While at the Council meeting on Wednesday, a friend pointed out the proprietor of Pure Kauai, the outfit that specializes in catering to the ultra rich staying in vacation rentals, most of them on agricultural land.
Earlier, she had sent me a link to the Pilaa Beach House property, which most assuredly is on ag land, and is just one of many the company manages.
There’s also Anini View Estate, billed as a “spectacular property [that] has been transformed from a 3 bedroom, 3 bath casual beach house into a lavish yet comfortable estate” — perhaps through one of those "unsubstantial improvement" scams the county is so fond of perpetuating.
Then there’s the Tunnel’s Getaway, which rents for “$855 nightly rate; $965 summer rate; $1,180 holiday rate,” and the Lake House, which is on North Shore ag land. But there’s no mention of a farm with this dwelling, just a reference to a “large, fenced yard on over an acre.”
Another one of the listings said Secret Beach Home New Home! Remember when the Council passed the last TVR bill and promised, like the Council is now, that there wouldn’t be any new ones?
I was already familiar with Pure Kauai and it’s particular brand of tourism, having read a glowing article about it in Spirit of Aloha a few years back. The article really, really, really pissed me off, in part because the writer joined in promoting this crap so unquestioningly, but mostly because it illustrated how this brand of luxury tourism was packaging Kauai in a way that I found particularly distasteful, a way that had nothing to do with reality and everything to do with exclusivity, privilege and conspicuous consumption.
I think what offended me most was the way the company billed itself as “pure Kauai,” as if this sort of nonsense has anything to do with the essence of this place.
Anyway, I wrote a piece as a sort of rebuttal, and the Council meeting prompted me to dig it out:
It recently came to my attention that if you have at least $3,500 — and no qualms about spending it on a week-long personal pamper-fest — you can stay in a palatial home overlooking “Secrets” beach and have a whole parade of people traipse through, waiting on you hand and foot, leading you in a yoga session, teaching you how to surf, massaging your body, guiding you on a hike, preparing all your food, cleaning up your dirty dishes, taking out your trash, making you feel that it’s your right, your privilege, indeed, your duty to indulge yourself so wholly.
You will remain blissfully unaware that the sandy strand you gaze upon is actually named Kauapea, that part-time residents who own the adjacent homes hired private security to banish nude sunbathers from that very same public beach, that your spacious vacation abode is ten times bigger than the cracker boxes inhabited by local families who live all jammed up because real estate speculation has driven up the price of land and housing.
You will not be troubled by the news that the bay you’re surfing is regularly contaminated with fecal bacteria, the trail you’re led upon is not one designated for commercial use, the house you’re luxuriating in sits on agricultural land, and so is supposed to be a farm dwelling.
You will never be pressed to acknowledge that the fee you’re paying to relieve yourself from the stress of your fast-paced “good life” back home represents 350 hours of toil for the ten dollar an hour wage slaves who rake the leaves, mow the lawns, change the sheets and all but wipe the butts of the oblivious ultra-rich who wash in and wash out, like so much flotsam on the tide.
Instead, you will be encouraged to believe you are experiencing pure kauai, never dreaming that it’s pure shibai.