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Na Po‘e Pa‘ahana Awards Best in Hospitality Industry

January 10, 2019, 4:15 PM HST (Updated January 10, 2019, 4:15 PM)
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The Hawai‘i’s hospitality industry honored the best-of-the-best of its employees at the 29th Annual Na Po‘e Pa‘ahana (the hard-working people) Awards on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2019. Nearly a thousand employees, family members and industry representatives from throughout the state gathered for the luncheon ceremony, which was sponsored by the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association, and held at the Sheraton Waikīkī.

A total of 65 awards were presented at the event. Courtesy photo.

We’re proud to recognize the hard-working individuals who are the heart and soul of our visitor industry,” Mufi Hannemann, HLTA president & CEO, said. “They number in the tens of thousands across the state, and this year we’ve been able to recognize more than 60 of the best across small, medium, and large hotels throughout the state. All of the Na Po‘e Pa‘ahana honorees embody the aloha spirit at work and in the community, and we are truly grateful for their contributions to the success of our industry.”

 Recipients of HLTA’s accolades are selected based on nominations submitted by their supervisors and co-workers, and are judged on the basis of outstanding and exceptional service to lodging guests, co-workers and the community.

 A total of 65 awards were presented at the event, emceed by KHON2 co-anchors Howard Dashefsky and Marisa Yamane.

Mika Kamanao, Front Office VIP Coordinator of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, was named the Outstanding Lodging Employee of the Year. Kamanao has 33 years of hospitality industry experience; coupled with her knowledge of Hawai‘i,  help her to personalize every interaction with Aulani’s most respected guests, which include celebrities, dignitaries, and Make-A-Wish families.

Derek Bacigal, Director of Engineering for the Hale Koa Hotel, was awarded Manager of the Year. 28-year-old Bacigal is the youngest Director of Engineering within the Armed Forces Recreation Centers in the State of Hawai‘i. The millenial supervises maintenance for the 818-room hotel, as well as oversees the renovation projects currently underway at the Hale Koa which total over $108 million.

Interstate Restoration was named HLTA’s Allied Member of the Year. Allied members are the non-lodging businesses of the association.

“Rachel Lii and Interstate Restoration are always exceptionally generous and supportive of our HLTA membership and the community,” said Hannemann. “Not only do they generously donate to many of our signature events, including the General Membership Meeting, but they’re involved in many of our activities like the Engineers Advisory Council and Hospitality’s Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs (HYPE). They’re always willing to donate prizes and sponsorships, even when they have not been asked.”

This year’s event introduced two new awards. The first, entitled Pūlamahia, which means “to care for and cherish Native Hawaiian culture” in Hawaiian, was presented to the Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel and accepted by General Manager Mike White.

 “Mike started ‘Project Po’okela’ in 1986, which put employees through quarterly native Hawaiian culture classes,” said Hanneman. “The Kaanapali Beach Hotel offers their staff a wide range of over 70 language and cultural classes, on paid time, which encourages the staff to create special initiatives on property, like the hotel’s Hula O Na Keiki competition, which just celebrated its 28th year.”

 The second, the Allied Individual of the Year Award, was presented to Carol Shimomura, Vice President for Employee Benefit Sales for Pacific Guardian Life.

 “This award, conceived by past HLTA Chairperson Gregg Nelson, aims to recognize an individual whose efforts prove a passion for our industry—and Carol is a prime example of that,” said Hannemann. “She frequently recruits teams and participants for events like our Scholarship Golf Tournament, while also providing sponsorships, and is a great addition on our HLTA executive board as our new Allied at-large representative.

 The 2018 Na Po‘e Pa‘ahana Legacy Award was presented to Tihati Productions, the largest and longest-running entertainment company in the state. Co-founders and high school sweethearts Cha and Jack “Tihati” Thompson have been entertaining locals and visitors alike for 50 years, as of this year and have been generous sponsors of many local charitable fundraisers.

“They also played a key role in the establishment of HLTA’s Don Ho Legacy Scholarship, which is granted annually to a student of native Hawaiian ancestry and pursuing a career in music and the arts,” stated Hannemann.

This year’s Na Po‘e Pa‘ahana award winners and runners-up are as follows:

Outstanding Lodging Employee of the Year

  • 1st Place – Mika Kamanao, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
  • 2nd Place – Nancy Jones, Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikīkī Beach Resort
  • 3rd Place – Oralani Koa, The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas

Manager of the Year

  • 1st Place – Derek Bacigal, Hale Koa Hotel
  • 2nd Place – Randi Okuhara, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani
  • 3rd Place – Tylun Pang, Fairmont Kea Lani

Bell/Valet Person of the Year

Large Property (over 450 rooms)

  • 1st Place – Dibiano Bontog, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
  • 2nd Place – Christopher Segi, Trump International Hotel Waikīkī
  • 3rd Place – Chad Nakamura, The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort

Medium Property (200-450 rooms)

  • 1st Place – Derek Clemente, The Kahala Hotel & Resort
  • 2nd Place –Vance Patao, The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas
  • 3rd Place – Dennis Yap, OHANA Waikīkī East by Outrigger

Small Property (under 200 rooms)

  • 1st Place – Mark Guerrero, Maui Beach Hotel
  • 2nd Place –  Travis Waltman, The Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head

Engineering/Maintenance Person of the Year

Large Property (over 450 rooms)

  • 1st Place – Susan Iwasa, The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort
  • 2nd Place – Daven Arcangel, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa
  • 3rd Place – Barry Yokoyama, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

