COMING UP FAST: Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, Sandals Resorts

COMING UP FAST: Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, Sandals Resorts - DECISIONS

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

DECISIONS

MY BEST ... Setting up on my own. My first business was selling air-conditioning units in Kingston, Jamaica. I was only 26 and within 15 months it was the biggest company of its kind in the country.

I've owned a lot of firms since, including a car-parts factory and a solar power business, as well as the Sandals resorts. I try to be the best and always go for growth - I haven't got time to wait for 5% returns.

And I don't build many hotels - it costs too much. I prefer to be the second owner, the one who makes money. I work closely with travel agents.

You can cut out the agent if you're selling pounds 299 packages, but Sandals holidays costs pounds 4,000. For that much, people expect to deal with a warm body.

MY WORST ...

I made a lot of mistakes with my first Sandals, which I opened in 1981.

The hotel I bought had a fantastic beach, but it was right by the airport.

I mean right by it. In those days, BA flew Viscounts, very noisy aircraft.

When one came over at night it was enough to make you fall out of bed.

I got it cheap, but spent a pile doing it up - it cost much more than I expected. And although I'd been a salesman all my life, I had trouble with the marketing. I was used to being number one at whatever I did, so I was surprised when it took me several years to get the offering and service level right. But I got there in the end. Now I've got 16 hotels in six countries.

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