As he greets customers at the Crowne Plaza Christchurch’s front desk, Levi Tamaiparea is just about everything a traveller appreciates – friendly, approachable and charismatic.

Levi has been a guest service agent since the hotel opened in July last year, and says it’s been ‘absolutely fantastic’.

‘It’s prestigious. On its old site, it had a reputation – a place where locals and visitors went when they came to Christchurch. So to be a part of new history … I’m quite proud to be working here,’ he says.

The 23-year-old is a passionate ambassador for hospitality and likes to create a memorable experience for the guests. ‘I treat everyone the same,’ he says. ‘Anyone who comes in those doors, they’re a fresh face, even if I have met them before. Doesn’t matter where they come from, they always get the same service that I strive to give everyone. Anything I can do to help someone feel welcome, I will do that to every single person.

‘Working in hospitality is definitely my strong suit. Ours are some of the first faces they’ll see when they arrive in the country, and it generally gives them an idea of what our country is going to be like.’

It’s not the first time Levi has worked in frontline tourism, he spent three-and-a-half years at Punting on the Avon, which helped build his confidence. From a shy teenager at Shirley Boys’ High School, ‘I’m now friendly, talkative and readily available if people need help.’ he explains.

‘Punting was the perfect place to learn to do that – dealing with people, not only locals but international visitors as well.’

Levi was introduced to the Crowne Plaza by a friend he had punted with and who was also a concierge on the hotel’s former site in Victoria Square.

‘I had two days training before I was in a uniform and out there on the front desk checking people in,’ he laughs.

As a teenager Levi aspired to wear a uniform of another sort. ’I had dreams of joining the military all throughout high school, so I went and gave that a go. Turns out it’s not my cup of tea, at all … I thought I’d do a complete transition, something relaxing, tranquil, like a punting tour of the river. It was a huge transition but it was definitely the right decision to make.’

And now the highlight of his day at Crowne Plaza Christchurch is at the beginning of the shift when he turns up ‘to an awesome workplace, happy, smiling and ready to go'.

WORDS Kineta Booker PHOTO Cassandra Kovacs

FeaturesBlueprint Ltd