Jardine Vassell rose to the top out of 26 nominees representing Sandals, Beaches and Grand Pineapple Resorts, as well as ATL Automotive Limited, ATL Automotive Car Rental, Appliance Traders Limited, the Jamaica Observer and Island Routes Caribbean Adventures.
With her name forever etched in history as the winner of the special tenth anniversary staging of the award show, Vassell, a supervisor at Beaches Ocho Rios’ Photoshop and a former coordinator and team leader in the resort’s Kids Camp, walked away with an enviable volley of prizes including a cash award of US$20,000, a monumental and symbolic increase over the cash prize of previous years. Vassell’s winning ways also earned her a luxury-included, all-expenses-paid trip for two to an overseas Sandals or Beaches property with an exclusive private jet round-trip transfer to the destination of choice, champagne service, luxury ground transfers, a host of VIP resort experiences and the coveted Ultimate Team Member trophy.
Sandals Grenada’s Team Member of the Year, Richie James, says “I am happy for Jardine. In fact I am happy for all of us. We got to spend the week together with the most outstanding personalities of the group of companies. During the week as we learned about each other, we bonded and on top of that we had a blast! From zip lining to learning the origins of the company, I feel lucky to have that experience with this group of persons. These are my new friends, and we will continue to stay in touch.”
Overcome with gratitude and emotion, Vassell, who joined the company in 2005, told the packed room that her dream was to become a nurse but her inability to pay her fees brought her to the gates of Beaches Ocho Rios and her passions have since changed. “I love nursing”, she said, “but I can tell you that Beaches Ocho Rios is my home and my new goal is become a Kids Camp Manager.”
She continued, “This is an overwhelming moment for me right now. The fact that I have been named the Ultimate Team Member for the entire group is a rewarding feeling. This should be an eye opener for everybody and a reminder that you’re always on stage and you don’t know who is watching you so always put your best foot forward. I am grateful for this opportunity I have gotten from Sandals Resorts International and I will treasure it dearly. Thank you to the Chairman and Deputy Chairman and my team at Beaches Ocho Rios.”
Extremely passionate about giving back, Vassell who is currently the president of the Oracabessa Police Youth Club, committed to investing time as well as a portion of her winnings into creating an annual treat for elderly residents in her community. She said, “My plan for my charity is to treat the elderly. I’m already doing a lot of work with the youth so now I want to focus on the elderly. I love to volunteer, I’m passionate about volunteerism. Whenever I go out there and get to do any kind of project that makes a life or situation better I get a different feeling inside. If I should ever be told that I cannot volunteer, trust me, you’d be taking away something from me. I volunteer twice as hard as how I work to be paid. It means the world to me.”
In a spectacular show held at the beautiful Sandals South Coast, the nominees were treated to a night of fine food and entertainment, culminating in a surprise performance from reggae star Romain Virgo. Notably, the expertly produced award show was streamed live online for all team members across the group to join in.
All nominees were treated to gifts of engraved sterling silver bracelets and a week of activities including tours to the Group’s various head offices in Kingston, a day of adventure at Jamwest Adventure Park and outreach in the Whitehouse community in partnership with the Sandals Foundation. According to Richie James, Sandals Grenada Team Member of the year, “Everyone was so encouraging. We met the directors of the company, and I could see why they are directors, they have so much team spirit and drive.”
In a captivating speech, Deputy Chairman of the Sandals/ATL Group Adam Stewart encouraged the nominees to find their passion and to make the best of every chance they receive. He also urged those with the wherewithal, to take chances on young talent, reminding the room that the company’s success was largely due to the fact that many people gave his father and the company’s Chairman, the Honourable Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart chances.
He said, “Success has to be about teamwork and giving people chances. Every one of us in this room is unique and everyone watching across the region is unique, we all have something inside of us that is magic. All it takes for that magic to manifest is a chance. Tonight is about recognizing a group of winners, a group of people that are finding their passion and making the most of the opportunities and chances they receive. We treasure you, we appreciate you and we will continue to go above and beyond to provide you with the chances you need to become your best selves.”
For James, “My perspective has been broadened. Seeing the small, humble origins of the company and what it has become today, has inspired me on a personal level.”
To identify the ultimate winner, nominees were assessed by various criteria, including team spirit, training hours, attendance record, ambassadorial qualities, and community and environmental stewardship. After weeks of examining the nominees’ profiles, the selection panel was confident to announce Vassell as the Ultimate Team Member – the best of the company’s 14,000-strong team.