Butch Stewart, the "King of All-Inclusive Resorts," the "Cupid of the Caribbean," and the "Master of Marketing".
Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart is a well-known Jamaican businessman who started Sandals Resorts, in 1981. Today, Stewart is the owner and/or Chairman of over two dozen companies throughout the Caribbean, North America and Great Britain. The business maverick owns and runs 20 resorts under the Sandals umbrella, including the original Sandals all-inclusive couples-only resorts, the Beaches resorts for families, and four boutique hotels. He serves as company chairman, while his son Adam, now serves as CEO. Despite his many achievements and unconventional attitude to business, Butch Stewart’s inspirational life story remains widely unknown.
Gordon got an early start in business. As a youngster, he helped his mother with her own personal business before moving on to work as an appliance trader, even before the age of 17.
Butch Starts ATL
ATL began from humble beginnings. Butch started with a rented office, a second-hand car, and a second-hand pickup. Today, ATL Group is also in the office equipment business and is the distributor of Honda motorcars. ATL also owns the Jamaica Observer newspaper.
Image Credit: http://atljamaica.com/
The Beginnings of the Hotel Business
Following the turbulent period of radical socialism that was the 1970’s, the 1980’s saw a Jamaica with a new government and a new vision. Butch Stewart moved to purchase two hotels, though they were old and rundown. Attempts to turn the hotels around — to produce viable businesses proved extremely difficult. However, through proper marketing and satisfying customer needs, much progress was made.
A Case of Over-delivery
If you want your business to be successful, over-deliver like crazy. This old adage proved to be the sustaining mantra of Stewart’s new chain of hotels. Being the first to provide novel innovations and services, the hotel group quickly gained traction and stood out.
Even so, in the first two years, the company lost so much money, many thought they would have ran out of business. What did Butch Stewart do? He built more rooms, and that same hotel now has 251 bedrooms from the original 100). As the company turned a profit, Stewart purchased Sandals Royal Caribbean. Over the years, the company built more, including Sandals Negril which ended up being the most successful hotel that the Caribbean has ever seen.
The Story of ‘Beaches’
According to Butch, Beaches came out of a need. "Guests kept saying to me, Butch, we have been here 15 times, 20 times. But now we have kids; we need a place that we can take the whole family." Butch then made his second-youngest son, Adam, chairman of the youth committee to come up with creative ideas to make the younger people happy. Additionally, the company has spent well over 300 million in the past couple years modernizing, renovating, redecorating, and expanding.
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Today, the Sandals resorts are the epitome of world class luxury and comfort. One resort boasts 100 separate swimming pools. From its small beginnings, Sandals has grown into a huge multibillion-dollar company. 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.
Image Credit: http://www.travelweekly.co.uk
That’s the story of Butch Stewart, a self-made man who has accomplished great feats despite great odds. Today, Butch, 72 years old still enjoys the simple things in life and strives to make the most of everyday living.
By Norvan Martin