Begging To Differ On Butch Stewart

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Caribbean Governments and political parties, even our own, were fulsome of their praise of Gordon “ Butch” Stewart, the founder and owner of Sandals, who died on 4 January 2021.  His son Adam wrote an equally effusive tribute to his Dad. So he should since Mr. Stewart Senior left his son a very rich man. We understand the contribution that Mr. Stewart made to the  promotion of Caribbean tourism and the all inclusive product in tourism which was in fact pioneered by his business rival the former Jamaican Senator John Issa. Mr. Issa owns and bought Super Clubs Breezes, the old Ambassador Hotel, in and around the same time that Mr. Stewart bought the old Balmoral and turned it into Sandals.  The two men are markedly different. Mr. Issa has a good reputation for ethics and fair treatment of his staff.  He is meticulous in staying out of the cut and thrust of the local politics. Mr. Stewart was quite the opposite having a  reputation which some business men would call shrewd and tough but which many in our populations in the region found mean spirited and cruel. He seemed actively to go out of his way to destabilize Caribbean governments that did not do his commercial bidding. The story of firing of employees at Sandals in Nassau is one such story. This helped to cause the fall of the PLP in 2017.  A similar story is told in St Lucia with the shutting down of the Sandals Hotel in 2006 which caused Kenny Anthony then Prime Minister to lose as well. So fulsome praise for the tourism product  we recognize but  as for the rest, he is found wanting.  Let us hope God has mercy on his soul.