A New Kind of College Dorm in Waikiki

The Hawaii 5-0 crew filming at Tradewinds Student Suites.

Like LOST, part of the fun in watching last week’s premiere episode of Hawaii 5-0 was trying to identify the shoot locations. The opening sequence was obviously Kualoa Ranch, and I’m pretty sure the team’s office was headquartered in the old Advertiser building, but I couldn’t quite place Danno’s nondescript, retro apartment. A quick Google search yielded a somewhat-surprising result: The Tradewinds Student Suites, located on Hobron Lane across from Ala Moana Beach Park.

The Tradewinds is part of a rental portfolio managed by Hawaii Student Suites (HSS), which bills itself as Hawaii’s “oldest, largest and only full-service dorm management” company. Peter Savio, the president and CEO of the Savio Group of Companies, which specializes in condo conversions, started HSS in 2004 after he was offered the Kalo Terrace building as a condo conversion. “We realized that [Kalo] was not a rental building but a dorm,” says Savio. “I did the conversion to condo and sold to investors, but they agreed to rent the units back to us for a dorm rental program. We then started the dorm-management company.”

HSS currently owns approximately 300 beds (the dorm rentals are based on single or double occupancy and are rented by the bed), and is in the process of buying a 400-plus-room hotel, which will add 800 additional beds to the company’s inventory. Right now, the company has about 400 student tenants living in one of three categories of rentals: the “pure dorm,” the hotel dorm or the student rental.

According to Savio, the pure dorm is “good for the freshman student” because it offers a more conventional dorm environment with RAs on property to assist with issues and to help plan activities. Both Kalo Terrace, which is close to UH, and Beachwalk, a smaller dorm located a block away from Waikiki Beach, are part of this category. While fairly basic, these rentals still manage to be a heck of a lot nicer than my college dorm, and include either a full kitchen or kitchenette, furnishings, electricity, water, cable, Internet and trash service. Prices range from $650 for a double to $1,100 for a single, though the company does offer a kamaaina rent scholarship program that can drastically reduce those rates.

The second group, the hotel dorm collection, consists of rooms leased in several three-star Waikiki hotels, including Aqua’s Maile Skycourt, Island Colony and Palms hotels, Ohana Waikiki West and White Sands. Because hotels have much stricter policies, these rentals are generally better suited to upper classmen or “mature freshman.” These suites come furnished, have kitchenettes and also include utilities, water and trash service, as well as some college-kid-friendly amenities, including fitness centers, swimming pools, saunas, Internet cafes and weekly maid service for the more high-end rentals. Rates for the hotel dorms run between $625 for a double to $1,950 for a single. The third group is the student rental collection, and includes the now-famous Tradewinds. These condo-apartments are generally occupied by groups of upperclassman, though they’re open to all students. Prices start around $675.

Contact: Hawaii Student Suites leasing office, 952-5377, aprilt@hihltd.com. www.studentrentalshawaii.com.