Columns

Doing the right thing — the story of Sandals

BY CARL ANTHONY

Friday, December 28, 2018

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Sandals may not be the world's largest resort chain, however it is one of the world's most respected and the Caribbean's only super brand, for which the region is rightfully proud.

Today, the company is the highest revenue earner in most of the islands where it operates and employs the most people. It is of systemic importance to many economies of the Caribbean.

The reason for this is simple, Sandals/Beaches is a family-operated all-inclusive resort chain built on solid family values. The company leads by example and is guided by integrity and ethics. It respects the people who work for the chain, respects the people who vacation at its resorts, and it never forgets its proud Caribbean heritage.

The Sandals story began in 1981 when a small hotel was founded in Montego Bay, the brainchild of Gordon “Butch” Stewart.

Little did Stewart or anyone else know that the world's most powerful all-inclusive brand had just been born, and that Stewart himself would go on to be recognised as hotelier of the year many times over. As a story in this newspaper pointed out on Sunday, Stewart and Sandals/Beaches were to become the most awarded personality and resort brand in the hemisphere.

Sandals' success has been founded on 37 years of hard work by Butch Stewart, his family and a cadre of committed friends and employees would built a brand that is today one of the most recognised in the world, has 15,000 employees in seven Caribbean islands, and has copped the award as World's Best All-Inclusive Company for the past 23 consecutive years. In addition, just this year Sandals swept the Travel Trade Gazette Awards in London, holding off competition from the world's leading travel industry bodies such as Thomas Cook, Jet2Holidays, Royal Caribbean International, Beachcomber Tours and Celebrity Cruises to take the three top prizes — the coveted Travel Company of the Year Award, Hotel and Resort Operator of the Year, and On the Road Hero, which was awarded to Business Development Manager Neil Read for his outstanding contribution to the Sandals Resorts' sales team.

The secret to success was a simple but powerful philosophy of treating people with kindness and respect …and of giving the guest more than he or she expects.

Butch Stewart himself leads by example.

Wherever Stewart goes, people flock to him like a rock star. He is the most approachable of men, and always has a smile on his face. Whether it's the taxi drivers he plays dominoes with, or the Red Caps at the airport who he always finds time to chat with, there are few individuals who care as much for people as the Sandals chairman.

His son Adam follows right in those footsteps. The current deputy chairman of Sandals, Adam has solidified the service that Sandals is world famous for, going on to launch the Sandals Foundation in 2009.

The Sandals Foundation has impacted the lives of tens of thousands of Caribbean nationals, and uses every dollar raised directly toward helping people, with Sandals itself covering all administrative costs. The foundation has invested circa US$50 million since inception on projects in education, the environment and community development, and is audited each year, leaving no question as to its credibility. The support given to the foundation's work has even prompted Butch Stewart to marvel at the generosity of his guests.

That philosophy of service permeates the company. For instance, around this time of the year it's a regular sight on Christmas Day to see Sandals management and staff fanning out throughout the communities where they operate, delivering tens of thousands of presents to children who may not be in a position to have received a gift. They have been doing this since the company first started.

Sandals has been home to generations of Caribbean families and has always represented all that's good about the region, from the pristine images of beaches and smiling couples seen in their famous TV ads, to the outstanding service from their employees.

These employees are among the highest calibre of hospitality workers in the world.

Sandals has its own Corporate University providing comprehensive staff and management training programmes where all staff have the opportunity to earn certificates and degrees at no cost to them.

Sandals team members are among the brightest and most highly trained people in the industry and it is no wonder the company boasts the highest return guest rate in the western hemisphere. People keep coming back again and again …many having spent hundreds of days and nights at their resorts.

Over the years, the company has faced and overcome many challenges …and it now finds itself having to do so once more.

Having always lived and promoted the philosophy of doing the right thing, the very core values of Sandals are now called into question after media reports surfaced about cases of sexual harassment and cover-ups at Jamaican resorts.

The allegations were so far away from everything the world has come to know and trust about the resort it seemed like a bad joke.

But this was no joke.

Sandals has vehemently denied the allegations of a cover-up. With millions of guests passing through the resorts over the years, Sandals insists that on the rare occasion such an incident might occur, there are strict security protocols and highly trained personnel in place to ensure that the right and proper action is taken, including the involvement of law enforcement.

The company has described the allegations as one-sided, and has made it clear it will defend itself vigorously.

News reports featuring those persons making the allegations against Sandals were highlighted on Good Morning America, Fox News and CBS's Inside Edition and were viewed by millions of persons.

Astonishingly, over 95 per cent of those reacting to the story not only questioned the credibility of the complainants, but also expressed scepticism about their claims of a cover up.

Here are a few samples of what people had to say:

“Something sounds weird about this story.”

“This story smells fishy.”

“Looks sooo rehearsed. This was an episode on Law and Order with the same storyline.'

“I hope the truth comes. It's sad the media jumps on the bandwagon to ruin the reputation of a company without fully seeing the repercussions that it has.”

“Something just doesn't add up.”

“Nonsense story.”

Don't take my word for it, feel free to go to the sites and see for yourselves. The public are not buying these allegations.


Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive


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