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Sandal's Gordon Stewart Stresses Basics on Path to Success

Caribbean News Agency, Barbados, West Indies
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News 

Oct. 1--BRIDGETOWN, Barbados--For Jamaican hotel magnate Gordon "Butch" Stewart, there is no magic formula to success. 

Appearing in the Caribbean Media Corporation's "Talk Caribbean" television show Sunday night, Stewart indicated the keys to success are pretty straightforward -- hard work, commitment, a good product, reliable follow-up service and a dependable team. 

Stewart, one of the biggest success stories in Caribbean tourism, heads the Sandals hotels group and is Chairman of Air Jamaica, Jamaica's national airline. 

Stewart had a quiet business start in the late 1960s, operating a company that installed air-conditioning units. But a year and a half later that company was able to buy its first building -- for cash. The business eventually expanded to embrace 20 companies. 

Talking about the difficult times with the first company, Stewart told programme host Gary Allen, the CMC's Chief Operating Officer, "We gave up weekends. We were constantly at work." 

The emphasis was on pleasing the customer. "Whatever the customer wanted, we did somersaults to take care ogf it," Stewart admitted. 

Stewart said his philosophy remained the same even when he entered the tourist industry in 1981, operating a single hotel. 

"If you make a commitment to somebody, you've got to keep it, he said, referring to the service and product offering. 

Stewart, whose group now embraces 18 hotels, said, "We had a tough time the first couple years" in the hotel business. 

He found out that running a hotel was totally different from anything he had done before, with "a big learning curve" facing him. 

The early years in the tourist industry also had their financial problems. The group "lost a lot of money for the first couple years", Stewart admitted. 

The situation was not helped by the government's position, said Stewart, who after three years in the industry headed the Jamaica Hotels and Tourist Association. 

"Literally, everything we got we had to fight for," he said. 

Stewart said he never wanted to have a one-man operation, but to operate with a team that was committed and efficient. 

-----To see more of the Caribbean News Agency, or to subscribe, go to 

(c) 2001, Caribbean News Agency. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. 


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