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Kihei and Lahaina among top vacation rental spots


Renowned travel site TripAdvisor has named Kihei and Lahaina, Maui, to its Top Vacation Rental Hot Spot list for 2011.

The list is based on search data and input from site editors.

"Vacation rentals can offer families and groups of travelers significant savings over other accommodation options," said Hank Hudepohl, director of vacation rentals, in a statement. "Our list shows off some of the best vacation rental destinations in the U.S. where travelers can save big, ranging from prime summer beach spots to areas with first-rate ski resorts."

Kihei was ranked No. 4, behind Kissimmee, Fla., Big Bear Lake, Calif., and Gatlinburg, Tenn. Destin, Fla., Palm Springs, Calif., and Outer Banks, N.C., ranked fifth, sixth and seventh, followed by No. 8 Lahaina. Hilton Head, S.C., and Cape Cod, Mass., fill out the top 10.

The list cites the number of vacation rentals TripAdvisor lists in each destination as well as the potential savings a family could realize for a weeklong trip.

Despite the high profile of a particular annual vacation rental guest, Kailua, Oahu, is not among TripAdvisor’s top 10. Its site lists only 94 vacation rentals in Kailua and 19 in neighboring Lanikai.

Disaster app shakes newsroom

Moments after the newsroom confirmed an earthquake south of Oahu yesterday, an e-mail popped in from the Maui-based Pacific Disaster Center touting its new "Disaster Alert" app for the Android operating system.

Formerly available only for the iPhone, iTouch or iPad, "Disaster Alert" links users to active hazards tracked by PDC that are "potentially damaging," said Executive Director Ray Shirkhodai. The PDC is a nonprofit, managed by the University of Hawaii under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense.

PDC’s was the first app of its kind. There were previously hazard-specific apps, such as hurricane trackers or wildfire finders, but none that integrated all disaster genres, Shirkhodai said. "We found it astonishing at the time that you could find apps about finding tennis courts but no integrated, live hazard information."

Yesterday’s magnitude-3-and-change earthquake would not have alerted the app to alert you. "Because mobile applications offer a limited display area, we basically filter all of the other smaller incidents (out), then only zoom in on the ones that are potentially hazardous" to life or property. That way the app doesn’t cry "wolf" to its users. If an earthquake is only enough to rattle dishes and jostle nerves, algorithms filter it out.

It is not yet customizable by region of interest, so you will be alerted to Disaster Y in Country X. Because the app is offered free and no registration information is collected, the system has no way to home in on only those regions of interest to a user.

PDC first released the app as an experiment to "see how well the public may be receptive to it, and by the second month we were convinced," Shirkhodai said. Some days saw 300 downloads. In two months the app hit the 10,000 mark, and now "Disaster Alert" is "upward of 65,000 downloads." For those without a smart phone, the PDC also has a Web-enabled application allowing online visitors to "interactively see all the events," Shirkhodai said.


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Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Advertiser. Reach her by e-mail at

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