'Butch' in hotel talks with Mexicans

BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large Western Bureau cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, December 05, 2015

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WHITEHOUSE, Westmoreland -- Chairman of Sandals Resorts International (SIR) Gordon "Butch" Stewart yesterday announced that discussions were far advanced with business interests in Mexico to open two resort hotels in that country.

"We are in final negotiations to construct two resorts in Mexico... so that will be our next stop," Stewart told almost 300 travel agents mainly from the Unites States, Latin America and Canada, ahead of last night's STAR Awards and Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony at Sandals Whitehouse European Village and Spa in Westmoreland.

The hotel mogul, however, did not give details.

Since opening its first property in Montego Bay in 1981, the resort chain has undergone major expansion in Jamaica and several other Caribbean countries, including Barbados, St Lucia, Grenada, The Bahamas, Antigua, and Turks & Caicos, employing more than 14,000 persons.

The plan, according to Stewart's son, Adam, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Sandals Resorts International, is to employ at least 30,000 Caribbean nationals by 2025.

The younger Stewart told the travel agents yesterday that they play a critical role in the growth of the company.

"You travel agents are a very critical, critical part of our growth plan," he said as he commended the agents for their contribution to the success of the hotel chain.

The elder Stewart echoed similar sentiments.

"You are the backbone of Sandals Resorts, continue to sell Sandals if you want to become that multi-millionaire," the SRI chairman told the travel agents.

The SRI CEO noted that over the years SRI has worked assiduously to improve the brand.

"This organisation and the brand mean something. It stands for wanting to do the best, so we are always trying to improve the brand," he stated.

He noted that within the last five years, the hotel chain had spent roughly US$180 million to expand and upgrade existing properties in Jamaica alone.

He added that construction of the "over the water suites" at Sandals Off Shore island in Montego Bay was well underway, and when complete would be "the best, the most luxurious, most premium accommodation ever built anywhere in the Caribbean".

The completion date is set for December 2016.

Over the years, the hotel chain has received numerous hospitality industry awards.

Just recently at the 22nd annual World Travel Awards' Caribbean and North America ceremony, SRI was recognised as being the Caribbean's Leading Hotel brand -- earning the title for 22 consecutive years.

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