Adam Stewart – Dreaming of a Greater Future for Caribbean Hospitality | Main stories
Adam Stewart has 10 major companies under his leadership, and with Sandals 2.0 a reality, the executive chairman of the luxury resort brand is dominating prime time when it comes to creative innovation.
The Sunday Gleaner sat down with the 42-year-old husband and father of three in San Juan, Puerto Rico, last week for a candid chat. Soon after, Stewart left that US territory and was on a plane to another Caribbean destination and then another, where he is building, upgrading, or just visiting one of the stations.
Stewart will tell you that he was trained and equipped for his current role very early in life by the man he dubbed “larger than life”, Gordon “Butch” Stewart – his late father.
Reminiscing about the days of accompanying his father to work as a pre-schooler, Stewart said he was put in a corner, put in situations he really shouldn’t be in, but never realized how much he gained knowledge by watching people interact, by showing professionalism. and respect at the negotiating table. Real-life lessons that can’t be taught in the classroom, he notes.
Part of my strategy
Today, he does the same, not only with his own children, but within Sandals Resorts International as well as the ATL Group of Companies, which his father founded.
“Taking team members on the road, showing them a full picture they might not see every day, and including more people in meetings is part of my strategy,” Stewart explained.
These are among the initiatives he and the Dreamers leadership team have used to inspire the 16,000 dreamcatchers employed by the luxury chain of Sandals hotels in the Caribbean region.
“The goal is to dream bigger to understand the context of hospitality, what’s happening in Caribbean hospitality, what’s happening in aviation, what’s happening with consumers, what they research and then ensuring that we have the absolute best teams in each of the divisions How we treat our aviation partners and the customer experience as a whole,” he said.
Stewart includes young thinkers in discussions about the function of travel agents, airlines and links, shopping, and everything he says becomes corporate brand standards, putting more people in the room to understand how the mechanisms work – so they can formulate their own thoughts.
BALANCE OF WORK AND FAMILY, SOULMATE’S STRONG WILL TO BEAT CANCER
Adam Stewart is responsible for Sandals, Beaches, ATL Automotive, ATL Appliance Traders, the Jamaica ObserverIsland Routes, AC Marriott Hotel, Enterprise Car Rental and partners as a Starbucks franchisee.
When asked how he balances such a demanding work schedule with his family life, Stewart’s response was, “They say you don’t know how strong you can be until you have need to be strong. I would put it in another light and say, “You don’t know what you can accomplish until you push yourself to keep accomplishing.”
Part of his quality family time is running with his wife, Jill, and they both enjoy boating and traveling. He takes his eldest to work with him, just like his father, sharing with him The Sunday Gleaner that the child asks very relevant questions, while learning the family profession.
Stewart met his soul mate Jill in 1995, on his first day at boarding school in the United States, and said he fell in love with her the same day.
“She didn’t fall in love with me so quickly, but we became very close friends. I found it fascinating that she was from the Bahamas. My family’s love for the Bahamas was long and my father basically worked to fish late in his life, and as a family he would take us to the Bahamas to catch some of the best fish in the world,” he recalls.
Interestingly, the year he met Jill, Sandals Royal Bahamian opened, so the teenage love interest began spending time with her.
Jill’s brother, sister and parents, he said, became family to him long before they married in 2009 and their trip was more than wonderful, he said. The Sunday gleaner.
That journey was rocked earlier this year when Jill – a marathon runner, who eats, sleeps and drinks healthily – was diagnosed with sarcoma, a rare group of cancers that affect bones and connective tissues such as the fat and muscle.
He described the heartbreaking event as an example of bad things happening to good people.
“She led by example – highly, highly disciplined and determined. And interestingly, Jill educated herself on the do’s and don’ts long before she was diagnosed with cancer,” her husband shared with The Sunday Gleaner.
“It’s nothing she did. There was nothing she could have prevented in her way of life. It was devastating to hear the news because you never want that to happen. But I think Jill picked up the pieces very quickly.
