Tourism Minister, Hon Edmund Bartlett has expressed deep sadness at the passing of tourism stalwart Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart.
“Butch was truly an icon and innovator, philanthropist and perhaps the greatest marketer tourism has ever seen. Sandals is indeed the largest and most enduring brand created by a Caribbean entrepreneur in tourism and arguably the world today and the standard by which luxury All Inclusive is judged. I hail him as a father, leader, benefactor, and the greatest tourism entrepreneur of our time. His passing is truly devastating,” said the Minister.
Stewart was the founder of Sandals Resorts, the leading hotel chain in the Caribbean, Beaches Resorts, and their parent company Sandals Resorts International. He was also the founder and chairman of the ATL Group of Companies and the Jamaica Observer.
“Gordon Butch Stewart has made an indelible mark. He has established himself as not just the standard by which entrepreneurship can be judged, but he has established a brand that has become global and is also the strongest statement that small island states such as Jamaica can make on global scenes, irrespective of their areas of involvement,” said Bartlett.
“I think that we can look back on his life and times and draw inspiration from the success that he has had. But I think, most importantly, we can be inspired by his resilience and the fact that he has started from nowhere, and has ended up as being one of the most celebrated human beings that Jamaica has produced in the last century,” He added.
Stewart ventured into the hospitality business in 1981 with the acquisition of properties in Montego Bay, St James, one of which was upgraded and later launched as the precursor to what is now Sandals Montego Bay.
Stewart has been bestowed with a number of honours over the years, including the Order of Jamaica (OJ), Commander of the Order of Distinction (OD) and Global Iconic legend of tourism at a UNWTO gala dinner held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in 2017.
“I, on behalf of the entire Ministry of Tourism, want to pay our very deep respect and regards to him and say to his family, your gift to us is going to be what will inspire us, particularly through this difficult period of COVID-19. It is a hard moment to say good bye but it is a great moment for us to draw inspiration and to be guided to the future,” said the Minister.
“He was a fierce champion, and I thank God that a Butch Stewart was among us. We thank God for the legacy that he has left behind and we have to draw on that great inspiration and to build a stronger and better place for ourselves and posterity,” he added.
The Honorable Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart OJ. CD. Hon. LLD. was 79 years old.