Resort employees live aloha

PO‘IPU — Tony Pedroni, new general manager of Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club, deftly draped the napkins over his forearm and, with an equally-graceful motion, swept up the empty dishes from guests’ tables Monday.

Pedroni was doing his part, along with a group of other employees from the resort, to try to convey the meaning of May Day to their guests through the Third Annual May Day Celebration.

“I know how to do this,” Pedroni said. “So I just do it. I love this!”

On May Day, concierge Troy Lazaro got several of the other resort employees involved in staging a special May Day pageant for guests at an evening lu‘au.

“This is the first time they’re doing it with food,” said Sandra Muragin, the Waiohai’s executive administrative assistant, as she watched and photographed Lazaro ply his vocal magic on stage, while another employee, Ku‘ulei Cummings of the front desk, welcomed guests to the lu‘au with her hula rendering of “Beautiful Kaua‘i.”

“They work hard at this,” Muragin said. “Last year, we did it on the yard during the day, and everyone was welcome. This is the first time they’re doing it as part of the lu‘au.”

Muragin noted that there are several events where the employees get personally involved to “try and make their guests’ stay more memorable.”

On July 4, she said they did an impromptu dance, and at Halloween and Christmas, activities are more oriented to the children. May Day is, by far, their biggest effort, she said.

Linda Viado, the May Day queen who doubles as another resort concierge, proudly displayed her hairpiece.

“He (Lazaro) made this,” she said. “And, the dresses for the hula dancers, and almost everything. Troy worked really hard. He sewed all the items.”

Enlisting the help of Lopaka Bukoski and several of his acquaintances, Lazaro coordinated with employees of the resort’s different departments to pull the show together, using the service timeline to explain the different Hawaiian terminology as well as relay the significance of the May Day celebration.

“Can you say ‘u‘ala?’ That’s ‘sweet potato’ in Hawaiian,” Bukoski said as he worked with the audience of about 125 guests in the Kiawe Grill.

“Normally, it holds about 80 people,” Pedroni said. “But, tonight, we were able to get in about 125 guests.”

Chuck Brady of the resort’s Human Resources Department joined Pedroni and several of the employees’ relatives who stood outside the lu‘au area to watch.

Brady said the employees don’t receive extra incentives to do this. They do this on their own, but are compensated by the resort.

Arriving guests each received lei at the check-in, and Kwai Yen Kaohi, one of the greeters, switched off with another employee to do a Maori number in which she recruited three guests to join her on stage.

Many of the employees performed multiple duty in the pageant. Kenny Melchor of the Engineering Department was the kahili bearer, and did torch-lighting duty following the arrival of the members of the royal court.

Joining Viado as queen were her husband James Viado, as well as resort employees Betty (front desk), Ruby (guest relations Manager), and lei bearer Mel Tada, the resort’s assistant comptroller.

Some of the guest performers included musicians Gil Lorenzo and Ernest Carbonel, as well as Junah Hesapene, who dances with Na Hula O Kaohikukapulani. Hesapene’s role was the performance of the spectacular fire dance.

Other employees included Katrina (concierge), and Monay Asuncion.

“The lei is known the world over as a symbol of aloha, honor, and love,” Lazaro told the guests. “When you give a lei, you are giving a part of you. Likewise, when you receive a lei, you are receiving a part of the giver of the lei.

“A lei is more than a string of flowers. It is a deep and abiding part of our Hawaiian culture,” Lazaro said.

Lazaro said this year’s theme was Imua Me Ka Lei Ho‘okahi, which translates to “moving forward as one lei.”

• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com.

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