‘Butch’ Stewart posthumously awarded St Lucia’s 3rd highest honour

GORDON “Butch” Stewart has joined the pantheon of St Lucian stars in posthumously receiving that country’s third highest honour, the St Lucia Cross (SLC).

The award celebrates the late Sandals Resorts International (SRI) founder and chairman for his superlative imprint on the island’s economy through three thriving resorts.

The announcement was made when the eastern Caribbean nation marked its 42nd anniversary of Independence on February 22, 2021, and will be officially presented this Sunday, March 7 at a virtual ceremony in Castries, the St Lucian capital where Stewart first opened his Sandals Regency La Toc Golf Resort and Spa 28 years ago.

Since then the Jamaican hotel mogul added the Sandals Halycon Beach Resort and Spa, and the Sandals Grande Saint Lucian Beach Resort and Spa, complemented by the new 18-hole Greg Norman-designed Sandals Golf and Country Club at Cap Estate, which together made SRI the island’s largest hotel company, its leading private sector employer, foreign exchange earner and contributor to the economy.

At the time of Stewart’s passing on January 4, 2021, St Lucian Prime Minister Allen Chastanet signalled that the late Sandals chairman was to be awarded the St Lucia Cross for distinguished service in the field of tourism, entrepreneurship and philanthropy.

“Thousands of persons in this region have jobs and careers because of Butch Stewart, the world knows more about the Caribbean and Saint Lucia because of Butch Stewart, our tourism product is surviving in spite of COVID in large measure because of Butch Stewart, and the Caribbean tourism industry is as strong as it is today because of ‘Butch’ Stewart,” he said.

Stewart’s son and new Executive Chairman Adam Stewart thanked the governor general, prime minister and people of Saint Lucia for the award on behalf of the Stewart family, adding that they were beyond humbled to accept the honour.

“My dad has held a special love for Saint Lucia and its people for almost three decades, since he first came here… We feel truly blessed and appreciative to be a part of this society, and this recognition bestowed on my dad is beyond words. We know he would be extremely proud to have received such an honour.

“We also know that the investment he made in Saint Lucia was always a labour of love, and that it was his privilege in contributing to making Saint Lucia one of the most sought-after holiday destinations in the world. To the people of Saint Lucia, we will continue to stand by you, we love you and we appreciate you,” the SRI executive chairman pledged.

Outside of Jamaica, Sandals also operates resorts in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, The Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands.

Only 10 other persons have received the St Lucia Cross since its inception in 2005 when it was the country’s highest honour, after the Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Lucia awarded to governors general, and the Knight/Dame Commander of the Order of Saint Lucia received by only three people including two Nobel laureates.

— Desmond Allen

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