Ask The Mayor: Why do Hotels Still Block Public Beach Access?
Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his staff.
Q: Several years ago, I read that hotels were prohibited from placing lounges and umbrellas on the public beaches for their guests to use until the guests were actually present and requesting that service. All of the Wailea hotels seem to be following this policy except for one. I took a photo this morning before 7 a.m. showing over 30 umbrellas and over 60 lounges occupying nearly all of Polo Beach, with not a single hotel guest visible. The preemptive placement of the umbrellas in advance of customer demand has basically placed the large majority of this public beach under the control of the Fairmont Kea Lani. If this is not legal, why is it tolerated?
A: Mahalo for bringing this to my attention. The public must always have first access to our beaches and I am a strong advocate of keeping them open to our local families and residents.
The “pre-setting” of beach chairs as a commercial activity on public beaches is prohibited by state law. My staff notified the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources about this particular issue and they contacted their enforcement division, which made contact with hotel staff and documented the incident. Maui DLNR officials contacted my staff and told us that the hotel, for its part, showed a strong willingness to comply and understand that it is illegal to preset chairs on the beach.
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