Travel pioneer Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, who founded Jamaica’s Sandals resort, has died.
Stewart was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1941. He grew up on the island, where he got the nickname “Butch” after being called it by an American sailor.
He became one of the most successful Jamaican businessmen ever, running a company worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
After being educated in England, Stewart worked for Dutch-owned Curaçao Trading Company, before leaving to found his own firm – Appliance Traders.
But his true breakthrough came in April 1981, when he bought two derelict hotels, renovated them and reopened as the Sandals Resort Beach Club, later known as Sandals Montego Bay.
From there his empire grew – eventually making up 25 resorts across the Caribbean.
As well as Sandals Resorts, Stewart founded Beaches Resorts, The ATL Group and The Jamaica Observer.
He died in the United States following a short illness aged 79, he leaves behind seven children and his wife, Cheryl.
His son, Adam Stewart – deputy chairman of Sandals – told the Jamaica Observer: “It is with great sadness that I share with you today the passing of my father, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart.
“This news seems almost unbelievable, since he was as involved and forward-thinking as ever. He chose to keep a very recent health diagnosis private and we respected that wish.”
His son described him as “a gifted entrepreneur:.
“He was a marketing genius and talented showman, but those who knew him best recognised that he was a dreamer who could dream bigger and better than anyone. It was often said: ‘The best thing for people around him to do is be dream catchers.’
“That’s why he always credited his success to the incredible team around him, why he listened intently when it came to creating innovative things that would excite and delight our guests, and why it is so important that I remind you today of all days, that we will all continue to be his dream catchers.”
He added: “My Dad lived a big life – husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather entrepreneur, statesman, dreamer.
“A singular personality and an unstoppable force who revelled in defying the odds, exceeding expectations and whose passion for his family was matched only by the people and possibility of the Caribbean, for whom he was a fierce champion.
“There will never be another quite like him and we will miss him forever.”