February 29, 2024

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Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, Founder of Sandals Resorts, Dies at 79

Gordon Stewart, who bought a rundown beachfront hotel in his indigenous Jamaica and crafted it into a chain of all-inclusive resorts as the founder of Sandals Resorts Global, died on Monday. He was 79.

His death was verified in a assertion by his relatives, who did not give a result in or say where he died, other than to say that he died in the United States.

His son Adam Stewart said in an interview on Tuesday that his father’s demise was associated to a recent health care prognosis that Mr. Stewart, who was identified as Butch, experienced held personal for the reason that he did not want to “be everyone else’s stress.”

“He did not even want his closest friends to fret for him,” Adam Stewart said.

Inspite of his health issues, Mr. Stewart experienced ongoing to get the job done long hrs right up until the conclusion of his daily life, his son claimed. Adam Stewart turned chairman of Sandals Resorts Worldwide soon after his father’s demise.

Mr. Stewart commenced his resorts business in 1981, when he took the funds he experienced manufactured advertising air-conditioning models in Jamaica and invested it in acquiring a lodge on the island’s North Coast. Naming it Sandals Montego Bay, it would turn into the flagship resort of a chain of luxury holiday vacation locations. Sandals now operates 15 resorts, like 6 in Jamaica.

Mr. Stewart proven Sandals Resorts Worldwide with a partners-oriented target before branching out with the far more family-oriented Seashores Resorts. That enterprise was in the system of growing in St. Vincent and the Dutch island of Curaçao at his loss of life, his loved ones stated.

Gordon Arthur Cyril Stewart was born in Kingston, Jamaica, on July 6, 1941, the oldest of 3 small children of Gordon Leslie Stewart and Jean (Townsend) Stewart. He grew up in St. Ann Parish, on the island’s North Coast. The family struggled monetarily, and Mr. Stewart felt compelled from a younger age to just take an active position in supporting them.

At 12, he began providing freshly caught fish to nearby inns. “He always named himself an outdated fisherman,” his son mentioned. “The initially boat he experienced was a dugout canoe that he designed out of an previous tree.”

Mr. Stewart analyzed in England for about a yr when he was in his late teenagers. He returned to Jamaica and took a work at the Dutch-owned Curaçao Trading Firm, where he became profits supervisor.

But he itched to commence his personal company, the family members claimed, and seized an possibility in 1968 when he identified the charm of air-conditioning for men and women living in an island local climate. He started his initial business enterprise, Equipment Traders Ltd., just after he persuaded the Fedders Corp. of Edison, N.J., to permit him to represent the model in Jamaica.

From there, Mr. Stewart produced his overarching business enterprise philosophy: “Find out what individuals want, give it to them and, in performing so, exceed their anticipations.” This at very first associated remaining eager to install air-conditioners for his consumers any time, day or evening, his son said.

Mr. Stewart’s work with the Sandals and Beaches resorts led to leadership roles in Jamaica’s tourism industry, which includes director of the Jamaica Tourist Board for a ten years. In 1992, his Butch Stewart Initiative pumped $1 million a week into the overseas trade market place to help halt the slide of the Jamaican dollar.

In 1994, he led a group of traders that took management of Air Jamaica, the Caribbean’s greatest regional carrier. He put alongside one another an financial investment group that compensated $37.5 million for 70 per cent of the airline, offering himself a 46 per cent stake.

The transfer was the sort of grand public gesture that Mr. Stewart experienced turn into well known for, as The New York Situations claimed in an write-up about the move.

At the helm of the troubled point out-owned airline, Mr. Stewart started introducing routes and improving upon service. As part of the turnaround, he increased the airline’s income and grabbed industry share from rivals.

“One point you have to give Butch Stewart, he is heading to try out anything to make the business do the job,” Peter J. Dolara, a senior vice president of American Airlines at the time, told The Occasions. “The guy is a ferocious competitor.”

In 2009, Mr. Stewart created the Sandals Foundation, which supports faculty construction, education and overall health care obtain on the islands exactly where the firm operates resorts. He was a recipient of Jamaica’s greatest national distinctions, which include the Get of Jamaica.

In addition to his son Adam, he is survived by his spouse, Cheryl his mom, Jean a sister, Pat three other sons, Brian, Bobby and Gordon his daughters, Jaime, Sabrina and Kelly 12 grandchildren and 4 terrific-grandchildren. A fifth son, Jonathan, died in a motor vehicle incident in 1989. Mr. Stewart’s brother, Peter, died in 2004.

Adam Stewart summed up his father’s perform ethic as “grit, challenging perform, and set men and women very first.”

“He outworked the finest of them,” the son explained. “He usually taught us that the rapidly road is not the correct street.”