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From Barbados to L.A. With Love: Rocking The GRAMMYs
February 09, 2010
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados - The experience of a lifetime!! These words best describe the time that we spent in Los Angeles for one weekend, compliments of Hilton Hotels. Okay... it all started with this little story.
While at work one day I stumbled upon a toy in our resort's Kids Club. I soon found out that this toy is called a ukulele and since I have a deep interest and passion for music, I began to teach myself to play the instrument. Before I knew it, I was playing nice music and eventually I wrote a song about the beautiful Hilton Barbados hotel where I am employed.
Weeks later, a competition hosted by our Hilton brand was posted and I decided to enter. I let my friend Shanika, hear the song I wrote and she loved it and in no time she had her sultry harmonies blended around the song. We entered the competition and we had no clue what the outcome would have been. While in our capital city, Bridgetown, my general manager called me and said that she needed me to come to the hotel so she couldtake a photo of Shanika and I to send off to the Hilton Global Headquarters with our entry. I tried my best to get around going all the way back to the hotel because I had not long left there. Within 10 minutes of her call I was back at Hilton Barbados in the confinement of my GM's office.
Suddenly her door burst open and all the Heads of Department and other administrative staff engulfed the room and encircled Shanika and I. On speakerphone we heard, "Hi, my name is Bob Brooks (Vice President. Brand Culture and Strategic Initiatives, Hilton Hotels brand) and I'm looking for Kamar and Shanika." Instantly I realized what was taking placed and all ability to speak was taken from my possession. I was so awestruck when I heard him announce that we had been chosen as one of the eight grand prize winners, receiving an all expense paid trip to the GRAMMYs in Los Angeles.
It seemed like one minute we were standing, in our General Manager's office and the next minute the door to a limo was opened for us in Los Angeles and it was lights, camera, action! An entire camera crew was recording us as we exited the luxurious vehicle up until we checked in at Hilton Checkers, in downtown Los Angeles. If you pinched me I would not feel it. This hotel was immaculate. A nice vintage feeling and talk about excellent service! Wow! Shanika was all smiles! Over this weekend we met all the other winners and their guests and we all bonded quite well since we were in the same basic age range. So many different personalities and cultures but we were all bound by one thing...MUSIC!! These guys were absolutely amazing and I know they were just as excited as us.
Saturday, January 30, 2010, was one of the most fantastic days of my life. Who wants to receive a V.I.P tour of Universal Studios??!! Count me in!! From about 9:30 a.m. until 3:40 p.m. we were treated to the most exciting time any human being could ever imagine. The tour included scary monsters like Shrek, Frankenstein, The Mummy Returns and even Jaws! Everyone was fascinated by the cute and cuddly Spongebob but what took the cake was the expo on how the cars in Fast & Furious were made to explode. Talk about amazing... I still can't believe how realistic it all looks!
Words can't describe the amount of fun this brand new Hilton family had on this excursion. It was definitely the experience of a lifetime. Later that afternoon we walked in the Avenue of Stars in Hollywood and that too was pretty cool, especially taking a photo with a wax sculpture of Snoop Dogg! We left Universal Studios pretty enthused and our final stop for the night was Trader Vic's. This is one of the local diners and has good food and atmosphere. I totally loved it. The highlight for me was when one of our own winners Rodney Herrera, a Team Member at Hilton Los Angeles Airport and his guest, Jerome Lim, took over the diner's live band and gave us some beautiful vocals and ‘strings'. We all loved it and even went the extra mile to form a train line around the diner to the delight of everyone. After a night of food, music and interviews, we went to a karaoke bar and sang the night away.
Today was the big day, THE GRAMMY'S BABY!! Around 12:30 p.m. the Hilton pre-GRAMMY brunch was slated to begin. Everyone graced the rooftop of Hilton Checkers in their finest attire and they all looked gorgeous. Four of the eight Hilton winners were asked to perform and once again they all stepped up to the plate.
Consistency is a HiltonBrand Standard and these guys performed just the way they did in their winning entries or even better. I thoroughly enjoyed Rodney Herrera and Jerome Lim, Adam Wood of Hilton Wilmington Riverside and Christian, Mary and Ashlee of Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel and the guy with the biggest personality, Lee Herrera who works in Hilton Reservations in Dallas. That's my guy right there.
As we watched them all perform one by one, I became a little nervous because I knew my time was drawing near. In the blink of an eye, my gorgeous colleague Shanika and I had to be onstage. While performing and enjoying every minute of it, my mind began to drift. It was honestly a privilege to be chosen to perform at the pre-GRAMMY brunch in front of all the Hilton executives and clients. After we finished performing I heard everyone singing our song and I could not believe my ears. It was definitely a sense of fulfillment and joy. I cued up my ukulele and began to play another one of my songs that I wrote. I added some vocals. Shanika recognized the song and began to sing along but gave me a look of bewilderment like, "this is not supposed to happen."
She began singing along but didn't know that I was singing for her. The song was entitled, Breathless. My nerves lead me to give a speech thanking Hilton for the opportunity, thanking Shanika for singing with me and also for allowing me to get to know her as more than just a friend.
"I really want to take this relationship to the next level by asking you Shanika, will you marry me?" And out from my pocket pops a beautiful engagement band. She was speechless, her hand shaking and me smiling. A little pause for composure and then, the most beautiful words I ever heard. Yes. Only I heard yes but I wanted everyone to hear so I positioned the microphone closer to her mouth and I heard it again. YES!! Boy I could run from Hilton Checkers to Barbados and back without breaking a sweat. I was really overjoyed when she said yes and I knew I blew her away because she had no idea that this would have taken place.
When I looked around the rooftop, all the women were in tears and I was like, my goodness, this is really a special moment. I could not help smiling. Shanika, in her beautiful ivory gown, was just as ecstatic as me, or perhaps more! Next location? The 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards!!
When we arrived on the red carpet we felt like stars! LL Cool J shook our hands and congratulated us on our engagement! I still haven't washed my hand up to this moment! We saw loads of other superstars as we strolled along the carpet and posed for the cameras. The actual awards were fantastic and boy did we have a great time. The most enjoyable performance was Pink. Unfortunately we had to leave the banging after party extremely early because we had a very early flight out of L.A and we had not even packed.
I regret not being able to say goodbye to all the lovely people we met and lifelong friends we made. Big ups to Larry Chi...we really enjoyed the time spent with you and we want to thank you for making the weekend as enjoyable, fun-filled and casual as it was. Never once did you or Bob Brooks or any of the other executives make us feel intimidated by the positions you hold and that is what I most respect about you. Thanks to Hilton for choosing us as one of the winners in this competition, for even posting the competition and for all that you afforded us in the most amazing four days of our lives. Thanks on behalf of Shanika and I for your best wishes on our engagement and I can tell anyone that with Hilton, travel will certainly be more than just A to B. From Barbados with love!!
Kamar Gall, Pool and Beach Attendant, Hilton Barbados, is a one year Hilton Team Member.
Shanika Haynes, Cashier/Hostess, Hilton Barbados, is a five year Hilton Team Member.
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