Castries, Saint Lucia, Tuesday October 26, 2021:– The Head of the Caribbean’s biggest and most successful exclusive all-inclusive hotel brand says a top-notch tourism university established in his late father’s name “will go a far way towards mapping the pathway for the survival of the region.”
In recognition of its 40th anniversary and to honour the legacy of its Founder Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, Sandals Resorts International (SRI) on Monday (October 25) signed a trilateral agreement to establish the region’s first university to prepare Caribbean citizens to manage their own hospitality and tourism management services.
SRI signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and Florida International University’s (FIU) Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management to create the Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart International School of Hospitality & Tourism.
The new school will be built at the Western Jamaica Campus of The University of the West Indies (The UWI) at Mona in the island’s tourism capital of Montego Bay, the birthplace of the Sandals brand.
SRI’s Executive Chairman Adam Stewart says, “Through innovative technology and by leveraging the Universities’ powerful network and reach across the Caribbean and internationally, regional and international students will benefit from high-quality academic tutelage and practical experience in a range of hospitality and tourism programmes.”
Speaking on the significance of the partnership, Stewart said: “Creating opportunity through education is as fundamental to our organisation and to the successful future of the Caribbean, as it is to all people seeking a better life for themselves and their families.”
He continued, “This partnership is so deeply meaningful and the work ahead extremely vital.”
According to Stewart, “Sandals has proven that what is born of this region can successfully compete against any brand on an international stage.
“Now, together with powerhouses The UWI and my alma mater FIU – two world-leading academic institutions — we embark upon building the world’s premier institute for tourism, the Caribbean’s economic engine.
“This is truly, a dream come true.”
Stewart also spoke of the transformative power of tourism for Caribbean economies, saying, “Tourism is the single most powerful industry across the Caribbean and its ability to connect with and impact wider industries and subsequently Caribbean economies is often under-appreciated.
“This partnership and this school are an obvious investment in the education of Caribbean people, but beyond that it is also an investment in Caribbean tourism and the many other critical industries that we support.
“This investment will go a far way towards mapping the pathway for the survival of the region.
Hundreds of thousands of Caribbean nationals depend on tourism, whether directly or indirectly.
As a result, Stewart says, “This school is an investment in our young people, in the future of the Caribbean and represents our understanding of the critical role of tourism in the future of the region.”
A cutting-edge, research-led facility, the Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart International School of Hospitality & Tourism will provide students with an immersive, holistic world-class learning and training experience, by marrying the academic excellence synonymous with The UWI and FIU, with the groundbreaking innovation and world-leading hospitality standards that have come to trademark the Sandals brand.
The Institution, touted as the 21st century symbol of the ideal relationship between the private sector, academia and civil society, is poised to become the flagship centre of hospitality and tourism in the region and will also focus on providing meaningful learning experiences for students outside the classroom.
Stewart revealed, “My father believed in learning by experience – ‘on-the-job training,’ as he often put it. As a consummate entrepreneur and a lifelong dreamer, he knew success was born beyond the boardroom, found instead in moments of exploration and discovery.
“It is this understanding that will inspire the world-class curriculum, putting students in real-world experiences as part of their development.”
According to Stewart, “The partnership embraces the core objectives of increasing access to globally -ranked education, improving alignment with critical and influential industry needs and aspirations, demonstrating agility and responsiveness to the challenges of tourism and hospitality education and practice and delivering focused academic leadership and quality assurance processes, consistent with the Universities’ respective policies, standards and procedures.