Maui Business

“Hotel Impossible” Comes to Maui Sunseeker

December 3, 2012, 3:25 PM HST
* Updated December 4, 10:33 AM
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Left to right: Michael Waddell, general manager of the Maui Sunseeker;  Chuck Spence, owner of the Maui Sunseeker; and Anthony Melchiorri, the hotel consultant and host of Hotel Impossible. Photo courtesy of Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort.

By Sonia Isotov

Hotel fixer Anthony Melchiorri, star of Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible,” visited the Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort in Kihei in September and the transformation will be featured in an episode airing December 17.

The boutique resort has 26 well-appointed guest rooms and suites. Chuck Spence has owned the resort since 2008 and Michael Waddell is the general manager; both are featured in the episode.

An adults-only property, the Maui Sunseeker Resort welcomes all, but caters primarily to the gay and lesbian traveler. The resort makes the claim on its website that it is “the largest gay-owned and operated hotel in Hawaii serving the gay and lesbian market.”

The rooftop after the transformation. Photo courtesy of Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort.

With such a narrow client focus, Melchiorri worked with Chuck Spence on the marketing strategy and allocation of resources to improve the property.

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The hotel presented a unique problem as it receives rave reviews from its clientele but struggles with its occupancy and related cash flow, hence the marketing strategy focus. Program regular, Blanche Garcia, designer and program regular, joined Melchiorri to upgrade the rooftop deck.

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“It was eye opening for all involved in this show,” said Spence, jokingly, “For us, from a business perspective, and for the cast when they discovered the clothing optional hot tub.”

“I think the biggest takeaway was how valuable it is to have a consultant come to evaluate the business and how we are performing. I wish I would have hired Anthony years ago just to get an outside expert opinion, even in the successful years.”

Rooftop before transformation. Photo courtesy of Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort.

“Because of Anthony’s suggestions, we’ve already seen a transformation in our clients and the appearance of the property. And the show hasn’t even aired yet. That speaks volumes to the quality of Anthony’s advice versus being featured in a television program,” said Spence. Melchiorri is the owner of Argeo Hospitality, a hotel industry consultancy, as well as the program’s host.

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“The main change that took place is the upgrade to the property. I learned that there is a marked difference in what may seem to be insignificant issues that you just don’t budget for in a recession.”

“For example, we had Formica countertops in our suites that didn’t cost a lot to upgrade to granite.  With that change and a fresh design of how the room is painted, we saw a major transformation of our rooms that the repeat guests really notice and comment very positively on,” added Bob Kincaid, product manager for Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort.

“We also get a lot more “wow’s” from the new guests when they see the quality of the room they’ve rented. That has only stood to increase their return ratio even more and improve our occupancy.”

A viewing party is planned for Dec. 17 at Moose McGillycuddy’s in Kihei at 7:30 p.m.

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