in-suite which saves time, money and makes sure everyone is happy."

Andre Tatibouet, Chairman and CEO, as well as founder of Aston Hotels & Resorts, said, "We've found in the past 50 years of business that resort condominiums appeal to travelers visiting for a longer period of time and to families as an alternative to renting two or more traditional hotel rooms."

Of course, there is a limited supply of condominium accommodations on the market, so they do have to be booked further in advance than a regular hotel room.

Condos present advantages to agents as well. Destination Resorts simplifies the booking process by allowing an agent to book grocery delivery, children's programs and tee times for golf and other activities, all with one phone call.

Destination Resorts also offers travel agent rates from April 16 to Dec. 19, based upon space available. The discount is directly related to the number of bookings they have made.

"Aston feels that agents serve as 'Ambassadors of Aloha,' " said Tatibouet of Aston Hotels & Resorts. Therefore, Aston offers special agent rates, year-round, at all their properties.

In the spring and fall, Aston created special Travel Agent Mahalo Months. For example, in May 1998, travel agents' rates are as low as $25 per night, with a guaranteed upgrade.

Aston also created the Super Travel Agent Reward (STARs) program, which is the only continuing agent incentive program for Hawaii hotels and resort condominiums.

Castle Hotels & Resorts offers a special promotion, exclusively for travel agents who book stays at the Kiahuna Plantation Resort and the Beach Bungalows at Kiahuna.

The promotion includes the Kiahuna Mahalo Gift Program, which will place a Kauai Welcome Amenity in a client's suite, courtesy of the agent, with seven-days advance notice.

There is also a Travel Agent Appreciation Program, which allows agents to earn free nights stays. For every three bookings, an agent earns one free night for himself or family or friends. Call (800) 367-5004 for details.

Castle Resorts & Hotels and Marc Resorts Hawaii both offer 50% discounts to travel agents.

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