Tourism and Sandals stalwart David Roper passes

One of the stalwarts of Jamaica’s tourism industry and a long-serving executive of Sandals Resorts International (SRI), David Roper, passed away early yesterday morning after ailing for some time. He was 66.

Yesterday, SRI described Roper, who joined the Sandals family in 1986 as general manager at the time of the acquisition of Sandals Royal Caribbean, as a beacon of leadership.

“He later joined the team at SRI where he was tasked with managing the company’s relationship with the travel trade,” the company said, adding that at the time of his passing Roper was director, industry relations.

“The consummate Sandals ambassador, he played an integral role in building out and strengthening our sales and industry relations division over the years, forging key relationships with not only regional industry partners and stakeholders, but also with critical international partners across the globe,” SRI said.

“His passion for the Sandals brand and for the tourism industry, which started even before his Sandals journey, was unquestionable. He loved what he did and it showed in his unwavering commitment and in the way he immersed himself in his duties,” the resort group added.

Roper’s welcoming personality and infectious laugh, SRI said, endeared him to everyone he met and interacted with, and his sense of humour was among his finest traits.

The company also noted that he was a mentor to many people and delighted in regaling younger team members with stories about the history of the company. That resulted in him being fondly referred to as the Sandals ‘encyclopedia’, as he was always willing to share facts and figures about the company.

SRI also noted that, as an avid lover of cricket, Roper worked closely with Sandals’ late founder and chairman, Gordon “Butch” Stewart, to facilitate the company’s sponsorship of West Indies cricket from as far back as 1995 and the early 2000s, and most recently from 2018.

“He was truly passionate about the sport and was proud to lead the charge of aligning our brand with this powerful Caribbean sporting institution,” SRI said.

“Cricket was, however, not the only sport he loved. He was also a football fan and would often engage fellow team members in passionate discussions, either vociferously lamenting the poor performance of his team, or happily celebrating their victories.

“A gentleman through and through, David Roper was to Sandals as Sandals is to the all-inclusive sector. To say he will be missed would truly be an understatement. His contribution to our company’s success over the years is immeasurable and his impact on the lives of many of our team members, especially those within his division, is more than words can capture,” the resort group stated.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, including his brother Brian, general manager at Beaches Ocho Rios; his wife Donna and children; and to our entire Sandals family, particularly his team in sales and industry relations — a team he led with passion and integrity over the years.

“His legacy as one of the longest-serving members of the Sandals Resorts team will live on forever, and we will keep his memory alive by continuing to outpace our competition, cementing our place as the ‘World’s Best All-Inclusive Company’ — exactly what he believed us to be,” SRI said.

“We will keep the family in our prayers at this time, allowing them time to process before announcing collaborative next steps in honouring the memory of our Sandals and tourism stalwart.”

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