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Nearly a decade ago, Hawaii resident Kehau Hall had a great idea: turn a quiet corner of her family’s farm into a simple, easy-to-maintain Airbnb. Nine years and one pandemic later, Hall has two tiny Airbnbs that are thriving — sharing “aloha” with guests and making money at the same time.
It all started with a tent: According to an interview she did with CNBC Make It, 28-year-old Hall spent about $300 on a large tent, then another $8,000 or so to upgrade it into a glamping spot.
For the uninitiated, the term “glamping” combines the words “glamour” and “camping” to describe a slightly less-than-rustic campsite. In Hall’s case, this means a tent outfitted with a shower, toilet and miniature kitchen.
Basically, this translates to fresh coffee in the morning and zero midnight bathroom expeditions for guests, who are surrounded all the while by Hawaii’s lush landscape.
Hall said the 90-acre location where her tents are set up, on Hawaii’s Big Island, has been in her family for generations. In recent years, however, the area’s become a vacation hotspot — a quick Airbnb search for Mountain View, Hawaii, reveals more than 1,000 properties available for rent.
Hall’s glamping tents, at 10 feet by 20 feet and 10 by 30 feet, target a smaller subset of vacationers, however. Though the facilities are more luxurious than a basic campsite, they attract folks who crave quieter, more nature-focused accommodations.
The first one goes for $67 a night and features a kitchenette and dining area, a French press, hot plate, mini refrigerator and an attached shower with hot running rainwater. The bed is a large, California king-size affair. The tent is set on rainforest land basically in her family’s backyard.
“I wanted to use the land for good, where other people could come and benefit from it and really immerse themselves in nature,” Hall told CNBC Make It. “It’s important to detach and relax from the virtual world for a moment.”
For those who need a little more pizzazz during their vacay, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a 10-minute drive away. It’s home to two of the world’s most active — and famous— volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. (Kilauea just erupted for 13 days in June!)
And now, after losing loads of business during the pandemic, Hall offers high-speed Wi-Fi for guests who need to get some work done.
In an essay for Newsweek describing her success, Hall said that her “magical” tent was only her first shot at sharing her home state’s beauty with mainlanders. As of last year, she notes, the two tents are making her $30,000 a year. The second one costs $80 a night and has space for four guests.
And she isn’t going to stop there.
“But this is just the beginning,” she wrote. “I am planning to build a few more tents; although I’m not sure of the exact location, I know they will be in Hawaii.”