Hawaii vacation specialists give the scoop on condo bookings

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NEW YORK -- Travel Weekly asked three travel agents who specialize in Hawaii vacations to give readers the inside scoop on booking clients into condos.

Angie Borrelli, with RT Peak Travel Group in San Jose, Calif., and Deepak Patel, owner of Carlson Wagonlit/Contrail Travel in Chicago, shared their experiences and advice.

"Condominiums tend to provide more of a home feeling. And we find that condos tend to be extremely convenient to everything our clients want to do," said Patel.

"Also, for budgetary reasons, a condo can be more viable. You can save some money -- heat up some lunches, have breakfasts on hand and avoid expensive minibar charges."

According to Patel, the honeymoon and conference markets and senior citizen clientele all tend to take longer trips -- and they prefer to visit two or three islands. "For these situations," she said, "condos work better."

Patel noted that seniors are good candidates for condo stays because they often are budget conscious and sometimes have special dietary needs "and want to cook their own food."

And, she added, "Everyone appreciates being able to make their own coffee in the morning."

RT Peak Travel's Borrelli said she finds families the best fit for condo bookings.

"Not just because of the cooking, but because of the comforts and knowing that they're all together in one place -- and the price for a condo is a lot more attractive, especially for a family of five or six."

Adding that condos generally offer a low-key atmosphere, Borrelli noted that many also offer traditional hotel amenities, such as daily maid service.

"If someone is staying one week on one island, and a week on another, I'd recommend that they stay at least one of these places in a condo," she said.

Condo and time-share developments cultivate the attentions of travel agents with a variety of incentives.

For example, Aston Hotels & Resorts rewards retailers with its Super Travel Agent Rewards (STAR) program.

Travel agents who book clients into any Aston Hotels & Resorts properties in Hawaii are eligible to earn STAR incentive points. A value of one to three points is awarded for each materialized reservation.

Points may be redeemed for accommodations, roundtrip inter-island air on Aloha Airlines and gift certificates for Eddie Bauer, Borders Books and other retailers.

Marc Resorts offers fam trips and travel agent rates.

Through June 30 and from Aug. 21 through Dec. 20, select Marc Resorts Hawaii properties offer less-than-50%-off fam-trip rates to travel agents at properties on Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, and Molokai. Nightly rates range from $40 to $79.

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