Sandals Resorts International (SRI) is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its flagship brand for couples-only, Sandals Resorts, by honoring the legacy of its founder, the late Gordon “Butch” Stewart, shining a light on the impact of tourism on local Caribbean communities and turning the clock back with nostalgic events planned across all Sandals all-inclusive resorts.
“This year marks an incredible milestone for Sandals Resorts, and it’s especially meaningful as we take this moment to honor what my father created and carry on his revered legacy across the Caribbean,” said SRI Executive Chairman Adam Stewart. “Since the flagship opening in 1981 at Sandals Montego Bay, we have continued to elevate and lead the all-inclusive resort space. More than that, we have demonstrated that some of the industry’s most exciting and lasting hospitality innovation is created in the Caribbean. I’m proud to celebrate this milestone for our company alongside our Sandals family as we look to the next 40 years of inspired Caribbean vision and innovation.”
In honor of Sandals’ late founder and his legendary entrepreneurial spirit and lifelong belief in the power of education, the company has begun the construction of the Gordon “Butch” Stewart International School of Hospitality and Tourism at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and in conjunction with Florida International University’s (FIU) Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. FIU, in partnership with The UWI, will develop the next generation of international tourism and hospitality leadership through fully accredited undergraduate and graduate programming. The new school will be located on the Western Campus of UWI, Mona in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
A research-led facility, the school will offer students meaningful educational opportunities beyond the classroom. “My father believed in learning by experience—’on-the-job training,’ as he often put it,” said Stewart. “As a consummate entrepreneur and a lifelong dreamer, he knew success was born beyond the boardroom; found instead in the moments of exploration and discovery. It’s this drive that will inspire the world-class curriculum, putting students in real-world experiences as part of their development.”
Investment in education has long been a priority of SRI, and the new school will complement the Sandals Corporate University, which was established to provide Caribbean-based Sandals team members with opportunities to improve and develop occupational skills and earn undergraduate and post-graduate degrees. “When we invest in Caribbean people, we invest in the future of the region,” said Stewart.
40 for 40 Initiative: Projects benefitting Caribbean communities
Although not a term when Sandals was founded four decades ago, the spirit of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been part of the fabric of the company since its founding. “The link between tourism and the wellbeing of the local Caribbean communities where we operate is undeniable,” he said.
In honor of the company’s 40th anniversary, SRI, together with the Sandals Foundation, the not-for-profit organization launched in 2009 to help the company make a difference in the lives of Caribbean people, is identifying 40 projects that best showcase the incredible link between tourism—the region’s most influential industry—and its power to transform Caribbean communities and improve lives.
Projects will be selected across five main areas: supporting local farmers, hospitality training & certification, preserving natural resources, harnessing unique artisan crafts and community outreach. From ecological conservation efforts at the UNESCO World Heritage site in Jamaica’s Blue and John Crow Mountains and improving the capacity of farmers to increase their efforts toward sustainable food production, to working closely with local artisans to maximize on their talents, Sandals team members will be rolling up their sleeves to bring these projects to life and are inviting guests to join in.
Sandals Resorts is kicking off the conversation and keeping the Caribbean at the forefront with its first-ever podcast, “Sandals PalmCast,” giving listeners the inside scoop on all the latest happenings across the resorts with 13- to 20-minute-long episodes featuring expert insights, resort overviews and special interviews with surprises along the way. With an average repeat guest rate nearing 50%, Sandals’ guests are immensely loyal and eager to learn about the latest happenings on resort and throughout the Caribbean from Sandals Resorts.
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