When Japan’s Sendai earthquake unleashed a violent tsunami back in March, the Big Island of Hawaii wasn’t spared--particularly its western coast. And while thankfully no one was seriously injured, the damage nonetheless forced our property to shut down, with sand and debris flooding the resort grounds.
What could easily have turned into a nightmare scenario--out-of-work staff, property damage, and lost revenue--was made infinitely better by the spirit and camaraderie of our talent. Within six weeks we were back up and running, learning some incredibly valuable lessons along the way.
Throughout the closure, Four Seasons staff were kept on and paid (with benefits). More importantly, they were blessed with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cross-train across departments, with everyone from housecleaning to food and beverage pitching in to help reopen.
Angee Lincoln-Smith, for her part, didn’t waste any time paving the way. Shortly after the tsunami struck, the Beach Tree server sanded railings and doors, power washed the outside entry to each room, and sealed grout in each of the affected guest rooms. Ask Angee about her favorite "task," and it would have to be sealing grout. “I loved it because I didn't have to stand still in one spot,” she laughs. Over six weeks Angee formed close friendships with other staff, like housekeeper Salvador Gonzales. “That was the best thing about the time our resort was closed--getting to know other work groups. It definitely brought us all closer.”
The revitalized property now barely hints at the meticulous, painstaking efforts required to nurse it back to health. Our "Bucket Brigade," for example, was tasked with removing sand from spots so tiny that only a shovel could reach (under the oceanfront suites, for example). And to replenish sand lost from the beaches, all grains were sifted by hand to retain their uniformity. Not the most glamourous job, to be sure, but for team members like Angee, simply all in a day's work.