JACK Stark has spent 40 years in the tourism industry with a lot of that time at the Warwick Fiji Resort and Spa.
The Sigatoka man worked at the hallmark resort when it was called The Hyatt and has taken on a myriad of positions in holiday retreats all over the Western Division and even in the Cook Islands in his four decades of service.
But what many do not know is that the now general manager of the Tokatoka Resort Hotel started his working life as a school teacher.
"I taught English at St Thomas Primary School in Lautoka and got into the hospitality industry quite by chance.
"During school holidays, I took on a holiday job as a filing clerk at The Mocambo (now the Novotel Nadi).
"After that there was no turning back because the money was much better than what I was earning as a teacher," he said.
Mr Stark left The Mocambo and was part of the opening crew at Treasure Island Resort when Big Dan Costello first opened doors there.
"After a stint there, I joined Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa before taking on a role at UTC as a tour consultant.
"Thereafter I spent a few years at the Fijian again before joining the Hyatt where I spent some time before heading off to the Cook Islands where I joined The Rarotongan," he shared.
Stark returned after gaining valuable international experience at the leading Cook Island getaway and rejoined the Fijian.
"In 1990, I joined the Warwick Fiji and was there until I got transferred to Tambua Sands on April 1 and took on the GM's post to oversee refurbishments, upgrades and staff service upskilling.
"I jumped at the chance to be part of Tokatoka because this used to be the place to be and that is what I want to take the resort back to being," he explained.
When asked what the secret was to his longevity in the industry and success as one of a few locals to have attained the GM position in the booming tourism, resort and hotel industry, Mr Stark said the answer lay in being true to one's self and always trying to win over staff members by consistently acknowledging their efforts and contributions as part of the resort team.
"Once you win them over, your job is basically done because they will work with you to ensure that visitors enter the resort property as guests but find it hard to leave because of the warmth and generosity they have experienced," Mr Stark said.
Warwick International Hotels' takeover of Tokatoka Resort Hotel last week will see the 109-room holiday retreat undergo a number of changes in an effort to improve infrastructure and service.
"While the name and staff will not change, international and local guests can expect improvements in the rooms and service levels as we undergo refurbishments and training over the next 18 months," he revealed.
Mr Stark said the acquisition provided the Warwick Group with invaluable opportunity to provide improved service to their guests.
"Gone are the days when guests will have to get up at 2am to make their 8am flight in Nadi.
"We can transfer guests to the Tokatoka and assist them in getting up for their flights at a more reasonable hour," he said.
Tokatoka Resort Hotel joins Warwick Fiji Resort and Spa, The Naviti Resort and Tambua Sands as the Warwick International Hotels fourth property in Fiji.