A true demonstration of patriotism from Sandals

A true demonstration of patriotism from Sandals


Sunday, March 29, 2020

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I can't say I am surprised, but I am totally blown away by the gesture made to Jamaica by Sandals Resorts as we combat this COVID-19 pandemic.

As you reported on Friday, Sandals Resorts International has offered the Government a 52-room hotel and has helped to finance 40 ventilators at a cost of $20 million to be used to treat COVID-19 patients.

Your story said, too, that Sandals has also decided against laying off its permanent workers, opting to pay 40 per cent of their basic salary fortnightly and retain benefits such as health insurance and paid vacation leave despite the temporary closure of all its resorts in the Caribbean.

What a big gesture by Mr Gordon “Butch” Stewart and his son Mr Adam Stewart. Jamaica owes them both a debt of gratitude because they have demonstrated what it is to be patriotic.

When the Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton appealed for 600 rooms across the country to house patients recovering from COVID-19 I had a gut feeling that Mr Butch Stewart would have stepped up to the plate.

While it is no secret that the Jamaica Observer is owned by Mr Stewart, and as such I expect that the newspaper will publish news from within his group, I must say thanks to the Observer for letting Jamaica and the world know about this gesture by Sandals, because if it were left up to the other newspaper, The Gleaner, we would still be in the dark.

I note that their report on the matter, also published last Friday, said only that half of the 100 rooms needed by the Western Regional Health Authority have been identified in Montego Bay by Minister Tufton.

The Gleaner quoted Minister Tufton on the issue, and while he did not identify the hotel, I believe that the newspaper should have pressed him to identify the hotel because this type of gesture is one that should be highly commended.

This type of petty reporting, just because the hotelier is a competitor in the media business, is unbecoming of The Gleaner and the newspaper should take stock of the role it is playing in keeping the Jamaican people informed.

I must say, though, that Mr Butch Stewart has been displaying his love for and commitment to Jamaica for a very long time. I am old enough to remember his 'Save the dollar' initiative in 1992.

For those who are too young to have witnessed this remarkable initiative, Mr Stewart announced that he would shock the black market by pumping US$1 million a week into the official foreign exchange market at below prevailing rates to help halt the slide of the Jamaican dollar.

I remember one of Jamaica's most respected journalists, Mr Carl Wint, writing in one of his columns: “Call it patriotism. Call it self-interest. Call it whatever you want, the fact is that he (Stewart) stepped in, injected foreign exchange at below current market rate to try to halt the slide. There were many who questioned the intervention and who said the initiative could not work. But it did.”

I also remember Ms Dawn Ritch, in her column in The Gleaner, stating: “Dis country nuh have nuh elected leader,” the higgler told me. “Is Butch Stewart a run it.”

Further on in the column she said of Mr Stewart: “Butch Stewart, the man who decided to sell millions of dollars at 25 when they were selling at 30, is the darling of the media and the sidewalks... (Prime Minister P J) Patterson was given a political gift when Butch Stewart stepped in to halt the slide of the dollar.”

Again, I thank Mr Stewart for his commitment to Jamaica's development. I pray God's richest blessings on him and his companies. They are true patriots.

Norman Martin is a social commentator and retiree

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