Watching guests come, enjoy and then go was the job description but over time, it became more.
It’s the truth; the word ‘goodbye’ is a daunting one but it’s a word that cannot be avoided.
And just like the visitors of any hotel, it is time for Tanoa Tusitala Samoa’s General Manager, Jason Strickland, to say his goodbyes.
After three years of service, Mr. Strickland will be moving to Tonga this Saturday but it’s no easy task when he arrived three years ago as a stranger, and leaving as part of a family… Tanoa’s family.
“The journey, I can say, has been one of growth and it is one of the best jobs I have ever had in my career. It was challenging at times but the team has really come a long way,” he told the Weekend Observer.
Pondering over highlights of his journey wasn’t easy as there were numerous ones for Mr. Strickland.
But after a moment, he began.
“Some of the highlights was being one of the main accommodation providers for the S.I.D.S. conference and having all the dignitaries here,” Mr. Strickland said.
“We are the hotel of choice for international rugby teams; can’t go past the All Blacks visit to Samoa and how fantastic that was for the nation.
“That was a highlight, I remember Samoa being defeated by the All Blacks but still walking around Samoa feeling like they’d won.
“That was an incredible day; it was good seeing everyone celebrating. Other highlights have really been the relationships starting to be embraced by the Samoan community.
“Just like the college of fine arts, our relationship with the arts school. Just slowly getting to know people and learning the Samoan way and working in harmony and unison; it’s been a really back and forth relationship.
“I have learnt a lot and hopefully my team has learnt a lot.”
Asked for one significant part of his journey that he will never forget, Mr. Strickland says, the teamwork.
“People say this a lot; but it’s really the significance of team work,” he said.
“We have been very fortunate that over the last three to five years since we’ve been open that we’ve retained some of our key staff members.
“That shows and starts transferring to the guest experience so we have regular guests coming here; they’re also part of the family so that’s really the standout for me.”
Asking what he will miss most may have been a tough question to find an answer to for Mr. Strickland but it was one that must be asked.
“What will I miss? Gee let me think; I will miss all the activity,” he said.
“We have so much fun at this hotel and we always have something different. I just miss the dynamic nature of the hotel and the family that makes it all so dynamic.
“A lot of fun events; the fashion show, I mean it was awesome. Building a stage over the pool and it was like if anyone tells you that you can’t do something; Samoa and Tanoa proves that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.”
Asked for a few inspirational words for his staff as they go onto the future without him, Mr. Strickland says to always enjoy what you do.
“Inspirational words? I don’t know about inspirational,” he began.
“Just like a sporting team, I make a lot of comparisons between my team and sporting team, if you want to be successful then the forwards have to play with the back, you’ve got to listen to your coaches, you have got to be disciplined and you have got to show up.
“It’s just the discipline and it’s really important, especially in hospitality, that you enjoy what you are doing because that transfers to the guest experience.
“Samoans and Pacific Islanders are known for their hospitality so just keep up the good work guys, keep the dream alive and go for it.”
And as one of his last parting words to his Tanoa family, Mr. Strickland sums it all in three words. ‘Onwards and upwards’.
Tanoa held a staff award celebration yesterday which was also a farewell for Mr. Strickland.