A New Era For The Ilikai

By Isaac "Ike" Cockett
Wednesday - April 08, 2009
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By Isaac “Ike” Cockett
General Manager, The Ilikai Hotel

I have been the general manager at The Ilikai Hotel since July of last year. We have seen our share of tumultuous times recently, as you all know. Despite that, I feel we are poised for a new era for this iconic property.

First of all, I’d like to thank all of our guests, past and present, for their support. Letters and phone calls received from Hawaii and around the world have been very heartwarming, humbling and encouraging - keeping us optimistic for a bright future.


Our team at The Ilikai has worked so hard to keep our operations running smoothly and effectively. Most importantly, the relationship between management and all of our associates has continued to grow and is strengthened each day. We work with aloha among ourselves, and that extends to how we treat our guests. We all know that visitors come here to experience Hawaii’s uniqueness, and our aloha spirit, our culture, are key to that. And once they experience this, I know they will return.

I strongly believe that if you take care of your associates, they will, in turn, take care of your guests, and all of my managers embrace this philosophy, as well. In addition to providing a respectful and positive work environment, simple things like birthday cards signed by the management team on their special day and a new employee recognition program that rewards associates for exceptional service are examples of how we take care of our associates.

The Ilikai management team: (front, from left) Lorna Fukushima, Karlene Makalena, Lynn Murashige and Shelley Okubo; (back) Ike Cockett, Joe Bala, Michael Park, Heidi Kalepa and Laine Mizuno

Departmental managers have become more focused on finances and understand the impact that their decisions have on the feasibility of the entire operation. I have challenged my management team to think out of the box and come up with new ways to increase revenue, while significantly decreasing costs and maintaining a high level of guest service.

For example, while reviewing housekeeping costs, we uncovered an area of opportunity that fit all of the criteria. The end result was a cost savings in excess of $100,000 each month, without compromising guest service. Thus, we continuously strive to refine the operations.

Upon arriving at The Ilikai last July, it became clear that relations between the hotel and other business entities that co-exist on property were very strained. I approached (and continue to approach) many of those businesses with the goal of healing past wounds and jointly moving on to a better future. Afriendly and professional business relationship now exists between the hotel and the AOAO management team of Randy Kowalkowski and Sarah Persons. The same can be said of the relationship with Waikiki Marina Resorts and its regional vice president Joe Malone, and general manager of resort operations Luanne Bongiorno; and Elite Valet & Parking Services and its owner and operator Ryan Chun, and operations manager Kathy Purdy-Cazimero; among others. In addition, a number of strong relationships have developed with residents of The Ilikai, as well. We all look forward to the future and understand the importance of providing a great experience for all those who choose to either vacation or reside at The Ilikai.

Given the downward spiral of the global economy and the impact it is having on Hawaii’s travel industry, it is a real challenge for anyone in this business to remain in operation. With the support of everyone at The Ilikai Hotel, however, we remain focused on providing exceptional guest service while working to achieve a sound working environment.

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Most Recent Comment(s):

Isaac, good luck to you man. You have a tough job and you’re brave to take it. I wish the best for you and the dozens of owners at the Ilikai!

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