When Jeff Zelaya found out he had been nominated for the Cayman Islands Tourism Association Stingray Award for Allied Employee of the Year, he was surprised and proud.
“I went to the office and opened a mail for me and saw I had been nominated. I was glad but said, ‘how could this be true?’ It was amazing.
“I had never been to the ceremony before, it was my first time. It was different, unbelievable. We were sitting at the table and I heard my name, I could really not believe that. I had never experienced anything like that. I was thinking that I must have done something good at my job and I gave the good Lord thanks and the staff of Camana Bay, the people that nominated me and the Stingray awards, too,” Mr. Zelaya said.
He had attended the awards with his wife and his co-workers and the atmosphere was amazing with everybody happy, he added.
Mr. Zelaya deals with set-ups for events and so on, having moved from maintenance.
“I deal with marketing as well. Come February I moved totally full time with the marketing, all the set-up for the events. If we have a function at Camana Bay, like Taste of Cayman, for example, I do most of the setting up of the site, putting everything in place – the tents, tables and chairs and all that kind of thing,” he revealed about his day to day job.
On the ground
Molly Dalby of the Camana Bay events team said that each member brought different perspectives, skills and ideas to the table.
“Because Jeff is the person on the ground he sees much more than the rest of us, including opportunities for improving setup processes that would otherwise go unnoticed.
“Despite the unusual hours and unpredictable schedule that sometimes come with the job, Jeff always has a smile on his face and is an absolute pleasure to work with. He goes to great lengths to ensure that every event held at Camana Bay runs smoothly. As a result, we often get glowing compliments from third party organisers who appreciate the pride that Jeff takes in making their events successful,” she said.
The Honduras Bay Islands-born worker’s father and grandfather both hail from Cayman and Jeff also has status, having first visited then began working for Camana Bay in 2007 in the janitorial department where he rose to a supervisory position then moved to the marketing department.
“For young people, I would say, whatever job you get in the tourism department do your best. Be friendly and nice to people, try and help wherever you can help and you will succeed,” Mr. Zelaya said.
“Tourism is very, very important for the Cayman Islands. We do not have these opportunities back home where I am from, so when you get them you have to embrace them and try and do your best to help people.”