Nick Nishikawa retires after 13 years at Hyatt
Tag: Nick Nishikawa
A veteran in hotel management with almost three decades of experience under his belt, Nick Nishikawa is finally hanging up his uniform and retiring this month after 13 years of service as general manager of Hyatt Regency Saipan.
“I have rendered service at the Hyatt for 13 years and eight months to be exact. …Sounds long but it went by very fast. …Sometimes people say living a ‘resort life’ is very slow but not for me because every day, I have things [on] my ‘to do’ list and, at the same time, many things happen. …My day is not an ordinary hotel operation or walk,” he said.
Nishikawa’s work wasn’t only confined to hotel work; he was also active in the community. He was a board member of the Marianas Visitor’s Authority and helped promote Saipan to the Japanese market, an active member of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, and part of the Northern Marianas Business Alliance that fought for the extension period of CW-1 visas. He also led various fundraising activities to help various non-profit organizations in the CNMI, allowed his hotel managers to share their expertise to teach students at the Northern Marianas Trade Institute, and many more.
Nishikawa’s tenure on Saipan was not ordinary. He had a lot of challenges on his plate, and some even went beyond the scope of what hotel general managers around the world would expect from the job. “Super typhoons, economic downturn, CW-1 issues, the lease renewal of Hyatt ,and pandemic, I had to handle them. …My work experience over the years was definitely a huge help. You stay tough and I do not panic when the problem is right in front of me because you have to think of a solution to overcome,” he said. “I also believe that one person can only do so much. But if you gather everyone to look at the same goal and face the same direction, cooperation is not hard to achieve. With my Hyatt Saipan team, we accomplished many great things.”
According to Nishikawa, negotiating for Hyatt’s 40-year lease renewal for several years and finally getting it late last year was akin to a cherry on top of an ice cream before his exit.
“I understand why it took time because we all have to follow regulations but I would like to say to the government and to the community that, if we all aim to make the CNMI a world-class destination, a 40-year lease is not enough. Customers nowadays travel all over the world and they definitely compare hotels,” he said.
In terms of service, he said that Hyatt Regency Saipan’s level of service is incomparable “as local people work hard.” But re-investing in a hotel’s renovations becomes a hard decision when you only have 20 years to go in the lease, he said.
“After 10 [or] 15 years—a hotel is still OK, but on the 20th year, the hotel may need another upgrade. …I think renewal should be automatic for another 40 years. …Having old hotels on island is one of the reasons why the Japanese market went down…In reality, the people here do not lose anything, and in fact, when we keep improving the hotels, it will keep attracting tourists and make them repeat visitors,” he said.
Nishikawa will welcome the new GM next week. His identity is being withheld until his formal introduction to the Hyatt Regency Saipan family and the community but Nishikawa offered that the new GM is a 43-year-old French national and his recent post was executive assistant manager of Grand Hyatt in Seoul.
“This will be his first time to work as general manager and I believe this is a good training ground for him and place to rear his family. His specialty is in Food and Beverage and that’s why our restaurant in the hotel will go on a different level once he puts his touch into it,” he said.
Nishikawa said that one of the new GM’s early tasks will be overseeing the renovation of the hotel. “…Right now we are waiting for the design team to evaluate the building. Once pandemic restrictions are put at ease, they will come here. The team will come from Hong Kong, that is why it is quite difficult with the restrictions,” he added.
A life in Hawaii is the prize after retirement but that may have to wait for a while, according to Nishikawa. “Due to the pandemic, the hotel didn’t have much tourists or activity, so for two years I missed welcoming and talking to guests, walking around the restaurants, etc. and that is why I feel incomplete and I don’t want to finish my hotel career like this,” Nishikawa said.
At the same time, Nishikawa was offered a job as hotel manager of a newly opened Tokyu hotel located in Shinjuku—an offer that he has accepted. He said the hotel is located in a big city and his work will involve training personnel and overseeing the hotel’s operations.
He said this opportunity will also allow him to be a tourism ambassador for the CNMI. “Customers come from all over the world. It is very famous with foreigners and when they ask me where I would recommend them to go on their next destination, I will say Saipan right away,” Nishikawa said.
As Nishikawa count the days before he leaves for his next adventure, he said he will miss the beautiful scenery and people of Saipan. “I will miss jogging around American Memorial Park at sunset. It is a time that I feel close to nature. …For the people, I know everybody is tired being in this pandemic for two years. But I also know, it is in their power to lead the economy to get the islands back on their feet again.”
“I can’t think of one or two unforgettable memories while on Saipan because everything is unforgettable. The CNMI is a part of my life and I sincerely say that this is my second home. I will definitely come back with a different role, and that would be as a tourist.”