Air Canada Vacations Pays Tribute to Butch Stewart
Stewart and Montagnese showing off the partnership through co-branded vehiclesAir Canada Vacations (ACV) is paying tribute to Gordon “Butch” Stewart noting the positive impact he has left on the travel industry and tourism in the Caribbean.
ACV reflected on Gordon “Butch” Stewarts life stating that he was widely known in the travel industry as the creator of the legendary Sandals brand, with the hotelier’s larger-than-life personality contributing to its celebrity. But to his friends and partners, Stewart was far more than a series of accomplishments in hospitality. He was the ultimate host and a true visionary, wrapping everyone around him in the warmth of his kindness while always keeping them on their toes.
The relationship between Sandals and Air Canada Vacations dates back to the beginning of the resort empire. The partnership began with the opening of the Sandals Montego Bay in the early eighties and blossomed into a unique connection embedded in the everyday work of both teams. ACV highlighted that strength of the partnership has remained strong, with Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations adding flights and packages to every destination where a Sandals or Beaches resort opened its doors.
Reflecting on his relationship with Stewart, Nino Montagnese, Vice-President of Air Canada Vacations, relates “it evolved into more than a partnership. It was a true friendship. After a conference at the Royal Plantation in Jamaica, Mr. Stewart took us to his favourite place on the island for a swim. We talked about life, our dreams and our love of travel.”
ACV believes Stewart’s combination of charisma, passion and vision are what led to his success. His love for his Jamaican homeland and the majesty of the Caribbean allowed the visionary leader to imagine endless possibilities.
“If Mr. Stewart spoke, you listened,” remembers Diana Rodriguez, Director of Product Development at Air Canada Vacations. “Not because it was the right thing to do, but because you wanted to take him in and catch a little bit of that ‘dream big’ attitude. Imagine taking a small corner of the globe and bringing it to the attention of the entire world. This is a huge legacy that will never be duplicated.”
Upon the news of his passing, members of the Air Canada Vacations team recounted stories of their interactions with the hotel innovator throughout the years. Although the details of each story were different, one recurring theme emerged: Butch Stewart shone his light on everyone he met.
His legacy will carry on through generations. For the Air Canada Vacations team, reminders of the special partnership endure beyond the hotel megastars passing. Montagnese nods to the co-branded vehicles driven by the tour operator’s sales team as an example, remembering the time that Stewart flew to Canada to personally hand him the keys to the new fleet.
Dina Bertolo, Vice-President of Product Development, remarked that the relationship between Sandals and ACV was “a match made in heaven. We are proud to say that it remains stronger than ever today”
ACV concluded that the passing of Butch Stewart has come as a great loss to the travel community he helped build. Although his absence will be markedly felt by industry peers for years to come, his professional and personal accomplishments have indelibly left the world with something it desperately needs – hope for the endless possibilities he envisioned.
Stewart celebrating his 75th birthday with the Air Canada Vacations Team