September 28, 2020

Antigua & Barbuda pays tribute to ‘Butch’ Stewart

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Butch StewartFrom Jamaica Observer

ST JOHN’S, Antigua, (CMC) — Antigua & Barbuda Monday paid tribute to Jamaican investor and entrepreneur, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, for his significant investment in the island’s tourism sector, saying his chain of hotels also contributes tremendously to the economies of Caribbean countries.

Stewart, 73, is the chairman of hotel chain Sandals Resorts International.

Antigua & Barbuda Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy Minister Asot Michael, speaking at a retreat for managers of the hotel chain, said “in many countries Sandals Resorts now pays good wages and salaries to Caribbean people, and trains them for executive and other positions”.

He said Stewart had opened his first hotel here in 2006 expanding the project two years later and spending an estimated US$150 million in developing a new product which the Government “is fully committed to and has made it lucidly clear that there will be no impediments to this project.

“Our pride is enhanced by that fact that Sandals is not a US, UK, Mexican or Spanish brand, but a home-grown Caribbean brand — one of our own…a success story that is now legendary.”

He said that more than 52,000 visitors come to the Sandals in Antigua every year.

“We are delighted to call you our partners. With an estimated EC$130 million (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) spent on everything from taxes, payroll and utilities, tours and taxis, your contribution to the economy is already immense.

“The future sum of US$150 million potentially being pumped into the local economy as well as a minimum of 1000 construction and an additional 750 hotel positions, the future of Sandals Resorts International and Antigua and Barbuda is bright and exciting,” Michael said.

Michael said that Stewart has been dubbed the “King of all-inclusive resorts,” the “Cupid of the Caribbean,” and the “Master of Marketing”.

But he said while all descriptions are appropriate, none of them quite capture the full measure of Stewart, chairman and founder of Sandals Resorts International, parent company to Sandals Resorts, Beaches Resorts and Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts.

“How could a simple phrase define a man who today controls what analysts estimate to be a billion dollar, privately-owned, Jamaican-based empire that includes 25 Caribbean resorts, ATL Automotive, Appliance Traders Ltd, FYAH 105FM and The Observer newspaper?

“All told, Butch Stewart spearheads two-dozen diverse companies that are collectively Jamaica’s largest private sector group, the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner, and its largest non-government employer.”

Michael also spoke of Stewart’s involvement in Air Jamaica, noting that when he gave it back to the Government, it had recorded an increase in revenue of over US$250 million.

“Showing unrivalled commitment to the airline he had bailed out, Stewart additionally gave an additional US$27 million to Air Jamaica.”

He said Sandals Resorts International currently gives active support to more than 150 major projects in its host communities, through the company’s philanthropic arm, The Sandals Foundation.

“This support ranges from the building of schools, to the paying of teachers, to providing hospitals with linens, to bringing health care to the doorsteps of those who cannot afford it. In his homeland of Jamaica, Stewart stepped in to revive the economy by donating one million to stop inflation and adjust the exchange rate.”

Michael said that despite Sandals International’s “relentless investment in new resorts, expansions and its people, Stewart’s eagerness for evolving his award-winning brands shows no sign of slowing up with further agreements made to develop Beaches Resorts in Antigua and Barbados and kicking off a $65 million facelift project for Sandals Barbados”.

Michael said he wanted to take the opportunity to thank Stewart for his “dedication and innovation not just here but throughout the Caribbean”.

For more on this story go to: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Antigua—Barbuda-pays-tribute-to–Butch–Stewart

 

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