In Hawaii, localssay “Maui no ka oi” - “Maui is the best.” There are many reasons why thatbelief is so widely held by visitors and islanders alike. As popular as GayMaui has become for tourists—as crowded as the Honoapilani Highway is at almostall times—it is still possible to find places of great beauty and tranquility. Maui Sunseeker Resort is a terrificLGBT-friendly property. Owner ChuckSpence 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 travelerswhen they are on vacation?
CS: We stress LGBT sothat our guests know that we are not just gay friendly. We are a proudly gayowned and gay operated business. Therainbow flag on our street front is a testament to that.
With the passage of civil unions in Hawaii, we’ve had atremendous 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 weddingsand honeymoons.
It's a bit frustrating as none of these businesses were inthe trenches with us. In fact, many wereshooting at our community. Where werethese ‘friends’ when we were driving our guests to help us at rallies to fightfor the Civil Unions Law in Hawaii?
In fact, some hotels signed on AND DONATED to organizationsthat successfully demanded Republican Governor Lingle to veto the Civil UnionsBill last year. We fought for anddonated time and money to Governor Abercrombie’s successful campaign, whopromised and delivered on Civil Unions passage as one of his first acts in officethis year. MAHALO NEIL!
GT: Why should travelers book at your propertyinstead of other properties in the Maui area?
CS: OK now I can calmdown and share the Aloha Spirit. Mahalofor letting me rant politically……
The difference is not just about the gay dollarexpenditures. It's about yourexperience. We know LGBT guests at the‘gay friendly’ resorts or condos will not be able to hold hands or kiss in thepool without distressing the families with hundreds of kids running aroundthem. We’ve had many that book intothose ‘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 bethemselves. Our motto is ‘Feel Free by the Sea’ and we live by it. We do not discriminate against anyone as wecall ourselves hetero-friendly. Butmost importantly, we never take our clientele for granted, ever. We work hard every day to make this the bestplace to stay for value with a beautiful property that’s impeccably clean forthe discerning LGBT guest.
Plus here, we work very hard to be sure guests trulyexperience the fun and the beauty and culture of Maui. We sell a lot of activities through Hawaii’slargest LGBT Concierge service, our own Sunseekeractivites.com for that veryreason. We built that business onto the resort as wereally want our guests to experience Hawaii, not just another poolside.
GT: What makes Maui such a great LGBTdestination?
CS: The nativeHawaiian people are truly a loving and caring heritage that do not judge ordiscriminate. They have always warmlyshare this beautiful paradise island with all that come to visit us and theyembrace all people. While Maui, inparticular, has a very large LGBT population (out of only 110,000 full timeresidents), with the highest concentration right here in Kihei. Here we say “E Komo Mai” (Welcome to all) andare very sincere.
GT: What are some hotspots gay and lesbiantravelers should check out when they are visiting?
CS: Time to redefine‘LGBT hotspots’. If you’re coming toMaui to hang out at clubs all night and party on, Maui should not be firstchoice.
We are a ‘hotspot’ for the active LGBT visitor seeking thesun, hence our name. The number one LGBTdestination is the infamous Little Beach at Makena, one of the world’s mostbreathtakingly beautiful beaches. LittleBeach is a clothing optional beach that has a very large LGBT section where thecommunity congregates every day. Whileall restaurants and bars are ‘gay friendly’, there is no full time gay orlesbian bar….yet. We are working onthat. We do have Lulu’s for the gay menon Sunday night and we have Ambrosia that’s popular for Lesbian women. And like others, such as Three’s Bar andGrill, have LGBT nights. Visit ourwebsite at www.mauisunseeker.com for other businesses and the latest info under‘Sunseeker Activities’ tab.
GT: Why did you decide to go into the hospitalitybusiness? Is there a need for more gay-friendlyhotels and resorts?
CS: I first stayed asa guest at the Maui Sunseeker in 2005 and fell in love with everything aboutthe location and the business. And Maui is rated one of the world’s topdestination islands in the world year after year by discerning travelmagazines.
When the previous owners put the property on the market in2006, I started discussions with them because it broke my heart to think amagical special location for our community could be sold and changed away froman LGBT resort. My professional careeras an investment banker has not only taught me how to run a solid business, butit's put me into so many hotel nights that I so well know what the guest wantsto experience and expects of a hotel. The deal finally closed in 2008 in the midst of the market turmoil andwe’ve used it to our advantage to expand to a 1 acre compound by buying twoadjacent properties.
Yes we need more LGBT OWNED hotels and resorts, but not onMaui, please. It's been a rough go of itthrough these economic times and we sincerely appreciate our guestspatronage. We know it's tough for themas well.
GT: Do you get a lot of repeat business?
CS: LOVE thisquestion….YES tons of it. We proudlyshare our statistic that 40% of our guests are ‘repeat guests’. That’s unheard of in this industry and homageto our hard work.
We must be doing something right as guest’s Trip Advisorratings 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…..