Hawaii Hideaways, Inc. debuted in 2004 as an elite, concierge-type rental service offering more than 115 ultra-luxe private homes (valued from $2 million to $34 million) on six Hawaiian islands.  When owners aren't in residence, properties are available for rental.  This is the ultimate Hawaiian getaway, specializing in newly built beachfront or oceanview villas with at least four bedrooms and baths as well as luxury amenities such as infinity pools, saunas, Jacuzzis, billiard tables, tennis courts, exercise rooms, media centers, state-of-the-art kitchens and private beach access.  Designer furnishings include the owners' collections of artworks and antiques.

The company's resourceful concierges are prepared to handle all guest requests, whether it's a private jet and limousine arrangements or, in our case, surfboarding lessons and chef services.

 Advance personal consultations assure a good fit as far as location, amenities and other features are concerned.  For example, for our Maui stay we had a choice of a location among milder, sunnier Waimea sites, where shopping and restaurants are plentiful, or on the wilder, more rugged and a bit more private Kapalua sites, where surfing and golfing are prime.

The property we tested, Infinity Bay, in the Kapalua area, was owned by an artist with galleries in Lahaina whose works dominated the modern decor of the villa.  Other outstanding features were a sweeping staircase, two-story windows with ocean views, 24 flat screen TVs and an exercise room that would put many commercial gyms to shame.

 We were impressed with the decor of the Kapalua Crest villa next door, executed with a restrained Asian air and containing a true chef's kitchen.  Its palm-lined terrace was a good spot for watching whales, dolphins and sea turtles.  Both homes come with guest privileges, including golf, at the nearby Ritz-Carlton.  

The 45-acre Island Palace is a single property that's as large as a resort, with generously sized pool, kayaks, croquet lawn and gym.  Overall though, it seems less personal, probably because of its hotel-style decor.  Another villa, Sea Glass, on the Waimea side, overlooks the Plantation Golf Course and ocean beyond, which can be seen from every bedroom.  Mirage also overlooks the bay, and the smaller Aquarium, owned by a California vintner, situated open-air on the second story, are sparcely but stylishly designed in Japanese style.

Homes rent from $7,000 to $95,000 per week, which is the minimum stay.  Tel: 866-962-5642. www.hawaiihideaways.com