Hawaii vacation rentals

Vacasa Hawaii Vacation Rentals Plight: Low Satisfaction, High Fees

We felt stung when we checked vacation rentals in Hawaii and found that even on five or more day rentals, fees and taxes in most cases were about equal to or more than the actual rental cost. Depending on the cost of the nightly rental, that can be a big sticker shock. Now, Vacasa Hawaii vacation rentals have returned to the news again, due in part to company changes and the loud response we received in comments from readers. This is buyer beware, and our advice is to check with other vacation rental companies before deciding who to book through.

Vacasa grew to become Hawaii’s largest short-term rental company. That has subsided somewhat. According to the numbers shown on their website, they have lost nearly 25% of the rentals they manage, maintain, and market in Hawaii since last year. Vacasa has been troubled since 2022, when they first warned about many issues that sent shareholders, homeowners and renters running. Their stock sits near a 52-week low at $7.56.

What readers said about Vacasa Hawaii vacation rentals.

“Extremely poor customer service and paying top dollar for a tired, deferred maintenance room. No wonder the company is doing poorly. Hospitality success is dependent upon Happy customers. There will always be some negative reviews no matter what, but 2 out of 5 is a recipe for failure.”

“If the way they handled our booking is any indication, they should lose market share. They are not honest, failed to disclose information about our reservation in Maui, completely ruining our expensive vacation. Property was under significant renovation, odors from sealants made us stay inside, but the noise from hammers and saws from the apartment next door was unbearable.”

“Have you checked hotel rates lately? Most short-term rentals are still half the price for double the space, at least on Maui. South Maui hotel rates are over $1100 per night! Who cares about fees – it’s the value of what you get for the total price that matters.”

Most recent developments at Vacasa Hawaii vacation rentals.

In the past week, Vacasa announced plans to lay off 320 more staff as it grapples with significant ongoing challenges in both the Hawaii vacation rental industry and globally. The company’s letter to its shareholders along with its quarterly financial results revealed that its 2024 outlook is fraught with difficulties, including a softening demand for domestic vacation rentals and anticipation of weak bookings at least through the first half of the year. This also coincides with a slowdown in Hawaii travel.

Over 1,800 employees terminated since 2023.

Vacasa has grown fast here in Hawaii since it started in 2009. But now, challenges at the company, including cost overruns and customer dissatisfaction, plague the once darling of Hawaii vacation rentals. In total, more than 1,800 staff have been terminated since last year.

Vacasa’s future remains cloudy in a rapidly devolving Hawaii vacation rental landscape.

Checking Yelp reviews of Vacasa Hawaii, the company’s ratings sank from 2.5 out of 5 last year to just 1.4 out of 5 this year, signaling another clear warning. Google reviews on Vacasa Hawaii came in last year at 2.1, and they are 1.8 as of today.

Vacasa charges owners up to 35% of gross rentals for their services.

Their system worked well initially because property owners not on-island were offered a hands-free way to operate. That type of ownership has swiftly fallen out of favor as Hawaii grapples with its severe housing shortage and significant off-island vacation rental ownership.

Are you planning to book a vacation rental in Hawaii?

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11 thoughts on “Vacasa Hawaii Vacation Rentals Plight: Low Satisfaction, High Fees”

  1. Vacasa laid off 320 employees in February.

    Per a recent town hall with the CEO, he said they are planning to hire 320 seasonal employees and will hire more if need be. So why did they let go 320?

    Everytime they lay off people they hire more people to replace that same number of people or pay to equal to the people laid off (like last year).

  2. This is to everyone: Yes, I too was a happy individual condo owner on Maui- I managed it totally on my own for 8 years. I was a superhost on Airbnb and won awards on Booking.com because of my treatment of the guests, how I kept my condo and the great location of my complex. However, getting vendors and locals to help me maintain my condo started to get difficult. So, I chose Vacasa. The Local team is wonderful- I get great service. The marketing and booking managemeng has holes and I usually am booked through the year by February and now I have No Bookings > may have to go back to my own processes.

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  3. 1 year ago, I’d heard that Vacasa was going bankrupt, so called about my family reservation of a house in central Waimea, Big Island. Great customer service: although we got moved to a Waikoloa condo near the ocean, it was wonderful. Nearly new, great furnishings, very quiet, awesome views, and much closer to our Luau anyway. So my last Vacasa rental: August, 2023, I’d have to say was 5-Stars. “Seriously” pleased the entire family !!

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  4. In my opinion companies such as Vacasa sheds a poor light on STR industry as a whole. Their fees seems high but they have to cover the booking manager, maintenance, supervisors who oversight housekeeping, supervisors for community properties, off hours phone lines and the list goes on. But if you tried to book at a hotel you pay the same and or more as it is all inclusive in the nightly cost of the room. Hotels in my opinion frown on STR as it cuts into their revenues. Vacasa just grew too fast and did not have the initial infrastructure to support its growth. Let’s cheer them onto success.

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  5. Mahalo, just finished a nine day stay at a Vacasa property on Maui. The Pacific Shores condo units in Kehei. A New condo is being built next door and every morning at 7 am, Noise! The constant beep, beep, beep was just short of maddening. No mention from Vacasa that this was going to be what greeted us. Quiet Hawaiian vacation not possible here! Holding a conversation on the lanai, no way! Unit itself really showing it’s age. Couldn’t park in assigned spot due to construction vehicles. TV remote needed replaced but all we got was new batteries, a temporary fix that lasted three days. I complained more than once which netted a very small reimbursement. Will not be back. There has to be better places and probably less expensive. Mahalo.

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    1. Hi Mike.

      Sorry to hear that your Vacasa rental in Kihei didn’t work out better! We appreciate your many comments.

      Aloha.

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  6. I am a STVR owner. I manage my own, so I don’t have to bump my rates up 25% to cover outrageous management fees. I am priced reasonably because I want to be an affordable alternative for folks who can’t afford a stay in Hawai’i. But I also offer great amenities to assure a great stay. I currently have a score of 9.7 out of 10 on Booking. When you treat guests like that you have happy customers.

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  7. In my humble opinion, it isn’t fair to solely put the blame on Vacasa for poor experiences. We’re they the ones doing the remodeling next door in Maui? I know they weren’t, because we did a total gut and remodel of our studio at Kona Bali Kai last year (not Vacasa). This was after numerous complaints about the condition of our old unit, which was solely on us. It’s up to owners to keep their units in good condition as well. Where Vacasa could use improvement is in communication.

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    1. Unfortunately, they created their own problem when the exorbinant fees bring down the value of the places they rent. When I rent an STVR I put up with small idiosyncracies when the price is reasonable. When you rent a Yugo for the price of a Cadillac you have higher expectations and disappointments.

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  8. First of all I would like to say I love the people of Hawaii. Now I think some of the people you have elected are not it touch with you the people of Hawaii they want to tax tax tax everything and add fees to everything and that will solve everything. I hope in the future you may move on and realize what is good and what is not.
    May you all have a great day and I hope some day I can return to the Beautiful Hawaii I remember not the one of today.. I know it is tough but
    God Bless

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  9. We pay our local Hanalei broker 20% gross of our rent collected. She runs a tight ship. handles all the reservations, collections, cancellations, minor maintenance issues that may arise when we are not here, house cleaners, and so forth. Pays all our utility bills, gets the windows cleaned (needs to happen a lot next to the ocean). I deal with all the bigger maintenance issues when we are here, or remotely, since after 15 years, I have a network of people that are usually reliable.

    One of our neighbors went with Vacasa – I think when Bali Hai did some sort of deal a few years back? I suspect they regret that choice.

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