Gordon Stewart, the founding father of Sandals Resorts passed away on Jan. 4, 2021 at the age of 79.
Gordon “Butch” Stewart was known as an incredible innovator within the industry. He was an inspiring and charismatic man who was a very popular figure. He always made everyone, employees and guests, feel welcome at his resorts. Stewart, without a doubt, set the bar high for luxury accomodation within the Caribbean.
Travel agents are likely to miss Stewart as much as anyone. He always championed and acknowledged their role in Sandals’ success.
Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, paid his respects describing him as a man who dreamed big; a pioneer and trailblazer. He concurred with Stewart´s son Adam who had described him as a superhero. What he did for the region and for the islands definitely didn’t go unoticed by those in charge.
Chastanet remembered him as a young Director of Tourism within the 1990s. The Prime Minister convinced him to start something in Saint Lucia. His three hotels ctreated 2000 jobs and his the legacy and impact is indisputable. Few individuals have been as key to the remaking of the Carribean as a holiday destination.
Stewart was a marketing and branding genius with the growth of his Sandals chain becoming famous worldwide.
His influence and achievements made an indelible impact on Jamaica and subsequently across the whole Caribbean.
Despite his humble beginnings, he competed against some of the most biggest names in tourism to create a successful and revered network of hotels across the Caribbean. This wouldn’t have been easy and required a person with unique skills and a huge drive.
As Stewart himself explained he got his start not with resorts, but with manufacturing air conditioners, founding Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) in Jamaica in 1968.
As with the resorts he was the underdog competing against bigger brands. This didnt stop him from becoming the market leader within one year however.
Stewart was born in Kingston, Jamaica on July 6, 1941 and grew up on the North Coast, now home to several Sandals and Beaches Resorts. His entrepreneurship was evident from a very early age. Before moving into the AC business he was selling fresh-caught fish to local hotels. His success at this led him to think about what else he could do.
He went on to revolutionise Caribbean tourism and specifically all-inclusive resort accommodation.
It all started in 1981 when Stewart purchased a rundown hotel on an attractive beach in Montego Bay. Seven months and $4 million later, Sandals’ flagship property was born.
Obviously aware of all inclusive resorts, he wanted to improve upon what he had already seen. Features including king size four poster beds, manicured gardens, hammocks and impecable service was to become the norm. Being located on a beach was the icing on the cake.
At the time of his passing, he had been working on plans for the recently announced expansions on the Dutch island of Curaçao and St. Vincent.”
Stewart was elected President of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica in 1989 and inducted into its “Hall of Fame” in 1995. He served as a Director of the Jamaica Tourist Board for ten years and as President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association during the 80s.
in 2009 he created The Sandals Foundation, financing local public facilties and schools to bringing healthcare to those who couldn’t afford it. He had also given millions to charitable causes including aid for first responders who had helped in the wake of hurricanes. In 2012, Stewart also founded the Sandals Corporate University.
In 2017, Stewart was honored with the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit.