REGION MOURNS

REGION MOURNS

Tributes flow across the Caribbean for 'Butch' Stewart

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

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Leaders across the Caribbean yesterday paid glowing tributes to Jamaican entrepreneur Gordon “Butch” Stewart, praising him for his outstanding contribution to the region in the areas of tourism, business and media.

Stewart, who founded the ATL Group of Companies, which includes the world-famous Sandals and Beaches resorts, as well as the Jamaica Observer newspaper, died Monday night at the age of 79.

“Gordon Butch Stewart was an extraordinary human being, and personalities like his come every 100 years. For an entrepreneur to start very small, without any advantages or inheritance attached to himself, but by sheer will, creativity, imagination, discipline, and creativity to build an empire like Sandals, which has become a world-renowned brand, is extraordinary,” said St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

He said what Stewart did for Sandals could be compared to what Bob Marley has done for reggae.

“When you reflect on it, this man is a legend, an iconic figure. He made an outstanding contribution to Jamaica, the Caribbean, and to humanity.

“I will miss Butch; I am sure the enterprise he has left will be in good hands and that it will long survive him as part of his immense legacy.”

Former Jamaican Prime Minister P J Patterson described Stewart as “the quintessential marketer who lived by the motto: 'Find out what people want, give it to them, and in doing so exceed their expectations.'

“It was a commitment that he applied to all his business activities, and which came to span not only those stationed in his homeland, Jamaica, but also those that extended beyond. Gordon Butch Stewart portrayed a life marked by excellence,” Patterson said.

“Rarely does a man like Butch come along — a man who finds his passion and relentlessly pursues it. A man who is distinctive in his personal style; one whose every performance is marked by excellence, yet one who remains grounded and empathetic, ever willing to share with others the benefits of his creative genius.

“May his soul rest in perpetual peace and his name and work forever etched in the pantheon of glory to inspire future generations to come,” said Patterson.

Dr Hubert Minnis, prime minister and minister of finance of The Bahamas, said Stewart was “a loyal son of the Caribbean, who delighted in the extraordinary potential and breathtaking beauty of the region”.

Noting that Stewart's all-inclusive resorts became an iconic global brand, Minnis said the Sandals founder's commitment to the region was manifest in the economic impact of his properties throughout the region.

“He was a great friend and lover of the islands of The Bahamas and the Bahamian people... an intrepid innovator... the ultimate dreamcatcher who was happy to listen to the ideas of others and to change his mind when inspired or enthused by the dreams and ideas of others,” said Minnis.

Governor Albert Bryan Jr said Stewart's passing reminded the people of the US Virgin Islands of the momentous achievements he recorded as he helped build tourism into the Caribbean's major economic driver.

“We also remember that, while he propelled the growth of tourism, he did so in a way that increased local control to ensure its profits benefited Caribbean people and their communities. He is carried into the arms of his Lord with our respect, affection and gratitude,” the governor said.

Meanwhile, the US Virgin Islands' Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte described Stewart as the territory's “bold champion who spread across the Caribbean the message that high-end sustainable tourism can enrich our destinations and our people”.

Barbados's Minister of Home Affairs, Information, and Public Affairs Wilfred Abrahams said: “The Caribbean has lost an outstanding entrepreneur who has made an indelible contribution to the development of media services, tourism investment, and other areas of business in the region and worldwide.”

Harold Lovell, leader of the United Progressive Party in Antigua and Barbuda, said the world has lost a star and the Caribbean a giant.

“Jamaica has been deprived of one of its beloved sons and Antigua and Barbuda one of its staunch friends,” Lovell said, describing Stewart as a visionary who turned his visions into reality.

“He mastered the art of marketing and created Sandals, a globally competitive brand that stands as an incredible and indelible symbol of Caribbean excellence and ingenuity.

“Butch was a fierce competitor and a tough negotiator, but he was a man of his word and, above all, a genuine patriot of Jamaica and the Caribbean. He was never pretentious and retained his strong Jamaican accent, using the patois liberally,” said Lovell.

“He also had an amazing ability to mix at all levels, being as comfortable at the domino table with taxi drivers as he was at the conference table in the boardroom,” added Lovell.


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