Saturday, September 6, 2008

Barber's Point Cottages

*This was taken from the beach. I meant to get a better pic from the road without all the trees in the way, but I guess I never did! This is the front of our half of the duplex. The other side looked identical.
The last place we stayed in Hawaii were the Barber's Point Cottages on Oahu. We stayed there for four nights, and our overall satisfaction level was a bit mixed. We did agree, however, that we would stay there again, although I have reservations about doing it if we didn't actually live on the island. You'll see why after reading all of this. In order to stay here, you must be military (active, retired, or reserve), a military dependent, DOD civilian, or a guest of one of the above. There are twenty four cottages, some duplex style (like the one we stayed in), some called "deluxe cedar cottages" (no clue what that is supposed to mean, other than they are stand-alone units), and a few 3 bedroom units. The 3 bedrooms sleep eight, and the others sleep 6. Ours had a master bedroom with king size bed and another bedroom in the back with a set of twin beds. The couch in the front room converted into another bed. All of the cottages except the duplexes have a washer/dryer in them and air conditioning in the entire place. Ours only had air conditioning units in the two bedrooms, but we never found this uncomfortable. Twenty of the cottages are right next to the beach, with four of the duplexes sitting behind. They are staggered, though, so we had a nice view of the beach from our porch. The only real problem with this setup is that you have to walk across the gravel road and through some beach grass to get to the beach. Doing this barefoot is a bit miserable, so wear sandals if you stay here and must make this trek. There is no regular maid service at the cottages. If you are in one without a washer and dryer, you will receive a package of linens every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can leave your dirty towels on the porch and they will take them away. We did find that whether you leave your towels or not, they will leave a complete package of new ones. So, don't fret too much about it if you forget to leave them out the night before. You'll need to wash your own linens if you stay in the other cottages.
One icky thing about where we stayed were the floors. They are all linoleum, which makes sense considering the cottages are right next to the beach. They were, however, filthy. We were running around barefoot right after arriving, and quickly realized our feet were turning black from the floor. I actually pulled out a rag we'd brought to use as a dishcloth and scrubbed the floor on hands and knees. If we'd lived on Oahu, the Scooba would definitely have been added to the packing list. We did find a mop hanging outside a few days later, but it was one of those rope mops, which might explain the icky floor. I didn't see a bucket to use with it, either. Definitely bring something to clean the floors if you can. There were a few random cleaning solutions under the sink in the kitchen, but bring your own if you have something particular you like. Also, a rug or two would have been nice to have. Old towels will also work great for that purpose. There is a TV with cable and a VCR. Yes, I did say a VCR. If you want to watch DVDs, you'll need to bring your own player. Also, the TV is mounted very high on the wall, hospital room style. The one we had was very basic, with only A/V inputs, so don't come expecting to spend your time watching TV. Also, bring some extra AAs. The remote in our cottage had no batteries. Whether that was because someone stole them or they aren't included, I don't know, but bring them just in case. The included amenities were dishes (stoneware in decent shape), silverware and some random cooking utensils, a knife block (bring a sharp knife if you can; these were very hit or miss), blender, microwave, coffee maker, toaster, hot mitts (once again, bring your own if you can; these were kind of icky), and a dish towel. There was supposed to be dish soap, too, but we never found any. We left our mostly full bottle behind when we left so the next people will have some. Also, bring a dish cloth. If you forget one and try to use one of the white facecloths from the bathroom, you may end up being charged for it later. All "excessively soiled" linens will incur a cleaning charge. Toilet paper and garbage bags are also not provided by MWR, but you may or may not need them. We bought a roll of tp before looking under the sink in the bathroom. I found several rolls under there later, and we actually didn't even need to replace the partial one while we were there. Whoever had been there before us had left behind garbage bags, too. I had planned on using the empty shopping bags from our commissary trip, but we ended up not needing them. Barber's Point was once a Naval base, but isn't now. You'll drive through the remains of its front gate when you go. The nice thing about that, though, is that there's