The Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort: The Valley Isle of the Dolls
In Hawaii, locals say “Maui no ka oi” - “Maui is the best.” There are many reasons why that belief is so widely held by visitors and islanders alike. As popular as Gay Maui has become for tourists—as crowded as the Honoapilani Highway is at almost all times—it is still possible to find places of great beauty and tranquility. Maui Sunseeker Resort is a terrific LGBT-friendly property. Owner Chuck Spence filled us in on why you should book your stay there.
GT: The Maui Sunseeker is a LGBT resort. Does that make a difference for gay travelers when they are on vacation?
CS: We stress LGBT so that our guests know that we are not just gay friendly. We are a proudly gay owned and gay operated business. The rainbow flag on our street front is a testament to that.
With the passage of civil unions in Hawaii, we’ve had a tremendous infiltration of hotels and resorts that are now calling themselves ‘gay friendly’ to ‘cash in’ on what they see as the gold rush of LGBT weddings and honeymoons.
It's a bit frustrating as none of these businesses were in the trenches with us. In fact, many were shooting at our community. Where were these ‘friends’ when we were driving our guests to help us at rallies to fight for the Civil Unions Law in Hawaii?
In fact, some hotels signed on AND DONATED to organizations that successfully demanded Republican Governor Lingle to veto the Civil Unions Bill last year. We fought for and donated time and money to Governor Abercrombie’s successful campaign, who promised and delivered on Civil Unions passage as one of his first acts in office this year. MAHALO NEIL!
GT: Why should travelers book at your property instead of other properties in the Maui area?
CS: OK now I can calm down and share the Aloha Spirit. Mahalo for letting me rant politically……
The difference is not just about the gay dollar expenditures. It's about your experience. We know LGBT guests at the ‘gay friendly’ resorts or condos will not be able to hold hands or kiss in the pool without distressing the families with hundreds of kids running around them. We’ve had many that book into those ‘friendly’ places, only to leave to come here. They forfeit their remaining room nights, just so they can enjoy themselves for the rest of their stay.
We are an adults only property where our LGBT guests can be themselves. Our motto is ‘Feel Free by the Sea’ and we live by it. We do not discriminate against anyone as we call ourselves hetero-friendly. But most importantly, we never take our clientele for granted, ever. We work hard every day to make this the best place to stay for value with a beautiful property that’s impeccably clean for the discerning LGBT guest.
Plus here, we work very hard to be sure guests truly experience the fun and the beauty and culture of Maui. We sell a lot of activities through Hawaii’s largest LGBT Concierge service, our own Sunseekeractivites.com for that very reason. We built that business onto the resort as we really want our guests to experience Hawaii, not just another poolside.
GT: What makes Maui such a great LGBT destination?
CS: The native Hawaiian people are truly a loving and caring heritage that do not judge or discriminate. They have always warmly share this beautiful paradise island with all that come to visit us and they embrace all people. While Maui, in particular, has a very large LGBT population (out of only 110,000 full time residents), with the highest concentration right here in Kihei. Here we say “E Komo Mai” (Welcome to all) and are very sincere.
GT: What are some hotspots gay and lesbian travelers should check out when they are visiting?
CS: Time to redefine ‘LGBT hotspots’. If you’re coming to Maui to hang out at clubs all night and party on, Maui should not be first choice.
We are a ‘hotspot’ for the active LGBT visitor seeking the sun, hence our name. The number one LGBT destination is the infamous Little Beach at Makena, one of the world’s most breathtakingly beautiful beaches. Little Beach is a clothing optional beach that has a very large LGBT section where the community congregates every day. While all restaurants and bars are ‘gay friendly’, there is no full time gay or lesbian bar….yet. We are working on that. We do have Lulu’s for the gay men on Sunday night and we have Ambrosia that’s popular for Lesbian women. And like others, such as Three’s Bar and Grill, have LGBT nights. Visit our website at www.mauisunseeker.com for other businesses and the latest info under ‘Sunseeker Activities’ tab.
GT: Why did you decide to go into the hospitality business? Is there a need for more gay-friendly hotels and resorts?
CS: I first stayed as a guest at the Maui Sunseeker in 2005 and fell in love with everything about the location and the business. And Maui is rated one of the world’s top destination islands in the world year after year by discerning travel magazines.
When the previous owners put the property on the market in 2006, I started discussions with them because it broke my heart to think a magical special location for our community could be sold and changed away from an LGBT resort. My professional career as an investment banker has not only taught me how to run a solid business, but it's put me into so many hotel nights that I so well know what the guest wants to experience and expects of a hotel. The deal finally closed in 2008 in the midst of the market turmoil and we’ve used it to our advantage to expand to a 1 acre compound by buying two adjacent properties.
Yes we need more LGBT OWNED hotels and resorts, but not on Maui, please. It's been a rough go of it through these economic times and we sincerely appreciate our guests patronage. We know it's tough for them as well.
GT: Do you get a lot of repeat business?
CS: LOVE this question….YES tons of it. We proudly share our statistic that 40% of our guests are ‘repeat guests’. That’s unheard of in this industry and homage to our hard work.
We must be doing something right as guest’s Trip Advisor ratings have kindly given us an EXCELLENT 4 ½ points out of 5. That’s nearly a perfect score!! Mahalo nui loa!
GT: Just to share a quote….we had one ‘undercover’ reporter stay with us that described us as ‘Four Seasons’ attention to every detail at extremely affordable rates in his article. So flattering…..