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Named as one of the hottest summer destinations for 2022, Hawaii is the embodiment of a luxury travel destination. A paradise on earth that only a fortunate few will experience during their lifetime

With its astounding natural scenery of active volcanoes, emerald valleys, golden sands and the glittering Pacific Ocean; a trip to Hawaii is a truly special and cathartic experience. 

The sheer beauty of the place is combined with the wonderful warmth of the Aloha spirit, and its location – 2-3000 kms adrift in the Pacific Ocean – lends to its air of exclusivity.

Although Hawaii is a state in the Western United States, Japan is the closest country to the archipelago making it a popular destination with elite Japanese tourists.

Indeed, it’s considered as one of the most expensive ‘Sun and Sea’ destinations with  accommodation rates amongst the most expensive in the world. The Hawaiian island of Maui is also known as the Beverly Hills of Hawaii and is listed as the third most expensive destination in the world.

With the high profile of clientele visiting Hawaii it’s no surprise that the quality of ultra-luxury private accommodation is very high. 

Did you know Hawaii is home to the only Royal Palace in the US? This gives you some idea of the clientele that frequents the islands. 

What’s more, with recent talks on restrictions of the construction of hotels and lodgings on Maui it could suggest that existing luxury accommodation prices may increase, making the destination even more exclusive. 

Hawaii’s luxury vacation rental market

Hale ‘Ae Kai managed by Pure Kauai – video courtesy: l’Horizon des Événements

The Island of Kauai is a favoured destination for UHNW travellers booking luxury short-term accommodation in Hawaii and it’s the location for possibly the most exclusive, or perhaps the most talked about luxury private accommodation on the islands, Hale ‘Ae Kai

Featured on Netflix’s The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals, the beautiful Balinese-inspired masterpiece is set in 15,000 acres and rent starts from $15,000 a night. 

Hale ‘Ae Kai currently holds the title of the most expensive home ever sold in Hawaii, hitting the market at $70,000,000 in 2017. It boasts a private path to the Secret Beach, an infinity-edge pool and spa, wet bar and state-of-the-art media room.

Another magnificent private estate available for short-term rent is the Waterfalling Estate. This oceanfront compound is nestled on a clifftop along the Big Island’s breathtaking Hamakua Coast. The celebrity hideaway boasts a private waterfall, a personal 9-tee golf course, a resort-quality tennis stadium, and a 16-foot deep Olympic pool with a two-story waterslide! Rentals rates start from US $4,000 per night. 

Hawaii luxury rental rates

Luxury private accommodation rental rates in Hawaii start from around US $4,000 per night and ultra-luxury rental rates from $7,500 per night.

James Tanaka on the luxury rental market in Hawaii

The iconic Paul Mitchell Estate on Oahu.

I wanted to get a deeper insight into the luxury private accommodation sector in Hawaii; how it has developed over the years and what UHNW travellers look for in a vacation to Hawaii. 

I was privileged to speak to James Tanaka of the landmark Paul Mitchell Estate on the island of Oahu.

“The luxury vacation rental industry throughout the main islands is a well established one. I was first introduced to the industry in 2006 and the market has been growing and evolving ever since. It plateaued due to the pandemic and state and county restrictions but we are slowly seeing a return to normality.”

Is there a correlation between luxury hotel and rental stays in Hawaii?

“There really is no comparison as they present two very distinct products, each favoured in their own way by varying guest profiles; and each with its unique pros and cons.  

The biggest drawbacks for UHNW guests of a hotel stay is the lack of privacy, no allowance or facilities for larger groups to congregate and the hotels are mostly located in resort areas, which many elite travellers wish to avoid.

On the other hand, a luxury private accommodation such as what we offer at Paul Mitchell Estate offers privacy, space, autonomy and often a better price for family and group stays.”

Who are the players in Hawaii’s luxury rental market?

“This depends on the island but very few owners manage their own properties here. Leading luxury rentals companies include Pure Kauai who manage Hale ‘Ae Kai amongst other luxury private accommodations; Elite Pacific and Hawaiian Villa Rentals on Oahu and Maui-based Hawaii Hideaways and Exotic Estates.

Airbnb Luxe is also a key player but its inventory in Hawaii was significantly greater when it was the independent, Luxury Retreats. Its decrease is due to platform limitations and location regulations in Hawaii.”

Does Paul Mitchell Estate have a guest profile?

“We are guest profile free! Our guests come from varied and diverse backgrounds. They are predominantly travelling from North America and Canada and we welcome back many guests who are regular visitors to Hawaii and to the Paul Mitchell Estate.

Over the years, we have hosted a former US President and a who’s who of celebrity guests, including Mariah Carey, Kobe Bryant, Jim Carrey, and Rhianna, amongst countless others.”

What are guest expectations for a luxury stay in Hawaii?

“Hawaii isn’t unique in terms of luxury guest preferences. Our guests expect a high standard of accommodation, including materials, decor, style, maintenance & cleanliness.

They want to be ocean or beachfront. At the very least, they will expect a fantastic ocean view if they are not located right on the water.  

The accommodation should be located within a reasonable distance to shops, restaurants and activities, and the property should be secure, preferably with an alarm system, gated entry and some level of privacy on the ocean side. 

High profile clients require privacy from all sides.

James Tanaka

“The property should have a heated pool, hot tub, preferably a gym, fully air-conditioned, fully equipped kitchen with high-end appliances, flat screen TVs including in every bedroom, music sound system preferably throughout the property or at least in shared living areas and high tech standards such as high speed internet & wi-fi, cable & apple tv (or smart tvs). 

Concierge services should be available to help coordinate all their needs including restaurant/activity reservations, on site services, transportation, etc.

While many UHNW guests may desire to have an on demand maintenance service, the industry standard in Hawaii is that service will be handled at least the next day if the call is made after business hours, unless it’s an emergency.  Some properties have better response times depending on the property management.” 

Newly launched: Travel to Hawaii in style from the West Coast, US

UHNW travellers from the West Coast US can now book a semi-private charter from Los Angeles, San Jose and Seattle to fly to their favourite luxury private accommodation in Hawaii. Members-only air shuttle company, ROAM Maui is offering flights between the West Coast and Maui via their membership program.

The islands of Hawaii are arguably one of the most gorgeous destinations in the world. Frequented by world leaders and politicians, film stars and A-list celebrities who want to experience a little slice of heaven on earth. 

Luxury private accommodation is the choice for many elite travellers who seek exclusivity, privacy, space and a privileged location during their stay.