Hotel Engineers: Hidden Assets

The hotels you visit may differ in appearance by city and country, but the people who work in them have similar jobs. I speak of bellmen and valets, front desk staff, housekeepers, chefs, groundskeepers, and food and beverage personnel.

All are essential to a memorable stay. But there is a cadre of very important hotel employees who go largely unseen and unappreciated by guests who are vital to the successful operation of any property. It’s the engineering staff.

Engineering in the hotel industry doesn’t have quite the same meaning as the traditional definition. These are not people designing roads and sewers. Rather, a hotel’s engineering staff is responsible for the infrastructure of a property. It is the engineering staff that ensures the electricity and plumbing are working, that swimming pools and fitness rooms are clean and safe, that emergency systems function, that all of the myriad repair and maintenance services of a hotel aspects that we take for granted are provided seamlessly and efficiently.

Members of the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association recognize the importance of these professionals, and each year honor the state’s top engineer and maintenance persons through our Na Poe Paahana (the hard-working people) awards program.

In addition, under the auspices of HHLA, engineers have established the HHLA Engineers Advisory Council to enable engineers to bone up on the best practices, new government laws and regulations, and new technologies available to the hotel industry.

This council offers an excellent opportunity for engineering teams from Hawaii’s many lodging properties to network with others in the industry and neighboring properties, as well as gain insights into improving daily operations and embarking on capital projects.

Dues are $50 a year for HHLA member properties and $100 for non-members. Non-members also pay a $30 per person meeting fee. Membership is exclusively for lodging engineers, assistants and maintenance personnel. For more information, contact Engineers Advisory Council coordinator Tina Yamaki of the HHLA, at

A sampling of past seminars and workshops sponsored by the council provides a glimpse into the dynamic environment of the profession: ensuring that hotels are prepared to comply with new laws requiring designated parking spaces for electric cars, controlling pigeons that enter outdoor dining areas, maintenance issues affecting everything from pumps and sumps to kitchen equipment and airconditioning, fire safety and coordinating responses with the fire department, grease traps and recycling cooking oil, cyber security and advancements in environmental design. And at a recent HHLA-sponsored seminar, compliance with the new standards required by the Americans with Disabilities Act was covered.

A session with Hawaiian Electric Company exposed engineers to opportunities to increase the use of renewable energy, incentives to adjust energy use, and taking advantage of new technologies and electricity pricing programs. Keeping our hotels running efficiently, safely and successfully falls on the shoulders of many people in the visitor industry, and none more so than the engineering staff.

Kyle Cremer

Position: Mechanic
Location: Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club

“Ace” might be the best word to describe mechanic Kyle Cremer, a key member of the Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club engineering staff.

Kyle has come to the rescue time and time again, devoting extra hours to ensuring the hotel operates smoothly and guests are treated to the best the Marriott has to offer. He was able to fix broken swimming pool heaters when no one else could. He personally programmed 700 new televisions by arriving at work hours early to complete the job.

He’s always willing to go out of his way to help co-workers or guests. Kyle’s general manager says, “The can-do spirit is an indispensable attribute of successful people and a dominant trait in Kyle. He always approaches challenging problems with optimism, determination and perseverance.”

He has allowed the hotel to use his truck for the annual Koloa Plantation Days Parade float and helped decorate it, and is a regular contributor to the Visitor Industry Charity Walk, Kaua’i United Way and Children’s Miracle Network.