MONTEGO BAY –Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, legendary founder and chairman of Sandals Resorts International, accepted the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award yesterday at the annual Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit (CHRIS), which concluded on April 28 in Miami.
Burba Hotel Network, the host of CHRIS, presents this prominent award to individuals who have made significant contributions to the hospitality industry over their lifetime through their actions, deeds and great accomplishments.
Surrounded by an audience filled with family and friends, colleagues and Caribbean hospitality luminaries such as Bahamian tourism icon George Myers, former Caribbean Hotel Association head John H. Bell and veteran American Airlines executive Peter Dolara, Stewart recounted a life spent in pursuit of opportunity.
“It is such an incredible honor to be the first honoree to receive the inaugural CHRIS Lifetime Achievement Award,” Stewart, “While I am so proud of all that has happened to bring me to this day, I am focused on what tomorrow may bring and continuing to raise the bar for Caribbean tourism.”
Stewart’s innovations changed the face of the all-inclusive format and established Sandals Resorts, and now Beaches Resorts, as one of the most successful brands in the category – boasting year round occupancy levels of more than 85 percent, an unequaled repeat guest factor of 40 percent and demand that has led to unprecedented expansion. His continued growth has brought a total of ten resorts and three private villas in Jamaica, three in Saint Lucia, three in The Bahamas, two in Antigua, one in Grenada, two in Barbados, and one in Turks & Caicos.
“We are very pleased to be able to present the inaugural CHRIS Lifetime Achievement Award to Hon. Gordon Arthur ‘Butch’ Stewart,” said Jim Burba, President of Burba Hotel Network. “The success of Sandals has helped to power the growth of the tourism industry and the economies not only in Jamaica but throughout the Caribbean. The word ‘icon’ certainly applies to Butch Stewart and we are delighted to be honoring him with this Award,” Burba added.
Stewart’s successes have garnered hundreds of personal and industry awards, but perhaps less well-known is the extent of his considerable philanthropy. 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 healthcare to the doorsteps of those who cannot afford it.