Obamas Say Aloha to Hawaii
Obamas are spending holidays in a private compound worth more than $30 million.
Dec. 22, 2008— -- It's a wonderful time of the year for the Obamas.
The future first family is trading in snow for sunshine. Barack and Michelle Obama and their two daughters, Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, are celebrating the holidays with friends in Hawaii, where the president-elect was raised.
And as for their vacation paradise, the Obamas and their close friends have rented three private houses worth more than $30 million.
Situated in the serene white sand of Kailua Beach, each house spans 5,000 square feet and features waterfalls and a lagoon-style pool.
It's a home fit for a king, said David Zimel, whose company Paradise Point Estates owns two of the houses.
Paradise Point Estates built the two homes in 2006. One is known as the Bali House for its intricate wood carvings throughout and the other, the Plantation House, for its open design.
Each home features high, vaulted ceilings, granite countertops, state-of-the-art appliances and a swimming pool with built-in hot tub. The president-elect's shower also dubs as a steam room. The company is looking to sell both, which have never been lived in.
The company has never rented them, but made an exception for the future first family.
"There is a lot of rich tradition of kings spending time on Kailua Beach. This was a place where royalty actually gathered. So I think it's pretty fitting that we have our next president spend some time here and try to relax," Zimel said.
He said the Obamas liked the houses and smiled a lot as Zimel showed them around.
"They have tremendous privacy, which is really good for them," Zimel said. "I know they are very tired."
The Obamas will be accompanied by Valerie Jarrett, a close friend of the family who will be Obama's senior White House adviser, and longtime family friends Marty Nesbitt and Eric Whitaker along with their families.
The Nesbitts and the Whitakers have children who are friends with Malia and Sasha and both families previously have traveled with the Obamas to Hawaii.
Maya Soetoro-Ng, Obama's sister and a high school teacher in Honolulu, lives on the island with her husband and daughter.