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Hawaii has long been a gay-friendly destination with the warm and welcoming aloha spirit, so of course lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender visitors could expect to find the island of Maui is home to gay Hawaii’s premier gay and lesbian resort—and one of Maui’s best resorts—Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort. For many travelers visiting gay Maui, first-time or repeat, it’s become affectionately known as their home under the rainbow.
First opened in 2004 as primarily a gay resort located in Kihei, Maui Sunseeker was acquired by current owner Chuck Spence in 2008 from its former owners, also gay men. As a proud member of the LGBT community, Chuck’s purchase of the Sunseeker combined his love and outspoken advocacy for the community with his desire to own a small business and his passion for entertaining guests. Chuck also purchased the two adjacent properties and doubled the resort in size—and actively began welcoming everyone, including lesbian, bisexual and transgender travelers who had already discovered the resort as a favorite. “We are 100 percent gay-owned-and-operated and cater to the discerning adult LGBT traveler, but welcome all people who share a tolerance and acceptance of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community,” Chuck says. “My goal was to make it a premier gay resort, as well as the number one location for same-sex marriages and honeymoons in Hawaii.”
Chuck hails from Manhattan originally, working as head of sales for the trading floors of a major European bank. Having discovered Hawaii when he was on vacation in the ‘70s, Maui always stuck in his mind as a place he wanted to live—and such was the launch for the Sunseeker of today. “I traveled all over the world and kept coming back to Maui as I think it’s the most incredible place on Earth to be,” Chuck shares. “Of all the islands, Maui is the best fit for me as it is rural and rustic enough to be considered a tropical paradise, but it has just the right amount of restaurant and nightlife to make it enjoyable. Even Hawaiians say ‘Maui No Ka Oi’ or ‘Maui is the best.’”
Besides Maui Sunseeker’s clothing-optional pool area, which is the only Hawaii resort to offer such and is quite popular with gay and straight couples alike, the resort has continued to evolve over the years with the addition of new rooms, guest amenities, and renovations across the property. After recently completing a $1.2 million renovation, all suites now feature granite countertops, wood cabinets, and quiet, efficient split-unit air-conditioning. The resort’s spacious oceanfront penthouse has been updated with a new kitchen, brand-new appliances, tile, and carpeting. The Sunseeker also recently added Photovoltaic solar panels that generate about 75-80% of the resort’s electricity needs. In keeping with the island’s general admiration and dedication to preserving the environment, Chuck says, “We constantly strive to be as green as possible. One thing I am really big on is treating the Earth with the respect she deserves.”
Next up for the resort? The addition of a café and bar to the property, which will surely become a favorite meeting spot and hangout for the local gay and lesbian community. “As everything moves at island speed, I can’t predict when that will happen,” Chuck adds with a laugh. “But I can say that we are progressing nicely and look forward to having a place for our guests and the local LGBT community to enjoy breakfast, lunch, pupus, and cocktails in the evening.”
Whether guests come to tie the knot, celebrate with a Hawaii honeymoon, or just to relax and find some fun in the sun, you’re sure to experience a dream come true at Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort regardless of your orientation. “I know people ask why an LGBT resort is needed in this day of growing acceptance in the general public. My response is that there is still comfort in associating with people in your own demographic. We really work hard to create a high-quality hotel environment for all of our guests.”