Tacata, Abreu named top associates at Kaua’i Marriott

Editor’s note: This is the first of two stories about top associates at the Kaua’i Marriott Resort & Beach Club. This week: associates of the year. Next week: managers of the year.

KALAPAKI BEACH — One of them is polite almost to a fault (almost), and the other is your typical, fun-loving, happy-go-lucky local boy.

They are James Tacata and John Abreu, respectively, and they are, also respectively, the Kaua’i Marriott Resort & Beach Club 2005 heart of the house and front of the house associates of the year.

At the Kaua’i Marriott Resort & Beach Club, the heart of the house associate of the year is Ho’oikaika, and the front of the house associate of the year is Ho’olauna, both chosen from monthly winners in their respective categories.

Tacata, a houseman in the housekeeping department, wouldn’t stop calling his interviewer “sir,” and explained it is simply a title of respect to those he services, and to those he sees as above him.

Described by his superiors and coworkers as the “best of the best,” they said Tacata never grumbles, willingly volunteers for overtime and special projects, and makes sure all guest requests are handled quickly.

Quiet and humble, Tacata gives 110 percent effort every day, and his fellow associates love working with him, according to his supervisors.

Among Tacata’s duties are cleaning public areas, sometimes cleaning guest rooms, serving as a guest-request runner, and serving on the MRT (Make Ready Team), he said.

He joined the Kaua’i Marriott Resort & Beach Club in June of 2002, after working at the former Radisson Kauai Beach Resort (now the Kauai Beach Hotel & Resort near Hanama’ulu) after coming to the island from his native Philippines.

His wife Hilda and daughter Sarid, 5, are still there, and he visits them at least once a year, he said.

So dedicated to his job, and so willing to help out others, he was working as a guest-request runner on the night of the Fourth Annual Na Hoku O Kaua’i (The Stars of Kaua’i) Marriott Associate Holiday Party.

He was called to the ballroom by supervisor Donna King, director of housekeeping. At first, he thought she needed him to do some work.

“I thought she needs something from me, so I went down there,” he said. King did not mention why she wanted Tacata to report to the ballroom, he said.

When he got to the ballroom, he heard his name, saw himself on the big screen, and was called up to the stage to accept his award.

“I’m overwhelmed,” he said of his reaction. The award came with a $500 prize.

He works various shifts and positions, depending on King’s needs for him, he said. “They call me ‘reliever,'” he added.

He shook his head when asked if there is anything he doesn’t like about his job. “Everything I like.”

The Hanama’ulu resident is honored to receive the award, but doesn’t really see what all the fuss is about. “It’s my job” to make sure he does everything that the guests need, and always works hard to make sure guests are happy and satisfied, he said.

“That’s our goal.”

Like Tacata, Abreu of the bell and valet division of the guest services section performs many duties over the course of his shift and work week.

There is some clerical work involved, some shuttling of guest vehicles, shuttle driving, check-ins, checkouts, delivering of bags, and picking up of bags, he said.

The work keeps him in pretty good shape, he said, and that helps for when he plays adult soccer on his days off.

On busy days, he helps unload 30 or 40 vehicles a day, and runs, walks fast or catches the shuttle van to pick up 60 to 70 guest vehicles a day, he said.

Because it means more people valet park and that means more tips for he and his co-workers, Abreu isn’t too inconvenienced about construction work that has kept closed the guest parking lot nearest the porte cochere.

“I really like that we interact with a lot of people,” he said of what he likes most about his job. That has made him more of a “social” person, he said.

He also likes the physical nature of the work, in an outdoor setting, because it keeps him in good shape and breathing fresh air, he added.

“All-around, I like it. We have great management, good people working all around, great location.”

The Kaua’i High School graduate was born and raised in Lawa’i, and now lives in Koloa.

His regular shift is 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., with Sundays and Mondays off. That changed a little bit, though, with Christmas falling on a Sunday in 2005. “I work every holiday,” said Abreu, who is single.

He readily shares his knowledge of the island with guests, and always with a smile, according to his supervisors. Friendly, reliable, helpful and very service-oriented, Abreu is a great person to have on the team, his nominators said.

Abreu is a good communicator, and is great with the guests, his supervisors said.

When he learned at the holiday party that he had won the Ho’olauna award, “I was just in shock. I didn’t believe it.”

When superiors started describing the winner, he didn’t think they were talking about him, he said. He figures Ben Napoleon, lead manager, guest services, nominated him for the award.

Napoleon is a good manager to work for, Abreu said. “Oh, yeah, he’s awesome. He works with us, helps us out,” said Abreu, who also won $500 with his award.

The awards were handed out at the Fourth Annual Na Hoku O Kaua’i (The Stars of Kaua’i) Marriott Associate Holiday Party. The theme was “Black and White,” and there was an air of elegance in the ballroom, those in attendance said.

As associates entered the ballroom on a red-carpet run-way, they were swarmed by “paparazzi” of Kaua’i High School Academy of Hospitality and Tourism students snapping their photos.

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