Gordon "Butch" Stewart opens Sandals Montego Bay, the flagship resort, and begins the Sandals Resorts legacy.VISIT RESORT HOMEPAGE
Family-owned Sandals Resorts International (SRI) has transformed itself from one brand and one resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica to become one of the most well-known and award-winning hospitality companies in the world. With five brands and 24 properties in seven countries including Antigua, The Bahamas, Grenada, Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Turks and Caicos, Sandals Resorts International is the undisputed leader of Caribbean vacation experiences and remains fiercely committed to the region, dedicating itself to innovative resort development that in the words of Chairman and Founder Gordon "Butch" Stewart, "exceed expectations" for guests, associates and the people who call the Caribbean home.
He's been called the "King of All-Inclusive Resorts," the "Cupid of the Caribbean," and the "Master of Marketing." While all descriptions are appropriate, none of them quite capture the full measure of Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, chairman and founder of Sandals Resorts International, parent company to Sandals Resorts, Beaches Resorts and Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts.
How could a simple phrase define a man who today controls what analysts estimate to be a billion dollar, privately-owned Jamaican-based Empire that includes 24 Caribbean resorts, Appliance Traders Ltd., and The Observer newspaper. All told, Butch Stewart spearheads two-dozen diverse companies that are collectively Jamaica's largest private sector group, the country's biggest foreign exchange earner, and its largest non-government employer.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, on July 6, 1941, he grew up along Jamaica's north coast, a tropical paradise boasting some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, now home to seven Sandals Resorts, three Beaches Resorts, and Grand Pineapple Beach Resort Negril. But the origin of Stewart's business career as the leading entrepreneur in the Caribbean had nothing to do with the hotel or resort industries; rather it had everything to do with salesmanship and Stewart soon proved himself to be a master of the craft. Read More
After rising to the position of sales manager for the renowned Dutch-owned Curacoa Trading Company, Stewart left in 1968 to start Appliance Traders, Ltd. (ATL). Founded as an air-conditioner service and distribution company, ATL soon grew meteorically, adding refrigerators, freezers and other appliances. When the Jamaican government turned socialist in 1970 and demanded a limit on imports, Stewart met what at the time was the greatest challenge to his business savvy and resourcefulness by expanding into manufacturing. Today, ATL makes or sells everything from water pumps and electrical generators to cars and auto parts.
By 1980, the government returned to a more centrist approach to politics and business began to emphasize tourism. The first government-owned, "all-inclusive" resort opened in Ocho Rios and ATL was contracted to supply kitchen appliances and air conditioners. Stewart's unofficial motto, "We can do better," kicked into gear and led to his purchase of an old hotel on one of Montego Bay's largest beaches. Despite no hotel experience, Stewart approached this business with a simple philosophy he articulated many times: "The winning formula is to find out what people want, give it to them and, in doing so, exceed their expectations."
Seven months and $4 million in renovations later, Sandals Montego Bay opened, the flagship of the most popular award-winning, Luxury Included® resort chain in the world. Stewart has never laid claim to starting the all-inclusive concept, couples-only format; he has captured the title of "King of All-Inclusives" by continuously innovating and by steadfastly adhering to the "We can do it better" principle of pleasing his guests.
Where other so-called "all-inclusives" offered meals and rooms at a set rate, Sandals Resorts' prices covered gourmet dining options, premium brand drinks, gratuities, airport transfers, taxes and all land and watersport activities. The competition meals were buffet-style, so Stewart created the on-property specialty restaurants with high culinary standards and white-glove service. Sandals Resorts also was the first Caribbean hotel to offer Jacuzzis and satellite television service, the first with swim-up pool bars and the first to guarantee that every room is fitted with a king-size bed and a hair dryer.
Stewart's innovations changed the face of the all-inclusive format and established Sandals Resorts, and now Beaches Resorts, as the most successful brands in the category. His continued expansion has brought a total of nine resorts in Jamaica, three in Saint Lucia, three in The Bahamas, two in Antigua, one in The Turks & Caicos Islands and soon one in Grenada.
Stewart's successes have garnered hundreds of personal and industry awards, which have been publicized. Perhaps less well-known is the extent of his considerable philanthropy. Sandals Resorts International currently gives active support to more than 150 major projects in its host communities, through the company's 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.
So what's next for this restless entrepreneur the New York Times declared "...exerts huge political influence in Jamaica, where he is considered by some to be even more powerful than the Prime Minister"? No one can answer that conclusively, not even Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, but if his history is any indication, whatever he applies his skill to will change an industry...or a nation.
Sandals Royal Plantation opens in Ocho Rios. Formerly the famous Plantation Inn, this intimate boutique property boasts all-butler, all-oceanfront suites.
The Sandals Foundation is announced, the Caribbean resort company's official philanthropic arm created to address issues affecting the Caribbean including community, education and the environment.LEARN MORE
For more than thirty years, Sandals has perfected the romantic resort experience for couples, earning a worldwide reputation as the place where "love is all you need" because everything else is taken care of.
There are 15 Luxury Included® Sandals Resorts located throughout the Caribbean including Jamaica, The Bahamas, Grenada, Barbados, Antigua and Saint Lucia. Each offers stunning beachfront settings, luxurious accommodations and the many features that make the Sandals Luxury Included® experience. Having been named the Caribbean's Leading Hotel Brand at the World Travel Awards for 18 years in a row, Sandals Resorts is the recognized standard of romantic beach vacations.
