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Sheraton Maui security officer honored as top lodging employee statewide

By Staff | Jan 23, 2020

Outstanding Lodging Employee of the Year finalists are honored; pictured, from left, are Kanika “Nikki” Utley of ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach, HLTA President & CEO Mufi Hannemann, Lester Tanabe from Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, Outstanding Lodging Employee of the Year Kirk Togashi from Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, and Area Vice President Hawaii, Pacific Northwest and Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort General Manager Michael Jokovich).

HONOLULU – Hawaii’s tourism industry came together on Jan. 9 to honor the best and brightest hotel and lodging employees from around the state.

Nearly 1,000 hotel employees, their family members and other industry stakeholders gathered for the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association’s 30th annual Na Po’e Pa’ahana Awards.

The annual awards ceremony, which name translates literally as “the hard-working people,” was held in the Coral Ballroom at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Mufi Hannemann, HLTA president & CEO, said, “Each year, we come together for the Na Po’e Pa’ahana Awards to honor the finest and hardest-working employees in Hawaii’s hotel and lodging industry. It is our honor to be able to recognize these outstanding men and women for their efforts and accomplishments. These individuals are the backbone of our industry, and their impeccable service and embodiment of the aloha spirit is what truly sets Hawaii apart as a premiere destination. I am truly grateful for their contributions to our industry.”

Na Po’e Pa’ahana awardees are selected based on nominations submitted by their supervisors and co-workers, which are then judged on the basis of outstanding and exceptional service to lodging guests, co-workers and the community.

This year’s Na Po’e Pa’ahana Award winners and runners-up from Maui are as follows:

Outstanding Lodging Employee of the Year – First place, Kirk Togashi, Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa. Togashi has served as a security officer at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa for more than 23 years. In this role, he has saved lives, recovered lost property and shown hotel guests what aloha truly looks like.

Additionally, Togashi is active in his community, where he leads educational courses as the president of the Lahaina Shore Casters Club and volunteers as a coach for his daughter’s softball team.

Chef/Restaurateur of the Year – Tylun Pang, executive chef and director of food and beverage, The Fairmont Kea Lani. Pang is a 46-year veteran of the lodging industry, having worked in kitchens in Asia, South America and the United States.

He has demonstrated a strong commitment to the perpetuation of the Hawaiian culture, the use of local agriculture and the development of the next generation of culinary stars through his work with a local culinary school.

Manager of the Year – Kainoa Horcajo, The Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, third place;

Engineering/Maintenance Person of the Year, Large Property (over 450 rooms) – Mundy Gillcoat, The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, first place; Medium Property (200-450 rooms) – Lee Aaron Yap, The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas Resort, third place; Small Property (under 200 rooms) – Kyle “Kalani” Tihada, Napili Kai Beach Resort, first place;

Food & Beverage Person of the Year, Large Property (over 450 rooms) – Eduardo “Eddie” Domingo, Fairmont Kea Lani Maui, third place; Medium Property (200-450 rooms) – Gemsley Balagso, The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas Resort, first place;

Front Office Person of the Year, Large Property (over 450 rooms) – Giadee Kaiwi, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, first place, and Michelle Takahama, The Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, second place;

Housekeeping Person of the Year, Large Property (over 450 rooms) – Dennis Austria, The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, second place;

Security Officer of the Year, Medium Property (200-450 rooms) – Albert Tempel, Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, second place.

The Hawaii 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 Hawaii’s visitor industry through education, political action and membership benefits, and raising awareness about its contributions to communities throughout the state.