For 30 years, the man behind the world’s leading all-inclusive company has searched the globe to bring the most romantic and luxurious amenities and services to couples in love with Sandals Resorts. He is also the mastermind behind Beaches Resorts, providing a world-class getaway for families. With 23 resorts across 5 Caribbean countries, find out what inspires the man behind Sandals Resorts International and why he believes hard work is the ticket to happiness.
On his abiding love for Jamaica: I have never wanted to leave Jamaica, even though it’s been through some pretty tough periods and there were times when it might have been easier for me to go… but I couldn’t. For me, Jamaica is by the far the most beautiful country in the world.
On the business of building luxury: I always loved the idea of Club Med—I loved their energy and their style and thought we should emulate what they were doing. However, we kept going round in circles for about six months not sure about anything, and not knowing which way to go, changing our minds and then going back again. Eventually, we put together a formula based on the all-inclusives of the time BUT always with the idea of luxury at the forefront.
On developing a winning philosophy: If the offering is good, people will remember and the name will then become well known. We had already established a reputation for service with ATL (Appliance Traders Limited, Stewart’s first company that sold air conditioners and small appliances), and we would turn somersaults for people to keep them happy, and to be sure they were happy with our product and what we had done for them. And it paid off.
On the early years, where service always came with a smile (and still does): Staff were chosen more for their attitude and a ready smile, rather than their experience, because we could always train them to our standards. If they were fun, lively and interested with the right attitude, then we knew they were right for Sandals.
On the power of delivering good service: Good service doesn’t happen by mistake. We built one company on service, and we knew that we could build another. Our customers are our best salesmen.
On getting it done the Sandals way: Our job is to ensure that when guests come to our hotels they get more than they were expecting. This allows you constantly to lead in service, innovation, awards, and reputation.
On managing the CEO, his son, Adam Stewart: I am still very much in charge, and I’m traditionally a pretty hands-on manager. But Adam knows what I’m up to and I know what he’s up to. He’s done great things for this company.
On the importance of knowing his product: There isn’t one hotel that I don’t know every part of, from the kitchen, dining room, each and every bedroom and all the facilities, because I have been part and parcel of its development. You cannot dilute the spirit of a company as it grows, because the whole thing will be at risk if you don’t develop its identity, its corporate knowledge. You have to understand what works best for the guests. For some of our guests, this is their only vacation this year and you have to deliver.