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'Sir Butch — I like how that sounds'

Gaston Browne offered Sandals boss knighthood

Monday, January 22, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — In the midst of his blistering attack on Sandals Resorts and its chairman Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne had offered the Jamaican hotel mogul a British knighthood last year.

“I like the sound of 'Sir Butch' and remember you heard it here first,” Browne told a touring party that had just visited Sandals hotels in Grenada and Barbados, two of the latest islands to be graced by Sandals resorts.

Leaders of British Commonwealth countries are entitled to recommend persons for knighthood by The Queen. Such recommendations are routinely accepted by Buckingham Palace.

Browne offered the knighthood after presenting a comprehensive wishlist to Stewart, seeking: • construction of a Beaches hotel in Antigua

• a sizeable contribution to his party's headquarters building

• another large donation to the upcoming general elections that analysts believe he will call in March this year.

At the same time, Browne said that he was impressed by the quality and comprehensiveness of the developments he had toured and wanted to know what incentives could be provided to get additional rooms at the flagship Sandals Grande Antigua.

The prime minister also expressed his concern about the fall off in business and sought Chairman Stewart's opinion on what might have been the cause.

But having not succeeded in getting his wishes granted, Browne then stepped up his sustained attack on Sandals and its chairman. Prodded by influential competitors in the tourism industry who are backers of his Administration, he unilaterally rescinded a legal concession agreement signed between Sandals and a previous Antiguan Government.

Putting a spin on the reason for his attacks, the Antiguan leader accused Stewart of trying to bully his Government, a claim that Sandals spokespersons have firmly rejected, noting the Sandals chairman's conciliatory approach throughout.

The real bully has been Gaston Browne who has managed to cow the Antiguan media and his fellow Caricom leaders, the Sandals spokespersons said.

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