Condo-Hotels: A Beginner’s Guide


Like many real estate investors, we want to invest our hard-earned money into a property which we can rent out in order to take advantage of appreciation and rental income.  However, if you are an offshore investor, you may wish to enjoy your property and occupy it from time-to-time. After all, it is your piece of paradise! Condo-hotels are fantastic options when considering the foregoing scenario.  The following will provide a summary of the advantages and disadvantages to owning a condo-hotel and some notable condo-hotels in and around Waikiki.



Condo-Hotels Are Easier To Manage:

Condo-hotels are a “hands-off” investment.  As an investor in a condo-hotel, you have the option of not needing to involve yourself in the exhausting management of a short-term vacation rental.  Hotel pool programs not only manage your property for short-term rentals, but will also maintain the property. For example, hotel cleaning services will change out linens, vacuum, make repairs, provide income statements, file your general excise tax and transient accommodation tax and more.

You Can Stay In Your Unit:

If you decide that you want a vacation and wish to stay in your property, the hotel pool will ensure that the unit is vacant during your stay. As long as sufficient notice has been provided to the hotel staff, management will ensure that the unit is prepared and ready to accommodate you.  

Additional Perks:

Of course, you will have full access to enjoy the hotel’s amenities.  In addition, depending on the program, some hotels may offer discounts to owners who wish to stay in a separate room while their unit is rented.  If you decide that you wish to keep your unit rented, this scenario can be convenient for you.



Rental Yields Are Volatile:

Since profitability of your rental property largely depends on how frequently you can rent out your property, fluctuations in tourism largely affect your success.  Because there are busier seasons, some months may show a positive cash flow while other months are negative. In many cases, a long-term rental may provide a long-term profit and higher yield than short-term rental properties.  Always be sure to review the income statements before making a decision to buy. Remember, because your prospective investment is also a hotel, having the best view may significantly improve your income.

Additional fees:

It is not uncommon for a multitude of fees to be deducted from your rental income.  Hotels will require that the owner split approximately half of the proceeds with the hotel program.  In addition, hotel and resort zoned properties are charged a significantly higher property tax rate than a typical residential property tax.  Many times, resort zoned properties are more than double what residential zone properties are charged. In addition, the State of Hawaii requires owners to pay a Transient Accommodation Tax and General Excise Tax.

Appreciation Rates:

Condo-hotels are not prevalent outside of Waikiki.  In this regard, condo-hotels are not a one-size-fits-all investment.  Due to hotel policies and lifestyle, condo-hotels usually attract a certain demographic of investor. This is, in part, one reason why appreciation rates for some condo-hotels are not as high as other types of properties on the island.



There are a number of different actions you can take to evaluate whether or not a condo-hotel is for you.  Here are some considerations you can make:

  • Review the hotel pool agreement: If you decide that you want to place your property in a hotel pool, you will want to know exactly what is required and what policies are enforced;
  • Review the subject property’s income statements: It is helpful to know how often the unit you are interested was occupied for the year, and what the gross and net amounts are.  This will give you an idea if you will have a positive or negative cash flow;
  • Review the building’s sales history: Has there been appreciation over time? Was there a significant dip in the sales price?  Why? These questions are important as they may provide some indication of how your values may perform in the future;
  • Inquire about the most occupied units: If possible, it is helpful to know which units are in highest demand.  This may ensure that your unit is occupied more frequently which will result in more income.



With the numerous condo-hotels in Waikiki, it is difficult to know which one best fits your needs.  Please refer to the following list of different properties worth considering:


  • Trump Hotel
  • Ilikai Hotel
  • Ritz Carlton Residences
  • Waikiki Banyan
  • Waikiki Beach Tower

Below $500,000

  • Palms At Waikiki
  • Aqua Surf Hotel
  • Hawaiian Monarch
  • Marine Surf Hotel


About the Author

Brandon Lau grew up in Kailua and currently resides in Honolulu with his wife Andee and children Caylah, Elijah, and David. His eighteen years in real estate led him to become a Partner at ChaneyBrooks Choice Advisors. Over the past 10 years he has developed the team and systems that has created a high level of service and value for his clients.

What differentiates Brandon and his team is his consultative approach to real estate. He advises clients with relevant data and expert insight to help them make the best choices in real estate. Good choices in planning for long term dispositions, negotiating for the best price or knowing when not to pursue an investment are ways his consultative services will give you an advantage in the marketplace. His bottom line is providing service with the utmost integrity and expertise.