a small commissary, NEX mini-mart (with gas station), golf course (which is where you check-in), bowling alley, and ITT office nearby. The commissary isn't open on Sundays or Mondays, so you'll have to go to the larger one near Pearl Harbor if you need something on those days. We came on a Sunday, so this is what we had to do. The Pearl Harbor commissary is open seven days a week. However, if you can avoid that place, do. It made our commissary on a pay day look empty. The aisles were jammed with people, and it was almost impossible to grab anything without first dodging someone. If we are ever stationed there, I can tell that will be my least favorite place to be. One note about the beach: It's very, very rough. There were times it wasn't too bad, but there were also times we didn't dare go more than a few steps into the water because the waves were so powerful. We had to watch Wyatt like a hawk because of this. So, if you have kids, don't let them go to the beach alone. There are no lifeguards. It would probably make a great place to surf or boogie board, though, if you knew what you were doing. Click on the picture to the right and you'll see how the waves were churning up the sand when they hit. This was probably the worst we saw it. The sand was really nice to play in. It's actually a lot finer and nicer to walk in than the sand we found at Waikiki. It's like all the other sand we found on Hawaii though: you can't just rinse it off, you have to scrub it off. The water actually seems to make it stick worse. It's easier to brush it off when dry. And trust me, if you get buried in this stuff, you will be scrubbing for awhile! Luckily, there are outdoor showers at the cottages. When I first used it, I braced myself for some cold water, but it's really warm. Definitely a reminder we were in Hawaii not Washington! The last thing I should cover is that there is definitely a bug problem there. It is clearly stated in the paperwork that while they are making every effort to take care of them, there will be bugs there. They also state that it is worse in the summer time. They will not give refunds if you find the place too buggy to stay, so be prepared to deal with it or eat the cost of staying there. We were there in August, so I'm assuming we saw it at its worst. Flies, both the fruit and big, black, hairy varieties, and teeny tiny ants were the ones most in evidence. When we were packing up, Oliver went to put away the Wii controllers and discovered one of them had been taken over by the ants. We hadn't played it at all while there, due to the TV set up, but they had been pulled out when we'd taken the laptop out of the bag. He told me later that when he picked the remote up, it went black with all the ants that poured from every crevice and hole. I took it from him after hearing him complain about the ants that were now crawling on him (ick), went outside with it and brushed off as many ants as I could with a paper towel. They just kept coming, so after a bit, we stuck it in the freezer for a few hours. Problem solved. Luckily, it still worked when we brought it back home. My advice is to make sure you keep your electronics zipped into a bag and off the floor whenever you aren't using them. As for the flies, keep your dishes washed after every meal and don't leave food unattended. If you want to eat outside, as we definitely did, don't bring all the food out with you. Just take your plates and drinks and go back inside when you want seconds. We discovered the hard way that if you bring it all outside at once, you'll spend most of your time swatting flies. Not fun. The fruit flies will try to take over anything, especially the garbage. I'd recommend using small trash bags and bringing them out as soon as they are full. Also, don't leave fruit or other food out on the counter. The worst part of all this is that when we got home, we discovered we'd imported a fruit fly problem, something that has never been an issue around here before. If you are staying in one of the deluxe cottages, make sure you wash all your clothes and towels right before you leave. Wipe down anything you can before packing it. Hopefully, this will help prevent that issue. We had a really great time here, despite the aforementioned issues. It only cost us $80 a night (your pay grade is factored into what you pay here, just like at the Hale Koa), and enabled us to make our own food, which also saved us money. We were definitely tired of restaurant fare by then. Staying in hotels had a certain charm, and I did miss the full maid service, but having the boys in their own room meant we finally got to get some sleep and spend a little time alone together after they crashed for the night. We were lucky to get a booking at all because it was summertime and I called only a month ahead of time. I'm glad we were able to stay here!
Wyatt drinks the last of the Ben & Jerry's ice cream. This is our last day there, and we were trying to eat up the last of the food. What better time to bring ice cream to the beach?