Remembering Gordon “Butch” Stewart, Sandals Resorts Founder and Travel Sector Icon

The environment realized Gordon “Butch” Stewart as the guy who popularized Caribbean all-inclusive resorts, beginning with Sandals Montego Bay in 1981 and growing it into a multi-island behemoth with 23 properties (and counting) under 5 models in 7 nations. The Caribbean realized Butch as one of its fiercest champions, a single whose vision, drive, and promoting dollars place the islands on the radar of sun-starved tourists in research of a worth-packed getaway. Jamaicans knew him as an intensely happy son of the soil, a plain-spoken powerhouse powering a clutch of corporations that offer every thing from fridges and Porsches to newspapers, and who after led the financial commitment team powering the privatization of the now-defunct airline Air Jamaica.

But to me—and any individual who at any time worked for him—these mammoth achievements are 2nd to what we remember about Mr. Stewart. (If you worked for him, he was never ever “Butch.”) 

I labored in community relations for Sandals in the Montego Bay—Mo’Bay, to locals—head place of work from 1993 to 1997. The initially time we achieved, Mr. Stewart christened me “Sample,” a nod to my height. (I’m 4’10.”) He under no circumstances termed me any other identify when I worked there, nor a long time afterwards when we’d see each and every other at market situations. In his signature striped shirt and aviator sun shades, Mr. Stewart would swagger above like a bow-legged cowboy, his belly unapologetically top the way, give me a massive hug, and inquire, “What yuh saying, Sample?”

A younger Gordon “Butch” Stewart

Courtesy Sandals Resorts

I keep in mind how excited I was to fly with him in his personal jet for the to start with time we had been heading home to Jamaica from Antigua, wherever Sandals experienced opened a vacation resort in 1991. He’d prolonged the invitation as casually as if he had been giving to share a taxi, nevertheless I didn’t realize he was severe till I read him ask another person to “tell Johnny”—one of his pilots—“to get the airplane prepared.” Talk to anyone who labored for Mr. Stewart and you’ll listen to of very similar kindnesses quietly extended. Extensive prior to the company’s non-revenue, the Sandals Foundation, was proven in 2009 to endorse health care, instruction, and environmental recognition in the islands wherever its resorts run, Mr. Stewart compensated for unique staffers’ medical fees out of his very own pocket and utilised his organization connections to support others.

He was supportive, much too. When I nervously questioned him to make it possible for me to choose a sabbatical from my placement to acknowledge an editorial internship at a magazine in New York Town, he agreed with only two conditions: “Never fail to remember exactly where property is, Sample. And come back again within just 6 months.”