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Butch swears by training

Barbadian employees working with Sandals Resorts International (SRI) will benefit from extensive internal and external training.

Gordon “Butch” Stewart, chairman of SRI, told journalists from Barbados during a familiarisation tour of Sandals’ all-inclusive Beaches Resort in Turks and Caicos last week, that employees employed at its St Lawrence Gap, Christ Church resort, and those who would be working at the coming Beaches Resort in St Peter, would benefit from training in all areas.

Stewart explained that training was a significant aspect of SRI’s culture, as the company was focused on product and employee development.

He said that culture was expected to continue in Barbados.

SRI provides employees with the opportunity to further their education by taking accredited hospitality training and courses through the Sandals Corporate University.

“I started business at 26 years old selling air conditioned units and I just believe in training. So from those days, all of the technicians that we had and all of the youngsters that we bring in to do some of the more casual work with installation graduated to senior technicians and some of them senior managers.

“We have just found that developing the people that work with you pays off because as they go up the ladder, they know the company better [and] the company becomes better. We always said that we want to provide more for the customer than the customer expects and we did from starting from nothing. Within two years we dominated the air-conditioned market by giving service,” he said.

“And when we went into the hotel business, it was all about training, training, training. We have been able to move from regular staff training to staff plus management training and now we have corporate university.”

Stewart stressed that along with training, staff members reaped personal benefits from working with SRI.

“They work at Sandals and they have an opportunity to go to the bank, the bank lends them, they buy a motor car, they buy a house . . . . We have been able to develop that culture within our organization,” he said.

During the interview, Stewart also commented on the myth that all-inclusive resorts deterred tourists from leaving the property to explore other aspects of an island’s tourism product. He explained that all sectors of the industry benefited from a hotel or resort’s presence
in a country.

“Objectively, people have to get from the airport so there are taxi drivers. Before you start, you have to get to Barbados so you are going to need airlift. Those people are going to go to restaurants and they are going to need transportation services.

“They are on holiday and they are going to drink more than normal and they are going to eat more than normal. We encourage our guests to go and see the surroundings. We reach out to sectors like agriculture because I have always felt that agriculture is the single most important sector.

“A country that can feed itself has solved most of the problem,” he added.

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