Glowing tributes paid to hotelier Louis Grant
Debbie Grant still has a copy of the handwritten three-page letter her late husband, Louis Alexander Grant; wrote 30 years ago convincing her why she should date him.
Grant, whose life was celebrated last Tuesday afternoon by hundreds of family members, friends, tourism stakeholders and well-wishers, at the time was ready to transition from the life of a bachelor to the role of a family man.
He was general manager of the iconic Sandals Dunn’s River at the time, having made his mark at the Jamaica Tourist Board in Chicago, the former Negril Beach Hotel (now Hedonism II) and the Playboy Hotel here in Jamaica.
In a stirring tribute to her husband, Debbie who was married to Grant for 27 years reminisced on the man who became her soulmate and best friend. “Louis seemingly transitioned from a bachelor to a family man, Sundays became boating, jet ski. He was the best father to our daughters,” she stated, breaking down slowly while her two daughters, doctors Bianca Underwood and Ali Peterson played the role of anchors.
Grant who was a ‘techie’, loved watersports, fast cars, big-screen televisions, music and every new gadget that added meaning to his life. “His driving skills were excellent and he liked to test his cars with the speed limit. He enjoyed buying a car, restoring it to immaculate condition and selling it in a flash, as if everyone wanted a pre-owned vehicle,” Debbie said of her husband to the sounds of laughter from the audience.
More importantly, she said he wanted the celebration of his life to be short and filled with happy memories, and that was exactly what he received. Sandals Resorts International outdid themselves sending him home in fine style, taking charge of the food and beverage.
The thanksgiving service held on the beach side of the Plantation Cove property in Richmond, St. Ann, was one filled with joy, anecdotes and immense love and appreciation for the former Cornwall College graduate who met former Prime Minister Percival James Patterson while a fifth-former at the Montego Bay high school and remained friends with him up the time of his death.
Louis Grant was 81 when he died two weeks ago, and Patterson declared there was no stopping him from appearing at the service to speak of the special bond they enjoyed for over 60 years, and how the late hotelier had enriched the tourist industry.
“There came a period when the government and particularly, the ministry which I was responsible for had to acquire and operate hotels and we were looking for outstanding marketing competence and persons who were equipped to be managers, that’s why Grant was invited to return to Jamaica from Chicago,” said Patterson.
So caring was Grant to Patterson that he said his stressful life at a politician would not go unnoticed and his friend would call and say, “Look here, you need a break, come down and I will ensure that you rest and recuperate to continue with your job”.
He described his friend as a supreme manager, who knew how to get the best out of his team. Everybody who worked for him, knew he was committed to support their advancement. “He has served with distinction in the field of his choice,” added Patterson.
Brian Roper, general manager of Sandals Boscobel, spoke on behalf of the hotel chain and executive chairman Adam Stewart who was unavoidably absent.
Grant joined Sandals at their flagship resort in Montego Bay in 1991, and Roper said he created loyalty around him. “He loved everybody, some of the love was tough love,” he admitted, but Grant taught many of his staff to drive, gave them confidence to solve every problem and never micromanaged.
“It’s no coincidence that many success stories in the hospitality industry today have all worked with Louis Grant. If there was a prize for the general manager who graduated the most success stories in the Sandals group, he would have won hands down, first, second, third and fourth as well,” stated Roper.
Grant made such an indelible mark in the lives of so many Jamaicans, even first lady of the parish, Custos Norma Walters, while paying her respects to him, described him as a decent human being, who had care, compassion and tremendous virtues.
He served as justice of the peace, and was well-grounded in service to humanity, who played a selfless role as a JP, giving service that was priceless, she told the gathering.
Grant’s nephew and niece Gary and Pamela Grant, niece Tobi King, and friend Clifton Reader were among the people who gave tributes at the thanksgiving service.