Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort - Kihei, Hawaii, HI 96753, United States

Behind the Scenes of our Reality TV Show

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Mahalo to all of you that submitted emails and comments on our blog about the Maui Sunseeker episode of Hotel Impossible, that premiered on Travel Channel last month. If you didn’t catch the episode, it’s very likely you can see the rerun this season as it is repeating regularly. Check your local TV guide for regular listings. Our episode is also for sale on iTunes.

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Rather than answer all the questions we received individually, we thought we’d respond in a newsletter to the FAQ’s so we can share some of the experience. Here are our responses to the most asked questions:

What’s it like to be followed by a camera and being constantly ‘miked’ for the show?

At first it’s very uncomfortable and nerve-racking. Then the drama with the cast becomes so large, you forget the cameras and microphones are there. Eventually, you just let it fly; after all, it is ‘reality’. There was a moment where Chuck, our owner, needed to stop the filming to take his first ‘break’ during an interview scene. As he stepped out of the bathroom and saw the entire crew, his face was hysterical to watch. He couldn’t even finish the question of ‘did you all just hear everything in there?’ before they were all nodding and smiling. Enrique, the sound engineer, placated him by telling him he had ‘switched him off’, wink wink.

Is the hot tub completely gone?

Nope. We always had the plan to remove the hot tub from the roof deck because it was old and leaking. Plus we had to keep the old tub on a timer that shut off at 10 pm because it made too much noise in the rooms beneath it. We had advised Hotel Impossible of that plan and said they could redo the rooftop.

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The new whirlpool tub is beautiful because it’s larger (8-10 person) and installed nearer to the pool behind the number ‘400’ building. We always wanted to move it there but needed permits from the County to do that, which arrived a month before the filming of the show. During the ‘scouting’ sessions, when the show asked what we thought needed to be renovated, the roof was at the very top of the list because we had just gotten the OK to move the Jacuzzi We gave them our problem and our proposed solution and the show did an amazing job with it. The new roof is just stunningly beautiful and makes the view even more enjoyable from up there.

For you hot tubbers, you’ll be happy to know that because we relocated it behind the 400 building, it now is open and available 24/7 so you can soak all night under the stars. (Yes, clothing still optional.)

How real is the reality TV aspect of Hotel Impossible?

While a good portion of the events actually took place and the words spoken are real, the editors are ultimately the story tellers that can piece the words together in any order.

For example, because the first meeting with Anthony Melchiorri had to be ‘real’ when it appeared on camera, Michael and Chuck were sequestered in Chuck’s apartment and forbidden to be ‘on property’ the first few days. Locked away, they would not accidentally bump into Anthony before camera time. So that aspect was pretty real. (You can imagine how nervous they were having Anthony inspect the property while ‘locked down’ in an apartment.)

However, the truth of the problems with the Sunseeker is not occupancy or revenue, as the show portrayed. Just look at the TripAdvisor reviews for the last two years where the Sunseeker has earned 4.5 stars out of 5. The true story is that because of the prolonged wait for our complicated building permits for the 400 building, we are being drained of cash for maintenance, insurance and large property taxes with no income as we are not allowed to use the building until construction is complete.

Without that building, the Sunseeker would be profitable and cash flow would be adequate. Unfortunately, the show didn’t want to get drawn into a long and confusing ‘building permit’ discussion. So the final editors clipped bits and pieces around so much of 6 days of filming to fit their format for a dramatic portrayal within 38 minutes of airtime. (Yep, you mathematicians also watched 22 minutes of commercials)

We’ve stayed at the hotel many times and it’s not at all in the rundown condition the show portrayed. How could you let them do that?

First, if you think about the items that were ‘picked on’; they were not issues that would drive customers away. As Anthony pointed out, they’re items that would make us a higher quality establishment.

Almost all of the issues, oddly enough, centered around signage; overgrown foliage covering ‘Office’ signs, inadequate parking signs, the temporary room signs we put up until all the construction is done, the letter K that was mysteriously stolen from our ‘Sunseeker’ cornerstone sign a week before the film crew arrived. All of this may have looked really bad on camera, but was only intended for us to move up in quality. Anthony’s got a great eye for detail and we deserved those whacks. (He is an ex-marine after all.)

We knew that our rooms are immaculate and well appointed and that we have a phenomenal staff. With those things going for us, the show could only help us be on our best performance. In fact, if you think back, Anthony raves about our room cleanliness and compliments our housekeeping when he said ‘this bed smells so clean’.

Secondly, there’s not a lot of control from the participant’s perspective. You sign away all rights to film and edit anything they want. The producers have to have that freedom to make the show interesting or you would have turned us off in the first 5 minutes.

We knew that upfront and were grown up enough to take that risk. We firmly believed in the old adage that there ain’t no such thing as bad PR, which has turned out to be the truth. Our phones have been ringing off the hook since the show aired. (Mahalo)

Was Anthony as hard on Michael and Chuck as it appeared?

No, he was worse. LOL. Seriously, he came in to do a job and get a show from it and succeeded at both. Anthony’s day job really is not TV star as he does have a hotel consulting business (Argeo Hotel Consulting) and is very good at that trait. To get through to us and create the drama needed, he had to be overtly rough. But as Jessica Rabbit said in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”……… ‘I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way’.

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The entire cast and crew of Hotel Impossible was incredibly nice and so kind and helpful, both on and off camera. Anthony and Blanche have become very good friends to both Michael and Chuck. They stay in regular contact and help with anything asked of them. They are both very pro-LGBT equality. We know they will be back for many visits in the future.

We didn’t recognize some of the shots in the show. Was this all filmed at the Sunseeker?

Other than the activity shots (zipline) and beach scenes, everything else was filmed on Sunseeker property. Because there was footage of the ‘400’ building that we are awaiting the building permits for, it was unfair for them to show it on air without explanation. Of course that building looks so bad because we aren’t able to do any repairs on it until we get the permits from the County of Maui. It is not currently being used as part of the hotel which is why you may not have recognized it.

How did they manage to make everyone look bad except for Anthony?

This is a very good question. They shot so much tape of us listening to each other speak, that the editors could use it in any order they preferred. For example, when a question is asked of Chuck or Michael, the editors cut out their real responses. Instead, they edited in clips that were not in the order that they occurred. For example, they filmed us reacting to something said in a totally different scene and used those ‘facial expression’ shots in places where they chose not to use our real responses, which made them look dumbfounded. Seriously, have you ever known either Chuck or Michael to be that silent?


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