KAILUA, Hawaii — Much has been written about the fantastic beach-side villas the First Family rents out for the winter holidays here on the eastern side of Oahu. Although far more modest, the press corps digs down the street are kind of amazing in their own way.
When President Obama is in his rental property, a group of about a dozen reporters, including wire reporters, a newspaper writer, photographers and television camera crews wait for him at a house in the same neighborhood of Kailua. When Obama leaves to play golf, workout at a gym on a nearby military base, go to the beach or eat with his family at a restaurant in Waikiki the press follows in a van near the rear of the presidential motorcade.
But otherwise the reporters are camped out at their own rental property — called a "press hold"— that is paid for by the news organizations that accompany the president to Hawaii.
This year, the press corps is staying at a house that boasts some remarkable features, including the "jungle shower" (shown above), as some reporters have dubbed it, that opens into the bedroom and is accented by decorative pebbles and live vegetation, and has floor to ceiling frosted windows.
Here's a closer look.
The overall decor of the property takes on as Asian flair that mixes elements of Japan and southeast Asia design. Apparently one of the previous owners of the property had spent time in Indonesia. For instance, there is a koi pond outside, complete with a tiny footbridge. Four orange-and-white-colored koi swim back and forth.
The koi pond is right next to the pool and a pair of palm trees.
The pool features two of these dog gargoyles.
At the front foyer is a small space that introduces guests to the Asian feel of the home, with a Japanese-style lantern, a pebble and rock garden and a wall print featuring white cranes.
There are a number of large mirrors with decorative frames and door archways that are equally ornate.
Even the bathroom wallpaper plays into the style.
Out back, to the side of the pool, is a tiki bar.
There was even a rainbow visible across the street on Friday morning as the press waited for the Obama motorcade.
All in all, the digs were more than comfortable, but the truth is that the reporters, who filed stories while waiting in the house, would have preferred for Obama to do something newsworthy so they had more to write about.
Postscript: Vicki Yu, a local real estate agent for Sotheby's, informs us that the property is was sold last October for $1.75 million.
Note: The iPhone's panoramic photo feature was used in some of these pictures, so there could be some distortion.