Gordon Casco is proud of his nickname, the “Ambassador of Aloha.” The Maui native likes to show off all of the great things about Hawaii—from cultural to the land to the weather (although he admits that it can sometimes get cold, relatively speaking).
And for the past 28 years, Casco has been showcasing his home state to visitors of Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club as a guest services aide. But because he takes such great pride in the culture of the area and the culture of the hotel, Casco has gone above and beyond his call of duty to help tourists get the most out of their visit to the island. That passion led to his recently being named as one of Marriott International’s JW Marriott Award recipients.
“I grew up two miles from the property. My dad used to take me fishing along the coastline right across from the Marriott,” Casco says. “This is my home. I grew up in this area and I feel like the tourists that come over are like family, who are visiting me at my house. I’m proud to represent Maui and to share my culture with them.”
He’s not kidding when he talks of guests as “family.” Casco has an uncanny ability to remember guests’ names. He’s been known to see guests of the hotel offsite, such as in a local store, and address them by their names. On one occasion, he ran into some guests he recognized while shopping. He greeted them by name, and then realized they hadn’t even checked into the resort yet.
Casco’s journey to his current role began nearly three decades ago. He says that he got into the business because he “was lucky.” “One of my friends became a supervisor at the Marriott in guest services, and I had just moved back from California where I attended junior college,” he recalls. “When I came back, he thought that with my personality and background in the area I would be a good fit. He gave me a shot.”
And the job was indeed a natural fit, mainly because of Casco’s love of the island. “I like to show off how we were brought up (he is one of seven children in his family),” he says. “When we were growing up Lahaina only had a ‘mom and pop’ restaurant and a gas station and grocery store. I like to show off how it’s changed.”
Things have certainly changed for Casco during that time as well. Today, he’s been married nearly 23 years and his wife works close by in the property’s vacation ownership sales. Together, they have three children—two sons, who are currently away at college, and a daughter, who attends a local high school.
All three of his children are professional hula dancers. In fact, Casco sometimes invites guests of the hotel to luaus to watch their performances. He says it’s all part of the fact that he likes to share the culture of the area with guests. “I just like to share our culture, talking about fishing, the land, and how our grandparents used to work in the pineapple fields and the sugar fields,” he says.
Having worked at the hotel for so long, Casco has seen changes in travelers as well. “When I started we were the only hotel in the area, so we got a lot of the conventions,” he recalls. “We’d show them the best hospitality we could, but today the guests are more like friends.” In that regard, it is not surprising that Casco has developed many close relationships with recurring guests.
Casco doesn’t spend all of his time at the hotel. When he’s not working he like fishing in the Pacific Ocean and coaches golf at a local high school. “I used to be the head coach, but I stepped down a couple of years ago. Now, I’m an assistant coach,” he says. He says he stepped down as head coach because one of his sons played baseball and he needed the time to watch him play.
Casco says he loves his job. “It’s not a job for me,” he says. “Being here and greeting people feels like greeting friends and family who are coming to visit. I love what I’m doing.”
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