On Sunday Gordon “Butch” Stewart, chairman of Sandals Resorts International, made an appearance at the company’s latest acquisition: the golf club and 18-hole course in Cap Estate. With a team of Sandals management, and accompanied by Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee, he wanted to explain his plans for the new “Sandals Golf and Country Club”.
“We don’t plan to change too much in terms of access and significance,” commenced Stewart. “We plan to make the facilities better for the membership and all those who use it. We plan to refurbish and put additional facilities, maybe a pool for families, maybe a tennis court, and the thoughts are to put a big conference centre; that would accommodate our hotels and the wider community in Saint Lucia.
“It’s a magnificent spot. I’ve already been in touch with Mr. Greg Norman . . . who designed the championship golf course in Exuma in the Bahamas; that’s a spectacular course . . . What we’d like to do is bring it up to the level that we can have major international golf tournaments.”
Mr. Stewart declared his pride in working with Mr. Norman and emphasised his admiration for the dramatic difference that the golfing expert had made to the Bahamian course, anticipating that similar improvements will be made here.
Stewart continued, “We don’t plan to race. We plan to take our time and refurbish this building. We’ll put together a master plan of what exists and how we think we can improve it. We know the basics of what we’ll do and I really think we’ll do a job here that will benefit everybody in Saint Lucia.”
Mr. Stewart confirmed that Mr. Winston Anderson, as the manager of Sandals Grande, will have oversight of the golf course. He also acknowledged that Mr. Dominic Fedee, when he worked for Sandals for 16 years, had been ‘top drawer’.
Mr. Fedee opined, “The acquisition of this golf course is another indication of that commitment, that confidence that Sandals has in the people of Saint Lucia, and the destination . . . Today brings on board a major multinational corporation that will now be able to secure the future and sustain this important element of the tourism sector.”
The STAR asked Stewart about the free golf lessons that the club and Grow Well volunteers organise for local children. He admitted that he was unaware of this charitable work but immediately confirmed his intention that not only would it continue, there would be additional programmes and initiatives to help underprivileged Lucians.
With it being Father’s Day, Stewart was asked about his son, Adam, who was appointed CEO of Sandals Resorts at the age of 26. Stewart senior has not lost his sense of humour: “I used him for child labour.”