Novotel Queenstown Lakeside has bid a fond farewell to houseman Neri Ma on his 82nd birthday, after 14 years of service at the hotel.

Originally from Rarotonga, Neri landed in Queenstown on holiday. After staying one night at the Novotel he enjoyed the place so much he decided to work at the hotel and started as a houseman the next day. As a previous Employee of the Year winner, Neri is well regarded at the hotel and describes his role as “the best job I’ve ever had with good people and like a happy family.”

Known for his active lifestyle, including daily 14km walks and evening gym visits on top of his already physical role, retirement will see Neri a two month holiday to USA before he relocates to Invercargill to oversee the renovation of two of his properties.

Former general manager Carlos Braddock said “Neri is a standout employee with stellar customer service, as well as love and care for the hotel team. He instinctively knows what to do and just gets on with it and we wish him all the best for his next chapter.”

Novotel Queenstown Lakeside general manager Jim Moore said “It is long time staff members such as Neri that defines a culture within an organisation. Neri is really much more than just a staff member, he is like family that brings stability, knowledge and sets the example for others. In the last two years we have said farewell to three staff, and between them had 66 years of tenure which is an astonishing amount of time – we really hope that Neri and the others enjoy their retirement and continue to visit us and their Queenstown family whenever they are in town.”

Neri retired on his 82nd birthday on 29 January with the hotel hosting a birthday and retirement afternoon tea.