Medium Property (200-450 rooms)

  • 1st Place – Neal Nitta, Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort
  • 2nd Place – Anacleto Sagucio, Courtyard by Marriott Waikīkī Beach
  • 3rd Place – Pono Kahili, Embassy Suites by Hilton Waikīkī Beach Walk

Small Property (under 200 rooms)

  • 1st Place – Brian Perreira, Lawai Beach Resort
  • 2nd Place – Allan Sagucio, Wyndham at Waikīkī Beach Walk
  • 3rd Place – Juan Baptista, Aston Mahala at Kaanapali

Food & Beverage Person of the Year

Large Property (over 450 rooms)

  • 1st Place – Patrick Ongjoco, Sheraton Waikīkī
  • 2nd Place – Todd Mitsui, Trump International Hotel Waikīkī
  • 3rd Place – Kan Wat, Halekulani

Medium Property (200-450 rooms)

  • 1st Place – Keola Lasconia, Embassy Suites by Hilton Waikīkī Beach Walk
  • 2nd Place – Raylynn Kanehailua, Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Ocean Club
  • 3rd Place – Roger Arrieta, The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas

 Small Property (under 200 rooms)

  • 1st Place – Leonardo Dasig, The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club

Front Office Person of the Year

Large Property (over 450 rooms)

  • 1st Place – Khrisna Fabian, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
  • 2nd Place – Kelly Ann Wright, Prince Waikīkī
  • 3rd Place – Kanoa Lacerdo-Magallanes, Sheraton Waikīkī

Medium Property (200-450 rooms)

  • 1st Place – Samoa Leilua, The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas
  • 2nd Place – Kalili Pavao, The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas
  • 3rd Place – Lynn Sato, The Kahala Hotel & Resort

Small Property (under 200 rooms)

  • 1st Place – Channy-Lyn Motoyama, The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club
  • 2nd Place – Debra Arakaki, Pagoda Hotel
  • 3rd Place – Cassel Kanahele, Hokulani Waikili by Hilton Grand Vacation Club

Housekeeping Person of the Year

Large Property (over 450 rooms)

  • 1st Place – Adelina Cambe, Sheraton Waikīkī
  • 2nd Place – Merlita Bagalcsa, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa
  • 3rd Place – Olive Tuimaunei, Turtle Bay Resort

Medium Property (200-450 rooms)

  • 1st Place – Lordy Tamayo, The Kahala Hotel & Resort
  • 2nd Place – Romeo Cabilis, Courtyard by Marriott Waikīkī Beach
  • 3rd Place – Idena Bumanglag, Ilikai Hotel & Luxury Suites

Small Property (under 200 rooms)

  • 1st Place – Elvira Valmoja, Lawai Beach Resort
  • 2nd Place – Cecelia Rabang, The Lotus Hotel at Diamond Head
  • 3rd Place – Dominador “Domi” Flores, Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons – Kalanipu‘u

Security Officer of the Year

Large Property (over 450 rooms)

  • 1st Place – Kenneth Coyaso, Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club
  • 2nd Place – Anthony “Tony” Kaahanui, Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa
  • 3rd Place – Marcus Curimao, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa

Medium Property (200-450 rooms)

  • 1st Place – James LaFave, The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas
  • 2nd Place – Si’i Savou, The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas
  • 3rd Place – Donald “DondiViquelia, Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club

Small Property (under 200 rooms)

  • 1st Place – George Tandal, Sr., Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons – Kalanipu‘u

 Allied Member of the Year – Interstate Restoration

The company was recognized as an invaluable member of the HLTA for its support of Hawai‘i’s visitor industry and the community.

Allied Individual Member of the Year – Carol Shimomura

Shimomura, a vice president for Pacific Guardian Life, was nominated for this inaugural award for her exceptional contributions to HLTA, which range from her committee involvement to her board service and more.

Leader in Sustainability Award – HYATT Hotels Hawaii

HYATT was honored for the hotels’ exemplary sustainable practices, which have been implemented in their daily operations across the islands. 

Hospitality Educator of the Year – Lorelle Peros, University of Hawai‘i – Maui

Peros was for recognized for her continuous contributions to the visitor industry, her community, and her students.

Na Po‘e Pa‘ahana Legacy Award – Tihati Productions

Tihati Productions was honored for its enduring and instrumental role in Hawai‘i’s visitor industry through the field of culture, arts, and entertainment over the past five decades. They now entertain in over 50 shows across the state.

Excellence in Community Service Award – Hanalei Colony Resort

The Hanalei Colony Resort was awarded for their commitment to supporting their Kauai community. Though they are closed for operations indefinitely due to the heavy rains, the Hanalei Colony Resort still opened their doors to local residents to provide spaces for key services including school.

Woman of the Year Award – Laura Richards, Hanalei Colony Resort.

The award, presented by HLTA’s Women in Lodging & Tourism, saluted Richards for her leadership in the hospitality industry, community, and the committee.

Pūlamahia Award – Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel

The Pūlamahia Award acknowledges the persistent efforts made by the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, to preserve and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture with both their staff and their guests.  

Chef/Restaurateur of the Year – John Salcedo, RUMFIRE, Sheraton Waikiki

Salcedo was selected for his significant contributions to Hawai‘i’s culinary industry and the community.

About the HLTA

The Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association is a statewide organization representing hotels, condominiums, timeshares, other lodging entities, suppliers, and related firms and individuals. HLTA is dedicated to supporting Hawai‘i’s visitor industry through education, political action, and membership benefits, and raising awareness about its contributions to communities throughout the state.

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