I usually don't mention changes in management a Hawaii's Hotels and Resorts, but when the changes are at the two largest properties in the islands and involve men who have made such a significant impact not only on their resorts, but also on the community as a whole, it is well worth mentioning.
On Wednesday, February 13, 2008, Hilton Hotels announced major management changes in the management of their Hawaii properties. Gerhard (Gary) Seibert area vice president and managing director for Hawaii will retire as of Friday, February 15. Noel Trainor, long-time general manager of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa will also leave this week after 24 years of service to Hilton. Finally, Dieter Seeger, general manager of Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island since it's conversion to a Hilton in 1993, is also retiring Friday.
Gerhard SeibertSeibert was the newcomer to Hawaii having assumed his position in 2005 following the retirement of Peter Schall, who was a 40-year veteran with Hilton. He had previously served as area vice president for Hilton Hotels Corporation and general manager of the historic Palmer House Hilton in Chicago since 2000.
Noel TrainorNoel Trainor leaves after more than 30 years in the hotel industry. He joined Hilton in 1984 as Assistant Director of Food & Beverage at the Hilton Hawaiian Village and was quickly promoted to Director of Food & Beverage. In this capacity, he supervised the development and opening of seven new dining, beverage and entertainment outlets, part of an extensive $100-million hotel renovation and a major upgrade to Hilton’s 150,000 square feet of meeting space. Under his guidance and vision, Hilton Hawaiian Village’s signature restaurants, Bali by the Sea and the now closed Golden Dragon, have garnered numerous prestigious awards at the local and national levels.
In 1989 Trainor was promoted to Regional Director of Food & Beverage for Hilton Hotels in Hawaii. He assumed the position of Resident Manager of Hilton Hawaiian Village in May 1991. In this capacity, he supervised the day-to-day operations of Hawaii’s largest resort. In May 1994, he was promoted to General Manager, with broad responsibilities for the hotel’s administration and business management.
During his tenure, Hilton Hawaiian Village has gained high visibility and industry-wide recognition for its food and beverage, and resort operations. The hotel and its many services have been frequent award winners in consumer and trade surveys that rank customer satisfaction, facilities, meeting and convention capabilities and overall service. During that time he has been known for his community service serving on numerous boards, societies and non-profit organizations in the islands.
Trainor's wife, Lisa Lahela, is of Hawaiian ancestry and his two daughters, Leimomi Noel and Leimana Shannon attend Kamehameha Schools. The Honolulu Advertiser reports that Trainor expects to remain in Hawaii and continue to serve the community.
Dieter SeegerDieter Seeger began his career with Hilton Hawaii in 1967 as director of food and beverage for Maui Hilton. He later served in various executive positions at the Kona Hilton, Hilton Hawaiian Village and Turtle Bay Hilton.
Seeger has been the general manager of the 1,240-room Hilton Waikoloa since 1993 when the resort was converted from a Hyatt to a Hilton property. Within just a few years he brought the resort to the number one ranking of all Hilton resorts worldwide.
In July 2005, Seeger was awarded the distinguished Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce Pualu Award as Member of the Year. The award was in recognition of Seeger's commitment to improve the lives of West Hawaii residents through his dedication and commitment to the future of Hawaii's keiki (children). Seeger created the ever popular Dolphin Days Summer Fest as a way to recognize the one-year birthday of three baby dolphins. It has since blossomed into a tremendous fundraising mechanism over the past decade with over $400,000 donated to the Hawaii Shriners Hospital for Children and the Pacific Marine Life Foundation.
Na Lima Hana, a philanthropic program spearheaded Seeger with 100 volunteer team members, has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for various outreach programs including Hawaii Island United Way and the Hawaii Island Food Bank.
I have had the pleasure of meeting both Noel Trainor and Dieter Seeger while staying at their respective resorts. Both men will be greatly missed.
What's next?It is unclear as to the reasons for this shakeup in Hilton Hawaii management. Last October, Hilton was acquired by New York-based The Blackstone Group for $26 billion and it is hard not to imagine that these changes are in some way tied into the new corporate ownership.
I can only hope that these changes do not forebode the end to Hilton Hawaii's commitment to the community and to their charitable endeavors and a move to a more bottom line philosophy of management. Only time will tell.