Return of a legend — Sandals Dunn's River is launched – Jamaica Observer

EXIT the toll road from Caymanas, St Catherine at Mammee Bay, St Ann, in half a minute turn right and plunge into a world of modern hospitality, the latest iteration of Sandals Resorts International (SRI) representing the return of a veritable legend — Sandals Dunn’s River.
On Friday, SRI Executive Chairman Adam Stewart invited a Caribbean glitterati to experience the opening of Sandals Dunn’s River, and to pay homage to the last hurrah of late chairman and founder Gordon “Butch” Stewart before his passing in 2021.
Named after Dunn’s River Falls, the iconic, world-renowned wonder of the tourism world only minutes away, the resort began as the Arawak Hotel in 1957. Its beauty and splendour captivated the boy “Butch” Stewart who, in time, would manage the hotel under his Sandals brand and later purchase the property.
The transformation marks the return of the legend which can only be described in the words of the people responsible for its conceptualisation and design:
“Once upon a time a young boy spent his childhood days playing among a mystic stretch of beach in a place called Ocho Rios. He was surrounded by good friends and family, ready companions for his many adventures who delighted in extraordinary tales about his days growing up, selling freshly caught fish to local hotels — including this very treasured site known as the chic Arawak Hotel.
“Ever enthralled by the glamorous visitors who came from faraway to revel in the beauty of the Jamaican sun and sand, he dreamed of building his own hotel where visitors would come to know this magical place he loved so very much — and they would love it too.
“Brought to life in its inception as a Sandals by this boy-turned-young man’s wild, unwavering entrepreneurial spirit, Sandals Dunn’s River is that dream made real. Now, it returns as a storied resort wholly reconceptualised and deeply inspired by the life and ingenuity of a beloved hotelier, the father of Caribbean hospitality — and Sandals Resorts late founder — the legendary Gordon “Butch” Stewart…”
On a sultry Friday evening two Caribbean prime ministers were among the scores of people there to bear witness to what is being promised will be the most advanced resort in the Sandals chain now stretched across 11 islands, and which will laud its absent founder.
Prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves said he came to pay his respects to Butch Stewart, describing him thus: “He was not a man of lamentations. He was not a man of learned helplessness. He was a man of tremendous faith and hope and love.”
Gonsalves used the opportunity to drive home the point that in the wake of Sandals Dunn’s River, St Vincent would be next up as the Sandals resort there would be opening next year.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness said those gathered there were “literally living” in Butch Stewart’s dream.
“It is such an impressive thing to see a dream come to reality — and if there is one thing you could say about Gordon Butch Stewart, he was a dreamer, but he was a doer. He got the dream brought to fruition. He got it done,” said Holness.
The prime minister commended Sandals for creating the 260-room Sandals Dunn’s River which would provide jobs for 850 people eventually, saying: “You have given hope to 850 persons, Jamaicans who have been given independence, given income, given self-worth, meaning to life, all encapsulated in a job…”
The many tributes of the evening also came from Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett; Adam Stewart; Zane Kirby, head of the American Society of Travel Advisors; representatives of American Airlines and Air Canada Vacations, among others. MC was Gary Sadler, executive vice-president for sales and industry relations at Unique Vacations, affiliate of the worldwide representative of Sandals and Beaches Resorts.
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