Wilton Dabrio first began working in the Cayman Islands back in 1983 as a gardener.
And since then he’s performed roles in the tourism industry for various clients including Caribbean Club and his current role in Islands Club.
His continued success was recognised at the Cayman Islands Tourism Association’s Stingray Awards 2012, where he received a long service award.
“I was first told about it a week before the event and received a letter of congratulations telling me I was nominated, which felt good,” said Mr. Dabrio, 70.
“I am a bit shy with crowds if I am involved in it but at the end of the day everything went well and I felt good about it.”
Prior to his Cayman Adventure, Mr. Dabrio trained in Stone Hill, Jamaica and on one memorable occasion cooked rice and beans for Norman Manley.
“He told me I sure could cook,” he said.
“When the Playboy Hotel opened I worked there for three months, but they said I was too young as they had bunnies coming down from the States. I then worked for 16 years at Johnson’s Drive In then quit to come to Cayman after I met my wife.”
After some shenanigans with work permit applications, Mr. Dabrio joined his Caymanian wife and their children to reside in Grand Cayman where he initially was self-employed. His longevity, he said, is down to a central philosophy of hospitality.
“I like catering for the public; I get along good with people. My feelings in life are that you should have a pleasant countenance at all times. Have manners and respect for guests and make them feel as comfortable as possible.
“If you do not give good service they will not come back so you help in whichever way you can and put people first,” he said.
Casting an eye on the younger generation, Mr. Dabrio said he feels that attitudes have changed.
“I don’t understand that youngsters, even with a good education, don’t take the jobs that are there. It may not be that office job that you want but you are earning. I see parents buy their kids cars and things for leaving school but this means kids don’t know what it is to have no money. They need to try it, work hard. When I came here it was not easy. I was cutting hedges, earning what I could.
If you are getting paid then go at it and still seek what you really want to do. “Raking the beach as a job might make you want to be a manager so grab at a job, do your best, maintain yourself, be disciplined and respectful and try and work your way up,” Mr. Dabrio said.
Government and parents have a responsibility to guide the younger generation and teach them respect, he added.
“Honesty is No. 1. Without that you will not get anywhere. I do not lie; my father taught me that and I live that way. Discipline, respect and manners are key – you have to respect yourself before you can learn what it is to be respectful. Give it, then you get it back,” he said.
Now in his eighth decade, he is not ready to put his feet up quite yet.
“My father lived to 100, my uncle died at 105 years of age. I really enjoy my job and intend to keep it as long as I can,” he added.