Lots Of Heroes In Visitor Industry

Mufi Hannemann
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November 09, 2011 | Hawaiian Airlines Discount Share

Brian Hunnings and Nancy Gorospe with the author

Nancy Gorospe and Brian Hunnings of the Moana Surfrider ... Chizu Burmeister of the Waikiki Beach ... Roy Robins of the Royal Hawaiian ... Roldan Blando of Marriott Ko Olina ... Raul Herrera, Princess Kaiulani ... Julie Manuel, Hilton Hawaiian Village ... Barbara Brandvold, Hyatt Regency ... Troy Hiura, Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach ... Tammy Omoso, Ilikai ... LeeAnn Lee, Best Western Coconut Waikiki ... Paul Dun, Aqua Island Colony ... Alan Oku, Sheraton Waikiki ... James Asuncion, Best Western Coconut Waikiki ... Robin Zukeran, Marriott Waikiki Beach.

If these names sound familiar to you, it’s because we’ve featured them as “Tourism Heroes” on the pages of MidWeek. Maybe they’re members of your family. Maybe they’re your neighbors or former high school classmates. Or maybe they’ve greeted or helped you when you visited their workplaces.

These are the men and women who are the lifeblood of Hawaii’s economic engine, tourism. They are the heart and soul of the visitor industry, the people who make our hotels and lodgings hum, who serve and help guests, and who enable us to compete year after year against destinations across the globe.

For the past 21 years, the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association, through its Na Poe Paahana (“the hard-working people”) awards program, has honored those individuals who’ve demonstrated the exceptional service, professionalism, and aloha spirit that distinguish our industry. Member organizations from throughout the Hawaiian Islands nominate employees in eight categories: (a) bell/valet person; (b) engineer/maintenance person; (c) food and beverage person; (d) front office person; (e) housekeeper; (f) manager; (g) security officer; and (h) outstanding lodging employee.

Nominations closed at the end of September, and the Na Poe Paahana winners will be recognized at a gala awards luncheon on Jan. 13 at the Sheraton Waikiki.

The first place winners in the Na Poe Paahana outstanding lodging employee and top manager are submitted for consideration for the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Stars of Industry program. Just so you know how exceptional Hawaii’s employees are, consider that Nancy Gorospe and Brian Hunnings, fountain dispenser and manager at the Moana Surfrider-A Westin Resort & Spa, respectively, were the nation’s top employees in the AHLA’s large property (301 rooms or more) category.

This was the third consecutive year Hawaii produced the top employee; the 2010 recipient was Leticia Gamiao of the Aqua Waikiki Wave and the 2009 honoree was Buster Civerolo of the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.We can have the best of everything: a beautiful tropical setting and hotels with the plushest of furnishings and every modern convenience.

But all of this would be for naught if not for the thousands of dedicated workers who provide the service and share the aloha that bring visitors to our shores time and time again. And that’s why we salute the best of the best each year and provide well-deserved recognition here in MidWeek.

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