Passing of Sir Royston Hopkin, a most unbelievable loss to hotel and tourism sector — 'Butch' Stewart

Passing of Sir Royston Hopkin, a most unbelievable loss to hotel and tourism sector — 'Butch' Stewart

Official funeral tomorrow for Grenadian icon

BY DESMOND ALLEN
Executive editor – special assignment
allend@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

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Gordon “Butch” Stewart, the Caribbean's leading hotelier, has described the passing of Grenadian tourism icon Sir Royston Hopkin as a “deep, unbelievable and shocking loss” to the regional tourism sector.

Stewart, who will attend tomorrow's official funeral for the hotelier in Grenada, said in a statement yesterday, “Sir Royston Hopkin, during his eventful and colourful life, was the most extraordinary friend that someone could have.

“Indeed, he was my friend and brother and I will never forget the many exciting overseas missions on which we embarked together for the glory of our beloved Caribbean home,” said an obviously shaken Stewart.

Sir Royston, owner and operator of Spice Island Beach Resort, Grenada's top resort, died Saturday, February 22, 2020 from complications after heart surgery in Trinidad and Tobago. He is survived by his widow Lady Betty Hopkin and four children.

Sir Roy, as he was affectionately called, was the face of Grenadian tourism for more than five decades and was a key advisor to the prime minister of his country. He spread his wings far and wide and built one of the Caribbean's most beautiful, upscale, six-star resorts, said Stewart.

“From humble beginnings, he became known and loved worldwide, gaining friends and admirers from the United Kingdom, Europe, Canada, the United States, and South America in a most treasured way.

“We wish Lady Hopkin and the children strength and fortitude at this time of bereavement, knowing that it will not be possible to replace this giant of the Caribbean hotel community. His beautiful family was an uncanny reflection of himself. I know they are in a state of shock at his passing but they will cherish the wonderful memories he has left for them and, indeed, all of us who are still reeling from this loss.

“The decision by Grenada to accord him an official funeral is a fitting mark of the regard in which Sir Roy is held by his compatriots. And even though that will not bring back our hero, it will be a measure of comfort to his family who sacrificed to allow him the time and support as he served his country.

“The Sandals organisation, for our part, owes him a huge debt of gratitude for his vision in leading the charge to have our resort welcomed and recognised in Grenada.

“Even though we were his competitors, he had the ability to see the bigger picture and so allowed Sandals to establish itself as a very valuable partner in the growth and development of Grenada's tourism sector and economy,” said Stewart, the chairman and founder of Sandals Resorts International and this newspaper.

One year after the establishment of Sandals LaSource Grenada, Sir Royston announced that his own six-star boutique hotel had increased revenues by 20 per cent and he was able to give his employees a four-week Christmas bonus for the first time, thanks to Sandals.

“Grenada is up 17 per cent in visitor arrivals now that Sandals is in town. We did not have Sandals last year; now we have the airlift that we did not have before. Every hotel is doing better business and a lot of employment is being generated,” Sir Royston said on that occasion.

Stewart said he had the pleasure of celebrating Sir Royston's 75th birthday anniversary with him on January 10, recalling it as “a wonderful, breezy night filled with laughter and merriment, sweeping anecdotes and tall tales as he basked in the love of close family and good friends”.

“Sir Roy seemed hail and hearty, a picture of health full of life, energy and spark. He made one of his usually magnificent speeches and gracefully received the praises which were showered on him by his Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell and his loved ones. His sudden passing was therefore the more shocking,” said Stewart.

“Sir Roy was one of a kind. He served the region with enormous energy, knowledge and foresight, particularly during his highly successful tenure as president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourist Association (CHTA).

“The powerful memories he left behind will live in our hearts forever,” Stewart said.

Sir Royston Oliver Hopkin, born on January 10, 1945, began his spectacular tourism career at 17 years old as part of the family business Ross Point Inn in 1965. By age 20 he was appointed to the Grenada Board of Tourism, serving for 18 consecutive years.

At age 24 he became the first Grenadian native to be elected president of the Grenada Hotel Association, a position he held on 14 occasions. In 1987 he acquired majority interest in Spice Island Inn and renamed it Spice Island Beach Resort.

Among his numerous awards was the British Knight Commander of The Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George in 2004, for his contribution to the tourism industry in Grenada and the Caribbean. He later received Grenada's Most Outstanding Hotelier Award after 49 years of service to his country.

Sir Royston held numerous positions within the CHTA. He received the organisation's 1991 Hotelier of the Year award, as well as Lifetime Achievement awards from CHTA, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation and the Caribbean Hotel and Resort Investment Summit in Miami.


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