[ INSIDE HAWAII INC. ]
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jon Gersonde, hotel manager of the Royal Hawaiian, has more than 20 years of experience in the industry and has worked on Maui and in California.
Royal Hawaiian hotel manager expects robust holiday season
Question: How sold out is the holiday season?
Answer: It's going to be a strong holiday season.
Our Thanksgiving bookings are very brisk. They're ahead of last year's pace.
This year we're doing a lunch and dinner buffet for Thanksgiving. We're expecting the Christmas and New Year's holiday bookings to be equally as strong. We generally sell out.
» New job: He has been appointed hotel manager of the 577-room Royal Hawaiian in Waikiki.
» Old job: Complex general manager for the Westin Mission Hills Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He previously was general manager of the Kapalua Bay Hotel & Ocean Villas on Maui and hotel manager of the Westin Maui.
» Born and raised: Michigan.
>> Experience: Before joining Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Gersonde worked in Australia, Guam and Asia in food-and-beverage management for Hyatt International for 12 years.
How is business?
A: The Royal Hawaiian is having an outstanding 2005 with growth experienced in all markets.
Extensive renovations of the tower guest rooms were completed in 2004 and have further enhanced the increasing popularity of this landmark property.
At present, all indications are that 2006 will be equally strong.
Our spa, the Abhasa Waikiki Spa, has plans to expand in 2006. The spa not only attracts hotel guests and other visitors in Waikiki, but local residents as well.
Q: What's your daily routine?
A: My God, every day in the hotel business is a different day.
Generally it's spending time with customers and our staff. And obviously planning, coordinating everything we do as managers everyday. We have a large amount of repeat guests at this hotel.
It's so historical and our guests are so unbelievably loyal, it's fabulous.
Generally speaking, I begin my day by walking the property, chatting with guests and staff, checking on the operations.
It's really giving a lot of attention to the client, being as visible as possible.
Q: What brought you back to the islands?
A: My family, myself, we spend a lot of time in Hawaii, the Pacific. The people are so genuine, which is what encouraged us to come back. My wife is from the Pacific and my kids were all raised out here.
Q: What got you into the industry?
A: I worked in restaurants in high school and that created a fond interest for the industry, which is really what sparked my interest to major in the field in college. I had a great hotel school so it's a natural migration.
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