551 S. Kihei Rd., Kihei, Maui, HI    +1 (808) 879-1261

History

Gay Hawaii

maui-sunseeker-bldg-300-constructionHawaii 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.”

Timeline

  • 1965 – Building 200 original construction completed under prior ownership.
  • 1965 – Building 400 original construction completed under prior ownership.
  • 1969 – Building 100 original construction completed under prior ownership.
  • 1971 – Building 300 original construction completed under prior ownership.
  • 1977 – Building 600 original construction completed under prior ownership.
  • 1965-2003 – Multiple owners of the original properties over the years with 35+ years where properties were hotel, real estate offices, private homes, and various businesses. Some of the original buildings were constructed by men and women that came out as an LGBT later.
  • 2003 – Maui Sunseeker – A Gay Resort opens with Building 100 and 200 under prior ownership featuring 5 rentable rooms.
  • 2004 – Wailana Inn purchased adding 12 new rooms to Maui Sunseeker.
  • 2005 – All 17 guest rooms remodeled.
  • 2005 – Complete new website launched for with online booking engine.
  • 2008 – In August, 2008, Maui Sunseeker sold to Chuck Spence forming Maui Sunseeker LLC as the operating company and Kahonua O Kale, LLC as the real estate holding company.
  • 2008 – New general manager hired to replace prior owner’s role.
  • 2009 – Sunseeker Activities formed as a concierge service for activity bookings.
  • 2009 – New marketing/advertising campaigns implemented focused on branding.
  • 2010 – In June 2010, General Manager Michael Waddell joins as new GM.
  • 2010 – In August 2010, Kahonua O Kale purchases the property at 20 Wailana Place to incorporate into resort as Building 400.
  • 2011 – Super efficient and super quiet ‘split unit’ a/c systems installed in all rooms of the 100, 200 and 600 building, winning tremendous accolades from guests. Brand new ‘quiet’ windows installed in every room of same buildings.
  • 2011 – Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort awarded the prestigious ‘Certificate of Excellence’ by TripAdvisor. Only 10% of hotels/resorts rated by guests on TripAdvisor are awarded this august distinction because they consistently earn higher than 4 out of 5 stars by the reviewers.
  • 2011 –In March 2011, Kahonua O Kale purchases the property at 26 Wailana Place to incorporate into resort as Building 600. The resort now has a footprint of 1 acre seated right on the shore in North Kihei.
  • 2011 – Maui Sunseeker Resort name changed to Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort.
  • 2011 – Complete new website and marketing branding launched with new logo.
  • 2011 – In July 2011, after complete cosmetic overall, Building 600 opens with six more rooms as rentable and adds a saline swimming pool to the property.
  • 2012 – Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort is awarded the prestigious ‘Certificate of Excellence’ by TripAdvisor for the second consecutive year.
  • 2012 – Civil Unions become legal in State of Hawaii. Within the first year, the Maui Sunseeker is a coordinator of 53 same-sex unions of guests at the hotel. That results in almost 8% of all same-sex unions performed in the entire State of Hawaii (just over 700) during 2012 are attributable to the Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort.
  • 2012 – Maui Sunseeker is featured on reality TV show Hotel Impossible offering a roof top remodel and a plan for cosmetic renovation of all guest rooms.
  • 2012 – New ground level hot tub opened in 400 garden adjacent to pool.
  • 2012 – Renovation of Building 300 and 600 completed following designer Blanche Garcia’s recommendations from Hotel Impossible show with rich upgrades such as granite countertops, unique paint design, new windows and super-efficient ‘Regupol’ sound insulation under all new tile floors.
  • 2013 – Free Wi-Fi network enhanced with high powered outdoor equipment and a dynamic access point installed in each guest room. New Ethernet cabling completed across entire property to provide greater, reliable bandwidth to every guest room. Guest accolades abound as a result of ‘the best hotel wi-fi’ they’ve experienced. This is significant given our very tech savvy demographic.
  • 2013 – Maui Sunseeker leads the industry with installation of 3D and HD flat panel TV’s that are smart TV’s to allow guests to download their own content from their accounts.
  • 2013 – ALDesk activity vouchering software implemented.
  • 2013 – New VOIP telephone system installed across whole property.
  • 2013 – February occupancy soars to record breaking level of 92% for the entire month.
  • 2013 – Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort is awarded the prestigious ‘Certificate of Excellence’ by TripAdvisor for the third consecutive year.
  • 2013 – In May, remodel construction begins on building 400. Anticipated completion by year end. New building will house a cafe, laundry, new front office and a penthouse suite.
  • 2013 – Became a reseller for Andrew Christian. Guests now have opportunity to purchase items at resort.
  • 2013 – Website re-branded and launched.
  • 2013 – December building 400 rooms open. Penthouse suite 421 and standard room 422 are the first connecting rooms offered on property. Creating room 420, will allow up to 6 guests in the room.
  • 2014 – New Kopikala (Tropical) Garden area opens. Space for events and weddings.
  • 2014 – Front office moves into building 400.
  • 2014 – Retail space opens with items such as: Andrew Christian, Maui Upcountry Jams and Jellies, Greeting Cards, Maui Coffee, Moku Pua.
  • 2014 – Maui Sunseeker receives TripAdvisor’s coveted ‘Certificate of Excellence’ for the fourth consecutive year and reaches the #1 ranking out of 62 specialty hotels in the Kihei/Wailea area.
  • 2014-Maui Sunseeker announces formation of its loyalty program for frequent guests.
  • 2014 – The neighbor property, historic Maui Lu is sold to Capbridge Group with plans to develop it into a Hilton Timeshare Property. The Maui Lu was the first resort on Maui’s windward side and built in the 1950’s.
  • 2014- The rooms in building 100 and 200, including the Oceanfront Penthouse Suite are renovated with new counters, cabinets, appliances, showers and flooring.
  • 2015 – The Maui Sunseeker spends $231,000 on installation of photovoltaic solar panels to four of the five current buildings. The panels now produce 70% of the hotel’s electricity requirements with renewable energy.
  • 2015-Wedding packages are restructured to provide a discount on the room stay in combination with the booking of wedding ceremonies through the website.
  • 2015- Maui Sunseeker, its owner (Chuck Spence) and staff are honored with the Mayor’s Award for 2015 Exceptional Small Business of the Year at the Maui Chamber of Commerce’s annual award dinner.
  • 2015- Maui Sunseeker in conjunction with RestEasyHosting.com produce a new website that is more mobile friendly/responsive and has state of the art features.
  • 2015- The historic Maui Lu is razed 55 years of business.