JAM | Feb 8, 2024

Adam Stewart firmly holds decision-making power at Sandals despite Cheryl Hammersmith-Stewart disgruntlement

Al Edwards

Al Edwards / Our Today

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Adam Stewart, Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International delivers a riveting keynote speech during the 29 th Annual Graduate Student Research Conference at FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. (Photo: Contributed)

There is a legal battle over the estate of deceased hotel mogul Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, the founder of Sandals Resorts. The division of his estate among his family has become a contentious issue with his partner for many years, Cheryl Hammersmith-Stewart looking to secure sums and assets for herself and the three children she bore Butch Stewart.

It was made very clear to all for many years that Adam Stewart would succeed his father and run his group of companies. He worked by “The Chairman’s” side as such from the age of 25.

When the fateful day came, it was supposed to be an easy and effortless transition, one that many associated with Butch Stewart’s companies were on board with.

Butch Stewart established Cromwell, a private trust company to take care of his family and both he and family members did not wish for the details of provisions of the trust to be made public. It is a family matter.

Late Jamaican hotelier and business mogul, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart.

On the death of his father in January 2021, Adam Stewart succeeded him as chairman of the Sandals/ATL Group of companies.

The matter over the estate is being heard in the Bahamas’ Supreme Court where Sir Ian Winder, Chief Justice pronounced, “Cheryl’s claim in a nutshell is a direct attack on the independence of Cromwell in what she says is the favouring of Adam over her and her children in addition to what she perceives as their failure to carry out the expressed wishes of the founder as the settlor of the trusts.

“The relief sought is that Cromwell be replaced while she pursues this claim. There is no direct attack on any provision of either of the trusts or any other deed of trust or trust indenture declared by Cromwell. It is a direct attack on Cromwell’s performance. The action on its face is not a challenge to the validity of a provision of the trusts.”

In short, the way Chief Justice Sir Ian Winder sees it, this constitutes “ an indirect attack” on Adam Stewart’s acumen in selecting the trust’s directors. The salient point to note here is that there will be no dimunition of those who control and run Sandals and Beaches. That remains in tack and the hotels are operated and managed under their discretion.

Since his father has passed on, Adam Stewart has extended the Sandals footprint to Curaçao and will be placing the famous resort brand in St Vincent. He launched Sandals Dunns’ River in Ocho Rios as well. Last year he secured the rights to be the dealer for the world’s largest EV manufacturer BYD in the Caribbean.

Sandals executive chairman Adam Stewart (centre) alongside prime ministers Andrew Holness (left) and Philip Davis (right) at the January 27, 2023 opening ceremony of the Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort and Offshore Island in The Bahamas. (Photo: Twitter @AdamStewart)

The Sandals/ATL Group has thrived under Adam Stewart.

“ To the extent that Sandals is governed or managed, it is managed by the Advisory Board…. I therefore accept the submission that Cheryl’s application to remove Cromwell does not affect the position of the Advisory Board, so there is no severing of the link between Sandals and the trusts,” concluded Chief Justice Sir Ian Winder.


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