Hospitality Suits


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Hitting the ground running, Parker has paid much of the West Side a visit. He has made a pilgrimage to Ka‘ena Point, and he recently enjoyed fishing with chef Michael Mina, where the chef hooked a 60-pound ‘ahi (photos by Ola Collective).

Charlie Parker, the 42-year-old General Manager of The Four Seasons Ko‘olina is a known explorer who relished traveling the world in his quest to live an inspired life.

But he’s remained steadfastly true to his vocation in the hospitality industry, which was a part of his formative years and helped him find wedded bliss. He met his wife Rebeca Selley, a former Four Seasons manager, while they were both on a leadership-training seminar in Singapore. After an international courtship and a blessing from Four Seasons founder and chairman Isadore Sharp, the pair became the first two general managers in Four Seasons history to have gotten engaged or married.

But Parker’s love affair with hospitality began long before he met Selley. His father, Alan Parker, was a hotel executive, who at one time was responsible for Holiday Inn Europe, Middle East and Africa. Growing up, Parker lived in Scotland, England, Germany and Belgium and also visited many places, especially famed water spots that offered sailing and diving.

“We would visit properties with my father and take vacations around the world. The chance to experience different places and different cultures appealed to me,” Parker says “I knew from a very early age that hospitality was what I wanted to do.”

It was a cosmopolitan life, but it wasn’t always glamorous. By age 15 or 16, he was working as the kitchen steward at the Holiday Inn at Brussels Airport, one of the properties under his father’s leadership.

“I remember starting at 6 a.m. I would come in and there would be a pan with scrambled eggs cremated to the base and I would spend the first 45 minutes of my morning trying to chisel it off,” Parker says.

Parker said the job was tough, but he thrived because of the generosity of an older French-speaking kitchen steward, Khemis from Morocco, who took him under his wing.

“He didn’t speak any English, but we made it work using my pidgin French and his expertise,” Parker shares.

“Seeing our young staff at work, I was reminded of this experience. Hospitality’s appeal for me has always been the interaction with our colleagues and guests.”

During the course of his two-decade career with Four Seasons, Parker has had lots of opportunity for interaction. He has moved about 10 times and has worked in up to seven different countries across the continents.

Selley says Parker demonstrates what hospitality means to him by “putting all his heart, energy and time in everything he does regarding his job.”

Parker reveals he’s doing what he loves to do and that has been the secret of his success. Finding a hospitality company that aligned with his personal values hasn’t hurt either.

“I’ve always felt very comfortable working for Four Seasons. Isadore Sharp, our founder and chairman, set the tone from the beginning. We follow the Golden Rule, treat others as you would have them treat you,” Parker shares.

Parker’s career with Four Seasons has taken him from London to Las Vegas, to Newport Beach, Calif., to the Maldives, Qatar, Egypt and Hampshire, England.

Parker says he enjoyed all of those appointments, especially his time aboard the Four Seasons Explorer, a 128-foot catamaran that slept 22 guests.

“We went to outer atolls in the Maldives, places where tourism had yet to touch, and it was a very powerful experience,” he said.

Now, he’s enjoying the chance to see the Hawaiian version of that rule, the aloha spirit, in action, he says.

“There’s a warmth and genuineness here that is unique to Hawai‘i,” Parker says. “I feel very privileged to be here with this team. Hawai‘i made so much sense for me on a personal level. My wife and I have a two-and-a-half-year-old son, Sebastian. We felt Hawai‘i was a great place to come for our young family.”

While it’s too early to tell where his Hawai‘i explorations will lead, Parker, who is diving certified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, already has discovered some of the west side’s best diving spots.

“I’ve visited Mermaid Alley and Electric Beach,” he says. “From what I’ve seen here, the marine life seems vibrant and the water is clear and warm.”

He recently enjoyed fishing with star chef Michael Mina near Ka‘ena Point, where the chef hooked a 60-pound ‘ahi. While the fresh seafood was plentiful, Parker passed on sampling the catch.

“He loves all that is related to ocean life, has lived in various resort destinations, loves sailing and funnily enough, he cannot eat fish or seafood as he is allergic,” Selley says.

One thing Parker’s not passing up is the chance to satisfy his craving to learn about Hawai‘i’s unique culture. He’s already partnered with Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum to showcase the Aa, Prince Kuhio’s circa 1902 racing canoe. He has made a pilgrimage to Ka‘ena Point and he’s been introduced to hula by Kumu Hula La‘akea Perry, who teaches at the resort and leads an award-winning hula halau from Wai‘anae.

While Parker says it’s too soon to tell whether an Explorer catamaran or something similar would be the right fit for Ko Olina, he’s looking forward to sharing the story of Hawai‘i’s marine experiences and of the people, who bring cultural depth to the destination.

“Our guests want to be able to engage with the destination and I feel that we have a responsibility to engage with the community,” Parker says. “All of what O‘ahu and the resort here in Ko Olina has to offer are elements that are close to my heart. I really look forward to working with the team here to find ways to enhance those elements.”

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