Aqua Hospitality continues to embrace diversity with newly updated specials and packages for LGBT travelers. The company's "Out and Proud" and "Free To Be" packages add a special aloha to any holiday in Hawaii whether to get married, celebrate a romantic occasion or simply relax in tropical paradise.
And gay travel experts like Zachary Moses of HE Travel in Key West, Florida, are hoping this is a trend that continues.
“I think they will experience some success with this,” says Moses. “Until now, not much has been done to actually make gay people feel welcome at these straight dominated establishments. The assumption was that gay people would just keep coming.”
Moses says many gay guest houses have been doing same sex packages for decades. In recent years, however, there has been lots of buying up of gay guest houses and switching them to all welcome facilities. What this has done, says Moses, is cause a huge deficit in gay specific packages.
Here is the breakdown of the new Aqua packages:
Free to Be
Couples can celebrate their unions with the Free To Be package at any Aqua Hotels and Resorts hotel on Oahu. Pairs can enjoy the excitement of Waikiki, then retreat to one of 12 stylish properties. Included in this package is a Kama Sutra Getaway Love Kit with a bottle of sparkling wine, chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, copy of eXpression. Magazine and a coupon for two free Mai Tais at Hula's Bar & Lei Stand, a popular establishment with views of Diamond Head and the Pacific Ocean that caters to visitors and locals. An optional Saturday Hula's Catamaran sail around Diamond Head is also available for purchase when couples stay over a weekend.
Out and Proud
The Out and Proud special offers savings across Aqua Hospitality's three hotel brands. Clients can save an additional 10 percent off best available rates at select Lite Hotels throughout Hawaii and 15 percent at all Aqua Hotels and Resorts hotels on Oahu. Guests also receive a copy of eXpression. Magazine and a coupon for two free Mai Tais at Hula's Bar & Lei Stand.
For dining enthusiasts, other Out and Proud specials include a free dining credit with a minimum stay as follows:
Clients staying at Aqua Kauai Beach Resort can earn a $50 credit for every three nights booked to use at any of its three on-site dining venues; clients staying at Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head, a Monogram Hotel can earn a $50 credit at Park restaurant for every three nights booked and clients staying at Volcano House, a Monogram Hotel can earn a $50 credit at The Rim restaurant or Uncle George's Lounge, both overlooking the crater, for every two nights booked. Aqua's LGBT specials and packages are available now through December 31. The specials and packages are valid on new reservations at participating Aqua Hospitality properties in Hawaii and cannot be combined with any other offer or special.
Aqua Hospitality is a proud supporter of diversity with its ongoing commitment to the LGBT community. Aqua is a member of International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) and all hotels are approved by the Travel Advocacy Group (TAG), which recognizes hotels with LGBT-friendly policies and services.
"Aqua has always celebrated diversity within our company and at our hotels as evidenced by our Travel Advocacy Group stamp of approval for hotels with LGBT-friendly policies and services," said Elizabeth Churchill, Aqua's senior vice president of sales and marketing, in a written release. "This year we wanted to celebrate the marriage equality law in Hawaii and our long-standing commitment to the LGBT community by offering these specials and packages."
State court Judge Karl Sakamoto upheld the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013 on January 29, declaring it constitutional under both the state and federal constitutions.
In October 2013, Hawaii State Representative Bob McDermott and three other individuals challenged the constitutionality of the Hawaii Legislature’s authority to enact a law that would allow same-sex couples to marry in Hawaii.
The Hawaii Marriage Equality Act went into effect on December 2, 2013, making Hawaii the 15th state to recognize marriage equality. The State Department of Health’s records show that more than 670 same-sex couples have married in Hawaii since then. In addition, more than 230 same-sex couples have requested licenses to marry, meaning that the number of same-sex couples married in Hawaii will soon exceed 900.
And of the states that recently passed same-sex marriage laws in the United States, look no further than Hawaii and New York as perhaps the two most popular among gay and lesbian clients.
In fact, an estimate from a University of Hawaii researcher says the law to allow same-sex marriage in Hawaii is expected to boost tourism there by $217 million over the next three years.
The study’s author has said Hawaii would benefit from pent-up demand for gay weddings, with couples spending $166 million over those three years on ceremonies and honeymoons.
Hawaii’s marriage laws allow couples to register for a license and be married the same day, a process conducive for tourists only in the state a short time. Couples can sign up for a license online, and then be verified by any license agent throughout the state. Agents have set up shop throughout the islands.