Stewart said following the news, he and his family went through shock and fear, but then they started doing what they had to do and educating themselves on how to cope with their news. reality.
“And there’s one thing about Jamaican society and Caribbean society as a whole – the blanket of love that people put around you. Not just by faith and prayers, but just for the willingness to help. I was so touched and blown away to see how everyone everywhere sent their best wishes,” he said.
Using her social media pages to journal her cancer journey, Stewart said Jill wanted to share her story because, in truth, neither of them had ever heard the word ‘sarcoma’ before the diagnosis.
He said they decided it was important to move on and make the most of every day, knowing the value of life.
“In a single conversation, everything can change. So she fights. Incredibly, it shows you the power of the mind. I look at her determination with her mindset to not let that get in the way of her living her best life, regardless of the diagnosis,” Stewart said.
When Adam talks about Jill, the love and affection are unmistakable.
He always knew she was amazing, he shared with admiration.
“Whether it’s cancer or some form of adversity, the power to control your thoughts and control your mind makes the difference between a positive outcome and overcoming the adversity. The mindset is amazing and I think above anything Jill shares with the world, you should never forget that the power is within you. You have to harness it,” he said. -he declares.
BUILDING ON BUTCH’S LEGACY
Adam Stewart is no stranger to pain hitting close to home. Just under two years ago, he lost his larger-than-life father, Butch.
“It’s almost like he’s immortal to some degree. When I think back to the headlines after his death, it just seems inconceivable that he wasn’t there,” Stewart said, the look of longing visible in his eyes.
His eyes lit up and his tone changed to one of adoration, talking about his father, who he said had a big, strong personality, and what he created was amazing.
“He brought me in as a young son. He saw something in me, he invested time in me and he put me in position. It is an absolute privilege for me to be able to continue the legacy. I saw how his vision changed the lives of thousands of people for the better,” he said.
The business mogul passed away on Monday, January 4, 2020, and after grooming those he left behind, the show continues.
Stewart says he gets up every day and makes sure all businesses and dreamcatchers are taken care of.
“Our vision is big, bold and strong,” he said.
The future, he said, is Sandals 2.0, and that involves harnessing the power of all that was great and reinventing it for the future.
“Everything you did 40 years ago is irrelevant today,” he explained, adding that as the only super brand to come out of the Caribbean, they know exactly who they are.
Their Caribbean-based company is run by Caribbean nationals, Stewart proudly pointed out.
“Our superpower is the Caribbean as a business. This is our belief system and we want to share all four corners of the best of the Caribbean with the world. We strongly believe in the power of hospitality,” said Stewart.
“It’s connectivity to linkages, to agriculture, to transportation, to manufacturing, to entertainment, etc. And we clearly understand that we’re competing globally.”
For him, vacationers who come to Jamaica or the Bahamas or one of their other destinations have the option of going anywhere else in the world, so it is important to convince them and gain their trust.
Sandals, Stewart said, creates 10 billion media impressions a year that portray the Jamaica brand because while promoting Sandals they also sell the destinations.
In fact, many people see the Caribbean through the lens of Sandals. If they can’t afford to stay in a Sandals, Stewart said that’s fine as long as they come to Jamaica and stay somewhere.
“The future of Sandals is one of calculated growth – one of digging deeper with training and development, one of the Caribbean’s rising superstars in leadership and building a hospitality business that is totally relevant to the traveler. today, which is very experiential about ownership,” he noted.
For this reason, Sandals announced in October 2021 the creation of the innovative Gordon Butch Stewart International School for Hospitality and Tourism in partnership with the University of the West Indies and Florida International University, to create future leaders. in the Caribbean for the sustainability of hospitality. industry.
And while he’s there, women in his companies will play key roles, with just over 25% currently in leadership positions. And he’s determined to get more women on the board and in boardrooms.
Stewart pointed to Marsha-Ann Donaldson Brown, who is in charge of weddings for the resorts; Petrena Purser at ATL; and Natalie Chin at Jamaica Observer, who lead their respective fields with considerable expertise.