Sandals founder and chairman Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart has died at the age of 79.

One of the most successful Jamaican businessman, he was known for creating the all-inclusive resort concept in the Caribbean.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, he grew up along the country’s north coast, where he came to be known as ‘Butch’, a nickname given to him by an American sailor.

MoreSandals UK chief pays tribute to founder ‘Butch’ Stewart

His death on Monday in the US was confirmed by his son, Adam Stewart, who told the Jamaica Observer that his father had kept a recent health diagnosis private.

“This news seems almost unbelievable, since our chairman was as involved and forward-thinking as ever,” he said.

Adam Stewart described his father as a gifted entrepreneur, marketing genius and talented showman, “but those who knew him best recognised that he was a dreamer who could dream bigger and better than anyone.

“It was often said, ‘the best thing for people around him to do is be dream catchers’.

“That’s why he always credited his success to the incredible team around him, why he listened intently when it came to creating innovative things that would excite and delight our guests, and why it is so important that I remind you today of all days that we will all continue to be his dream catchers.

“Together, we have all been part of something bigger than ourselves, led by a man who believed in us and who gave us opportunities to learn, grow and the tools to make dreams real. For him, and because of him, we will continue to dream big and deliver on his certainty that true luxury is always best enjoyed by the sea.

“My dad lived a big life – husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather entrepreneur, statesman, dreamer.

“A singular personality and an unstoppable force who revelled in defying the odds, exceeding expectations and whose passion for his family was matched only by the people and possibility of the Caribbean, for whom he was a fierce champion.”

Jamaica’s prime minister Andrew Holness described Stewart as “one of Jamaica’s most brilliant, innovative and transformative business minds”.

He added: “Butch was a man way ahead of his time. He had an eye for details and his ability to market and deliver world-class service in any endeavour was tremendously distinctive. He was an extraordinary human being with an unwavering commitment to the social good.”

Clive Jacobs, chairman of Travel Weekly parent Jacobs Media Group, described Stewart as “a remarkable, inspirational and naturally gifted entrepreneur who changed the Caribbean landscape by unlocking the all-inclusive resort with radical innovation”.

Lisa McAuley, managing director B2B at dnata Europe, said: “My deepest condolences to the Stewart family and Sandals team. A travel legend in the truest sense with an indelible legacy.”

Watch Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart after receiving the Travel Weekly Globe Travel Award for Oustanding Contribution to the Industry in 2012.

MoreSandals UK chief pays tribute to founder ‘Butch’ Stewart