Jamaican and regional tourism and media giant, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, has died.
Stewart, 79, passed on Monday evening.
At the time of his passing, he headed a host of business entities, including Sandals International Resorts Limited and ATL Group of Companies, which included the Jamaica Observer Limited, one of the island’s main media entities.
Born on in Kingston, Jamaica in 1941, Stewart grew up along the country’s north coast, where he had a fairly normal upbringing and gradually entered the field of salesmanship, which eventually led to him forming his own business, Appliance Traders Limited, in 1968.
The entity which initially specialised in the importation and sale of air-conditioning units, water coolers and stoves, has since blossomed in the sale of countless other appliances and homecare items.
In 1981, Stewart ventured into the hospitality business with the acquisition of a few resort properties in Montego Bay, St James, one of which was upgraded and later launched as the precursor to what is now Sandals Montego Bay.
Within a decade, Stewart established a chain of all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica, stretching from Negril to Ocho Rios along the north coast, before venturing overseas with the all-inclusive concept, including to Antigua in 1991, which was his first resort outside of Jamaica.
Over the years since, he has added more resorts in Jamaica and also in Saint Lucia, The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Stewart also founded the Jamaica Observer newspaper in 1993, and a year later, started the process of acquiring a majority stake in Air Jamaica, the then national carrier.
The airline was sold back to the Jamaican Government in 2004.
A father of seven living children, with one son, Jonathan, having died in an auto collision, Stewart’s children have gone on to become successful in a number of well-known business enterprises nationally and regionally, including Adam Stewart who is Deputy Chairman and CEO of Sandals Resorts and the ATL Group.
He was also presented with honorary doctor of law degrees from the University of the West Indies (UWI) in 2001, and from the University of Technology, Jamaica in 2009, as also a honorary doctor of business administration degree from Johnson and Wales University in 2011.
In addition, Stewart has been presented with a number of international awards in recognition of his outstanding business and philanthropic work and accomplishments, including his success in the field of hospitality, in which was the indisputable regional giant.