Tribute: Working At Sandals with Butch Stewart

Gordon Butch Stewart

Working at Sandals was an experience that’s not measureable! Unless you see Butch Steward at work then you don’t know that man. I was in charge of the Sandals Resorts International (SRI) first set of newsletters. Along with Warren Johnson and the PR Managers of Royal, Ochie, Negril and Dunn’s we created a product that was a pleasure for staff to read. I was given full creativity on the project. Some started calling me then, ‘satellite dish’. They were scared to let me know things because they would appear in the newsletter sans name, etc. But, people were able to recognize themselves.

I wrote two stories about my boss, Mr. Stewart at the time. One in the form of a cartoon, ‘A Day In The Life Of Butch Stewart’, replete with a clock, him ‘racing’ up General Managers (GM’s), talking to Betty Jo Desnoes, his right hand for many, many years and who helped me to get a job on the North Coast and away from Kingston. This truly showed me my country in a different light – the 2nd city of Montego Bay, Donald Sangster International, waving to planes every time dem tek off ova d property, going down the road at Whitehouse off the property for local fresh fish straight from the sea, driving to Negril at the drop of a hat, seeing a brand new property come to fruition, Sandals Dunn’s River, with GM at the helm, the affable Louis Grant, dancing at parties on the island ova at Sandals Royal with my erstwhile friend, Jackie Haughton, still one of my close friends, meeting and greeting travel agents and tour operators at 5 a.m. as they come off a chartered flight in the middle of winter all to mento music, and handing out leather sandals upon departure after their day of fun in the sun and sea a la Sandals style, the stamp of Butch Stewart. Those experiences are too numerous to share here, and talking about ackee is a fruit but you cook it like a vegetable was all from my Sandals spiel.

The other article I wrote on Mr. Stewart was The Butchiative$$. I recall quoting not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country … an airport I now travel through all the time, the words of JFK, John F. Kennedy. Leather sandals, silver or gold to Returning Guests and memorable dinners entertaining same. I had Night Manager duty once per month, I think. It was Super Bowl weekend and, Mr. Stewart entertained his guests for Super Bowl. That night a set of drunk and somewhat rowdy tour operators threw me into the pool. I was fully dressed and remember keeping my hand with the radio above my head as I stood up in the pool… it wasn’t that deep…. while my Boss looked on grinning. I went home, changed and came back to the property to continue my duties.

Was anything too much to make a guest of Jamaica feel good? Not to Butch. When one of our Returning Guests, for years, wife died. Mr. Stewart gave him permission to come to the couples-only resort alone. I attended quite a few dinners with him as Public Relations (PR) Manager, and even got our picture taken in a wine-glass frame!

Hospitality and making guests to our country feel and know that they are special is a gift of Butch Stewart. If you came even an inch close to that gift at work, then you too, would love your country, do for your country and ensure that no one thinks something is wrong in serving another human being who enjoys our sea and sun all in the name of fun! God’s gift of Jamaica to us is something that Mr. Stewart didn’t take lightly and knew it had/has to be shared with the world. I share that gift wherever I go! Eternal Father, Bless our land…. Jamaica! Jamaica! RIP Mr. Stewart. God Bless.

About the author

Cathy Kleinhans