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Friday 23rd March 2012

‘Leaders Launch Sandals Corporate University’ (L - R):  Honourable Prime Minister of the Bahamas Hubert Ingraham, Honourable Sandals Chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart, Honourable Prime Minister of Jamaica Portia Simpson Miller, Honourable Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Baldwin Spencer, Honourable Prime Minister of St. Lucia Dr. Kenny Anthony and Sandals CEO Adam Stewart.
In a show of commitment to the development of the tourism product across the Caribbean, the Prime Ministers of Jamaica, The Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Lucia endorsed the Sandals Corporate University (SCU) at its launch on Wednesday, March 21st.
Held at the Sandals Grande Riviera Beach and Villa Golf Resort, the launch of the SCU was witnessed by a full audience of local and regional government ministers, key players in the local hospitality industry, representatives from the SCU's partner institutions and local corporate giants. Antigua and Barbuda’s contingent included the Honourable Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, the Honourable Minister of Finance and the Economy, Harold Lovell and the Honourable Minister of Tourism, John Maginley. Team members at Sandals Grande Antigua and Grand Pineapple Beach Resort watched the launch via live streaming.
Guest speaker and Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, the Honourable Dr. Kenny Anthony, heaped praises on the SCU and on the Sandals Group in general. He compared the Group to major international companies like McDonalds and Boeing, who have also launched corporate universities. He said the launch of the SCU is a big move for the regional tourism industry and asserted that “no Government worth its salt could ignore the necessity to invest in education.” He commended the Sandals Group for understanding that the key to ensuring the success of the product is to invest in those who manage it and added “It is not the splendor of buildings that make the product, but the ordinary worker who interacts with guests.” 
Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, said the Sandals Group has played an important role in strengthening and diversifying the tourism product throughout the region and has also contributed immensely to the economic growth of the countries where the company has resorts. She commented on the importance of education to the further development of the region, saying, “Show me an educated people and I will show you a prosperous nation and in this case, a prosperous region.”
Bahamian Prime Minister, the Honourable Hubert Ingraham also expressed his support for the initiative and praised the Sandals Group for the positive impact it has had on the Bahamian economy. He said, “We are very appreciative of Butch Stewart and Sandals; they have been good and wonderful for The Bahamas and we are fully supportive of this initiative and we will give you every support we can."
Similar views were echoed by Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, the Honourable Baldwin Spencer who hailed Sandals as a “Caribbean brand of hospitality.” He said the SCU would bring work, education and training together in a wonderful way and added that if the regional tourism product is to stand on its own and compete in the international market, there must be confidence in the workforce and in the capacity of Caribbean people.
Chairman of the Sandals Group, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, said the SCU is another manifestation of the company’s philosophy of giving guests more than they expect. He said, "It is impossible to deliver customer service with exceptional quality if you are not equipped with the attitude, skill and knowledge. Equipping the team with these attributes is what professional education and training is about and this has always been a major focus of Sandals." 
The SCU formalizes the staff training and development process, which has always been important to the Sandals Group. Through partnerships with internationally recognised universities such as Canada-based Ryerson University, the SCU’s programmes place staff on a learning pathway that can ultimately lead to a masters and/or doctoral degrees. Similar partnerships with the Western Hospitality Institute in Jamaica afford team members the opportunity to obtain associate and bachelor’s degrees; while the Jamaican Foundation for Life Long Learning will provide classes in Mathematics and English for those in pursuit of high school equivalency.  It is anticipated that at least 2500 team members will benefit from the SCU over the next 12 months.  
In a marked gesture of unity and support, the Heads of Government joined the Group’s Chairman and CEO in unveiling the SCU crest, at the end of the ceremony.

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