Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, founder and chairman of Sandals Resorts International, has died at the age of 79. The Jamaican-born entrepreneur was the founder of Sandals Resorts and Sandals Resorts International, which includes Beaches Resorts.
His son, Adam Stewart, deputy chairman of the Sandals Group, said in a statement that his late father was recently diagnosed with an illness but chose to keep the diagnosis private.
“A singular personality and an unstoppable force who reveled in defying the odds, exceeding expectations and whose passion for his family was matched only by the people and possibility of the Caribbean, for whom he was a fierce champion,” said Adam in a memorandum that was issued to Sandals Group executives about his passing. “While I need to be with family right now, I look forward to speaking with you soon and sharing thoughts about the incredible future of this company built by this most incredible man. Until then, and to use the words of his iconic sign off, this one last time, All that’s good,” the memo concluded.
Stewart’s successes have garnered hundreds of personal and industry awards including Jamaica’s highest national distinctions, and his philanthropic efforts are diverse. Sandals and Beaches Resorts currently give active support to more than 150 major projects in its host communities through its philanthropic arm, The Sandals Foundation. This support ranges from the building of schools to the paying of teachers, to providing hospitals with linens, to bringing healthcare to the doorsteps of those who cannot afford it.
In 2012, Stewart founded the Sandals Corporate University, aimed at providing professional development for employees through reputable education and training programs. With access to more than 230 courses and external partnerships with 13 top-ranking local and international universities, every staff member can apply, broaden their knowledge, and advance their career.
“I had heard of the concept, yet at the time, the services and rooms were very basic. Contrary to that, I envisioned we could bring forward a luxury resort to offer customers so much more. So, we perfected it. Only the most comfortable king size four poster beds, fine manicured gardens, cozy hammocks and the kind of warm, refined service the Caribbean has become known for. Just as important was to be located on the absolute best beach, because that’s what everyone dreams of.”
“The passing of Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart has come as a real shock, and Jamaica has lost someone who was, without doubt, the most outstanding, creative and successful businessman and private sector leader of my generation,” said Bruce Golding, Jamaica’s former prime minister, in a statement. “Butch Stewart was emblematic of Jamaica’s capacity for greatness. The Sandals empire that he built over the last 40 years etched its brand in the leisure market of the world and made him a global icon. Our resounding success in tourism owes much to his imagination, marketing genius, and his relentless pursuit of perfection.”
In 1981, Stewart bought Bay Roc, a rundown hotel on a magnificent beach in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Seven months and $4 million in renovations later, Sandals Montego Bay opened as the flagship of his all-inclusive resort chain.
While Stewart never laid claim to inventing the all-inclusive concept, he is recognized worldwide for his tireless effort to elevate the experience. “I had heard of the concept, yet at the time, the services and rooms were very basic. Contrary to that, I envisioned we could bring forward a luxury resort to offer customers so much more. So, we perfected it. Only the most comfortable king size four poster beds, fine manicured gardens, cozy hammocks and the kind of warm, refined service the Caribbean has become known for. Just as important was to be located on the absolute best beach, because that’s what everyone dreams of,” he had commented.
Today, Sandals Resorts International operates nine resorts and three private villas in Jamaica, three resorts in Saint Lucia, three in the Bahamas, one in Antigua, one in Grenada, two in Barbados, one in the Turks & Caicos Islands, and its newest property which is in Curacao. At the time of his passing, he was also working on a property in St. Vincent.
He is survived by his wife, Cheryl, children Brian, Bobby, Adam, Jaime, Sabrina, Gordon, and Kelly; grandchildren Aston, Sloane, Camden, Penelope-Sky, Isla, Finley, Max, Ben, Zak, Sophie, Annie and Emma; and great grandchildren Jackson, Riley, Emmy and Willow.
Those wishing to share memories, condolences or personal stories may do so at AllThatsGood@sandals.com
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