When its legislature passed Senate Bill 1 last November, Hawaii became the 15th state to legalize gay marriage. Already the number one wedding destination in the world, Hawaii is beginning to take center stage in the LGBT community. And, the tourism industry is well aware that LGBT couples who are planning their dream wedding will have a positive impact on the economy. While many of Hawaii’s major hotels and resorts are starting to offer wedding packages for the community, one resort, in particular, stands out.
The Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort, located in the heart of beautiful Maui, is the only LGBT-owned-and-operated resort in all of Hawaii. Often referred to as “Your home under the rainbow,” Sunseeker has been catering to the gay community for the past 10 years, albeit focusing more attention on gay males. However, this resort has made considerable progress in its efforts to include the entire LGBTQ spectrum, as well as our straight allies. In fact, this Pacific getaway is creating an entire week devoted to lesbian events and activities.
You may recognize Maui Sunseeker from The Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible. Though many hotels and resorts on that show are in dire need of help, when Sunseeker was featured, it had just won the first of its three Certificate of Excellence awards. Trip Advisor bestows this honor to only 10 percent of the hotels and resorts around the world.
“In all honesty, it was a great opportunity for publicity. The hard thing was, there wasn’t anything too wrong with the hotel,” explains Bob Kincaid, product manager for Maui Sunseeker and president of Maui Pride. “We were able to get a lot of great feedback on ways to improve the experience for guests, and we still keep in touch and follow up with Anthony [Melchiorri, the show’s host]. We noticed an increase in bookings when it aired originally and still do, every time they show the reruns.”
Since its appearance on the show, Sunseeker has remodeled its popular, clothing-optional rooftop deck and added flat-screen smart TVs to each room. A new café and more guest rooms, bringing the total to 26, are part of another project that is just finishing.
The Travel Channel is not the only place spotlighting Maui Sunseeker. For The Gossip fans out there, front woman Beth Ditto and Kristin Ogata recently shared their nuptials at this resort. “It was an amazing experience,” says Kincaid. “They basically took over the whole hotel and were just a lot of fun and such great people. We were really excited to see them before and after the wedding, and everyone had a fantastic time.”
In general, Maui has a very relaxed and tight-knit LGBT community. Maui Pride hosts events once a month, and there’s a celebration each October, with Maui-based lesbian rocker Deborah Vial as the headliner. And, you are sure to feel like family from the moment you arrive at Sunseeker.
“It’s very much like a family situation at the hotel. People make friends here, and they end up planning their travel dates around each other,” notes Kincaid. “I would love to see more women come out. We want to be a place where people can come out and can just be who they are, where they do not have to worry about holding hands or kissing somewhere and feeling uncomfortable.”
Whether you are saying “I do” to the person you love, or just planning a trip where you can feel free and relaxed in a tropical paradise, Maui Sunseeker welcomes you with open arms.