We are deeply saddened by the passing of the Honorable Gordon Butch Stewart O.J. (Order of Jamaica), Founder and Chairman of Sandals Resorts International.
Remembering Gordon Butch Stewart
We, along with many others around the world, worked closely with Sandals over the years and appreciated Stewart’s constant innovation and marketing genius. He was a huge supporter of the All Inclusive industry and created some of the most innovative programs to make vacations exceptional.
Gordon Butch Stewart was born in Kingston, Jamaica on July 6, 1941. At the early age of 12 he sold fresh-caught fish to local hotels, finished his (secondary) education abroad, returned to Jamaica and eventually started selling air conditioners and founded Appliance Traders Limited (ATL). There’s also a car dealership, which expanded to include BMW and Mini (in Caribbean markets), and AC Hotel by Marriott (Kingston).
In addition, he founded the Jamaica Observer in 1993, and in 1994 he owned a majority share of Air Jamaica and then sold the shares of the airline back to the Jamaican Government in 2004. And, the most noteworthy includes Sandals and Beaches Resorts, which began in the early 80’s with two hotels in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
An icon in the travel industry, genius really, he led the all-inclusive industry to what it has become. In fact, when those of us in the travel industry think about all-inclusive resorts – Sandals comes up first. He defined the industry with his business acumen and his creativity. He elevated all-inclusive resorts.r
Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding said, “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.”
Personally, I agree, as I have fond memories of working with Sandals over all these years.
Sandals Resorts was the go-to when I first started out in the industry – in fact, my start in travel was at the time Sandals was conceived by Stewart, with his first resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica. And, as they say, the rest is his-story. That dream got bigger and turned into 15 Sandals Resorts (with one more on the way) and three Beaches Resorts.
Sandals, under Stewart’s leadership, is also known for its ‘firsts’ in the industry.
For instance, the ‘first’ swim-up bar, which we all love, opened in the mid-80’s at Sandals Montego Bay. The first rooftop pool and bar, the first 4-lane bowling alley, and the first gourmet donut shop all began at Sandals Royal Barbados.
What else did Gordon Butch Stewart contribute to the industry? So much more…
Did you ever hear of “Stay at One, Play at Two”? Yes, another concept created by Stewart.
Stewart left a legacy including the Sandals Foundation, which celebrated its 10th anniversary.
“Tonight we lost our super hero.” – Adam Stewart
He was a hero to many, especially in the Caribbean with the work of the Sandals Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Sandals and Beaches Resorts. The three pillars of the Foundation include – Our Community, Our Education, Our Environment.
A look at how Gordon Butch Stewart started it all.
100% of contributions go directly to support the programs and initiatives of the Foundation. #FaceTheCaribbean
As an example, under Education: Thousands of books and computers were donated in addition to awarded scholarships. Under Community: Over 200,000 in the community were impacted through health initiatives. Under Environment: Marine Sanctuaries, Coral Fragments, Turtles were all helped while raising environmental awareness.
As you can see, Stewart left his mark around the world and the hope of any person, in my opinion, is to make a difference in the life of others and that he did.
As reported in the Jamaica Observer, another brainchild of Gordon Butch Stewart, Prime Minister Andrew Holness hailed Gordon “Butch” Stewart as a man way ahead of his time, with “an eye for detail, and an ability to market and deliver world class service in any endeavour.”
And that he was. A consummate marketer with brilliant and creative ideas that set the all-inclusive industry up forever.
Gordon Butch Stewart also received a plethora of awards including the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award from the Jamaica–America Society in 1992 and “Travel Man of the Millennium” in the World Travel Awards (2000) for his work in promoting Caribbean tourism.
In true Stewart fashion, he also conceived Love Nest Butler Suites, elevated suites at Sandals Resorts.
I guess you could say that “Butch” Stewart knew what we wanted, as travelers, before we did. And as he often said, “Love is all we need.”
Farewell, Mr. Stewart, and thank you. You will be missed.