Visitor Industry Employee Awards

Mufi Hannemann
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January 18, 2012 | Hawaiian Airlines Discount Share

Masako McCarter

Each year for the past 22 years, the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association has honored the men and women who provide the exceptional service, professionalism, and aloha that have distinguished the state’s visitor industry from its inception.

This has been accomplished through the annual Na Po’e Pa’ahana (“the hard-working people”) awards program, which recognizes the employees who are the heart and soul of our top industry, tourism, and contribute in so many ways to a strong economy, to their families and communities, and to a better Hawaii.

HLTA member organizations from throughout the islands nominate employees in eight categories:

1) bell/valet person, 2) engineering/maintenance person, 3) food and beverage person, 4) front office person, 5) housekeeper, 6) manager, 7) security officer and 8) outstanding lodging employee. An allied member also is honored.

The top three in each category were announced at the Na Po’e Pa’ahana luncheon held Jan. 13 at Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, and HLTA chairman Kelvin Bloom and I had the pleasure of presenting awards to these terrific people. They are:

Bell/Valet Person of the Year: (first) Ronald Casallo, Service Express Attendant, Westin Maui Resort and Spa, Lahaina; (second) Chad Nakamura, Parking Valet, Royal Hawaiian, Honolulu; (third) Kaimi Kaneholani, Door Attendant, St. Regis Princeville Resort, Princeville.

Engineering/Maintenance Person of the Year: (first) Richard Coloso, Head Irrigator, Grand Wailea, Wailea; (second) Nelson Galano, Engineer 1st Class, Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa, Lahaina; (third) Virgilio Ganal, Carpenter Foreman, Moana Surfrider-A Westin Resort and Spa, Honolulu.

Food and Beverage Person of the Year: (first) Guy Becicka, Bartender, Westin Maui Resort and Spa, Lahaina; (second) Terry Harris, Server, Wailea Beach Marriott Resort and Spa, Kihei; (third) Pilipina Flores, Hostess, Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows, Kohala Coast.

Front Office Person of the Year: (first) Hiroe Yanagisawa, Royal Hawaiian, Honolulu; (second) Michelle Aquino, Front Office Agent, Kaanapali Beach Hotel, Lahaina; (third) Brad Momohara, Guest Service Agent, Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club, Kapolei.

Housekeeper of the Year: (first) Marylou Raquel, Housekeeper, Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa, Honolulu; (second) Shufen Ng, Housekeeper, Waikiki Resort Hotel, Honolulu; (third) Cristiana Mamuad, Housekeeper, Outrigger Reef on the Beach, Honolulu.

Manager of the Year: (first) Lynette Eastman, Area General Manager, Aqua Waikiki Wave and Waikiki Pearl, Honolulu; (second) Kelly Zane, Banquet Manager, Sheraton Waikiki, Honolulu; (third) Brendan Tsukiyama, Director of Front Office Operations, Westin Maui Resort and Spa, Lahaina; (Honorable Mention) Virginia De Guzman, Executive Housekeeper, Aston at the Executive Centre Hotel, Honolulu.

Security Officer of the Year: (first) Larry Triplett, Security Officer, Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa, Kailua-Kona; (second) Matthew Neely, Security Officer, Sheraton Waikiki, Honolulu; (third) Harvey Keanoano, Safety and Security Officer, Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and Spa, Honolulu.

Outstanding Lodging Employee of the Year: (first) Masako McCarter, Administrative Assistant to the Controller/Food and Beverage Director, Royal Hawaiian, Honolulu; (second) Roy Yokoyama, Bell Captain, Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and Spa, Honolulu; (third) Chris Kiaha, Bartender, Beach Bar, Moana Surfrider-A Westin Resort and Spa.

Allied Member of the Year: Bank of Hawaii.

Hawaii’s top employee will be submitted for consideration in the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Stars of Industry national competition. Hawaii has produced the top employee in the entire nation for three consecutive years; we hope to make it four straight.

Ernesto Estrada

As I have stated before, 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 outstanding 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 in this welldeserved tribute to their accomplishments.


Ernesto Estrada

Position: Maintenance Worker
Location: Waikiki Joy Hotel

Maintenance worker Ernesto Estrada makes the long trek from Ewa Beach to the Waikiki Joy Hotel every workday without fail and still manages to arrive at least a half-hour before his shift begins.

That’s typical of Ernesto, who completes his assignments efficiently and quickly, and with little supervision. His calm demeanor makes him an excellent choice in dealing with guests’ concerns or problems. As a key member of the staff, he covers the noon to 8 p.m. shift five days a week, and is the only maintenance worker on duty for half of his workday. Despite the many responsibilities, Ernesto is resourceful and reliable and highly respected by his co-workers.

Ernesto Estrada shares his skills with friends and family outside of work, helping them with household repairs during his free time.

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