The first Beaches Resort opened in 1997 and was a brand born from the insistent requests of couples who loved Sandals Resorts and wanted a similar experience to share with their families.
Now a truly beloved brand in the densely-packed family vacation market, having been voted the World's Leading Family All-Inclusive Resort for 14 years in a row, Beaches Resorts has established itself as the ultimate family-friendly all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean, offering an unforgettable vacation experience for guests of all ages.
Launched in 2008, the Grand Pineapple Beach Resort brand offers guests an inviting setting to affordably enjoy the best beaches in the Caribbean.
Currently offering locations in Antigua and Jamaica, Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts pair an all-inclusive resort experience with great beachfront locations and tremendous value, to provide guests with the best of what the Caribbean region has to offer - a warm, unpretentious welcome, friendly service and the pleasure of a wide and wonderful, white sand beach.
Located in the Exumas chain in the Bahamas, the Fowl Cay Resort offers six private one-, two- and three-bedroom villas outfitted with casually elegant furnishings to complement the stunning surroundings.
At Fowl Cay everything is included in the price of your Villa, and then some. From meals and drinks to a dedicated golf cart, beach cruisers and even a motorboat for fishing or to explore neighboring beaches and cays. All villas are also equipped with a fully stocked kitchen, modern electronics, Molton Brown amenities and all the details of a true vacation beach home.
The Private Villas of Sandals & Beaches are a collection of four spectacular beachfront homes that capture the very essence of fine Jamaican living.
Located across the island, the homes each have a personality of their own from the stunning beauty of the 14-acre Rio Chico, to the laid back easy-going charm of Sundown, and from the luxurious pampering at Villa Plantana to the quiet peacefulness of Lime Acre, there is something for everyone in this collection of very fine private homes in Jamaica.
When Gordon "Butch" Stewart opened his first resort, he had one very important mandate; the resort would be required to adopt a school in the community. Team members were to care for it and ensure that the facilities and students had what was needed to be successful. That was more than thirty years ago, and the beginning of a corporate commitment to community and a tradition of service that SRI has nurtured. "We have the resources, therefore the responsibility to act," says Stewart.
Today, every resort under the SRI banner is required to adopt schools and in some cases, entire communities to ensure that the messages of health, safety, environmental concern, community and opportunity are shared as much as possible. From helping to provide new computer labs and building additional classrooms to giving scholarships for academically bright but needy students and hosting career days - our resort teams continually provide mentorship and share their knowledge and resources with our Caribbean neighbors.
In 2007, Sandals Resorts earned the Condé Nast Traveler World Savers Award for the Adopt-A-School program and the work in the Caribbean communities where Sandals Resorts International operates grows.
As an independent nonprofit organization, the Sandals Foundation has assumed the existing activities of Sandals Resorts International with the aim of expanding their reach to create a positive and sustainable impact on people's lives and the environment. Working with their neighbors, civic leaders, employees and partners, they have identified programs in the areas of education, environment and community to achieve their promise.
The power of the Sandals brand, the strength of Sandals partnerships, and the passion of our
people put them in a great position to have a lasting and meaningful effect on improving lives
in the Caribbean.
SRl is a leader within Caribbean hospitality, and through introducing new concepts such as the eco-village at Sandals Montego Bay, an exclusively solar-powered village continuing to set regional sustainability standards, the company is determined to lead the region in environmental stewardship; while encouraging other resorts and hotels to follow in its footsteps. The more hotels and resorts that practice sustainability initiatives, the better it is for the environment, the guests that visit and our family, friends and neighbors who call the Caribbean home.
From recycling to conserving, SRI is committed to providing quality vacation experiences for guests while working to minimize the environmental and social impacts associated with operations. The resort company was the first official hotel chain in the Caribbean to have a Group Director of Environmental Affairs whose sole responsibility is to lead the company's corporate environmental sustainability effort. Since 1997, the company has had a formal environmental policy for all of its resorts with dedicated Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Managers at each property to oversee and be accountable for environmental management performance indicators.
The first of its kind in the Caribbean, the SCU certifies staff members currently without formal academic qualifications and provides qualified team members with an avenue to advance their education. Through partnerships with internationally recognized universities, professional organizations and local education institutions, the SCU offers programs that range from basic hospitality-specific training to putting them on a learning pathway that can ultimately lead to a masters and/or doctoral degrees.
In addition to receiving practical training in specific disciplines, SCU also focuses on eight key learning objectives. Among these elements are the SCU competency assessment, examining the knowledge, skills and attitudes employees require to perform efficiently; the SCU cross training program, allowing team members to gain inter-departmental experience; SCU "volunteer" hours, which gives team members the opportunity to engage in philanthropy by volunteering through the Sandals Foundation and Sandals EarthGuard; and professional qualifications, providing team members with professional certifications at an international level.
Why are we voted World's best year after year? Sandals Resorts International didn't invent the all-inclusive concept, but over the years we've perfected it.
For a decade, we have earned every resort award and accolade in the industry, placing Sandals leagues above any other all-inclusive resort. But the greatest reward of all is the high level of guest satisfaction we enjoy, with more than half of our guests having stayed with us before. Sandals is not only the World's Best in the eyes of the travel industry, but the best all-inclusive resort in the hearts of couples around the world. View our Complete list of Awards