SAINT LUCIA’S Michael Chastanet has been awarded a Knighthood in the New Year’s Honours list by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11, with the title of Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG).
The honour bestowed on Mr. Chastanet is a tribute for his outstanding achievements and contribution to business, commerce, tourism and national development.
This title is the third and highest accolade Mr. Chastanet has received from Her Majesty over the last 18 years.
Mr. Chastanet was celebrated with the title of Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 2010 and prior to that, Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2001 – and bothinvestitures were held at Buckingham Palace.
The newly-titled Sir Michael Chastanet has long described himself as an ‘Entrepreneur’. He is a born businessman, but Sir Michael credits “tenacity and perseverance” as major aspects of his success.
The motto of this distinguished order is “Auspiciummeliorisaevi” or “token of a better age”.
Sir Michael is seen by many here as exemplifying the strength and dignity of this distinguished order and his third award is being celebrated by friend and observers alike.
The three accolades administered were made under three different Saint Lucia government administrations, which is seen by many as also highlighting the integrity of the recipient.
Mr. Chastanet can be credited with contributions both economically and commercially on island, with a diverse range of investments including shipping, real estate, retail and tourism.
In addition, Sir Michael has held both Chairman and Directorship roles on several statutory boards from banking to government with a penchant to advising investors.
As a businessman he is most proud of generating employment at various levels over 65 years.
Always putting Saint Lucia in the forefront, Chastanet has travelled extensively with a keen eye to see what opportunities he can initiate on island.
While doing business in the Eastern Caribbean, North America and Europe, Michael always made time to meet a wide range of businesses with an eye on what could be of advantage to Saint Lucians.
Noting what services would be viable locally and the economic environment fully aware of the landscape and challenges.
Most of all, it had to be affordable to the consumer and catering to a wide market.
In addition to his business ventures, Michael has held roles as Chairman of National Development Corporation to meet and entice investors to the island.
In addition, the local businessman sat on numerous boards as both Chairman and Director over the years.
His views on business e is often consulted to for his valued insight on the economy and businesses on island.
Investors have gravitated to Mike over the years when looking to invest on island as he is known to have a good pulse on the market.
These have included Butch Stewart, Chairman of Sandals Resorts; Dennis O’Brien of Digicel; Emilie Elias and John Connon of construction firm NH International of Trinidad; Bizzy Williams of Structural Systems and CO Williams of Barbados among many others.
Often considering himself as an employment agency, Michael values the importance of creating jobs.
Having left school at 17 to help his aging father support his nine siblings studying abroad, education has been the number one priority he has instilled on his children and grandchildren.
The following are some of his ventures he has been credited with on island since graduating from St Mary’s College at 17 years of age:
Shipping: From the age of 17, Michael worked in the shipping business for 33 years which started with 50-ton wooden vessels and graduating to 4,500 ton steel hulls. For the sake of the business, Michael and family moved from Saint Lucia to Puerto Rico, Florida and New York in order to stay on top of his trade. During this time, the majority of crew originated from Saint Lucia.
Trading started with a cargo ship making runs down the west coast of the island with rice, sugar, flour and household items to the seaside towns too difficult to reach by road with passengers added to boost the financial viability of each trip. Over the 33 years, trade included shipping cargo from Canada and the US Gulf States to Central and South America as far south as Chile and as far east as North, Central and South Africa. It is interesting to note that over Mr. Chastanet’s business career some 4000 persons were employed as a result of his foresight in his various adventures.
Warehouses: Warehouses to facilitate start-ups and small businesses proved to be an easy build as it was a shell offering tenants affordable office and storage space which have expanded in the last 40 years
Caribbean Metals: Partnered with Structural Systems from Barbados having seen the ease of building with metal frames. This was applied to his first mall, Gablewoods at Choc.
Retail: Gablewoods North at Choc and Gablewoods South in Vieux Fort along with Rodney Bay Heights.
Residential properties: A wide range of properties are currently in his portfolio from Cap Estate in the north to Vieux Fort in the South catering to tenants of all budgets.
Supermarkets: Partnered with Barbadian investors launching Julian’s at Gablewoods North in Choc in the 1980’s was Chastanet’s first entry to the supermarket business. This expanded to buying JQ Charles Supermarkets followed by further expansion with Trinidadian supermarkets Neil and Massey to feature the Massey Stores operating today.
Hotels: 2003 Coco Kreole 20-room hotel in Rodney Bay
2005 Coco Palm 83 room Coco Palm hotel two years later. Managed today by his daughter, Feolla, with over 150 employees.
Carnival Sailing: Partnered with Barbadian businessmen operating similar business in Barbados. Employing over 40 persons and investment in catamarans over the years offering both local and tourist pleasure boat charters and excursions.
Media: Columnist contributing to the local newspapers on business and economy. TV talk show ‘Open Mike’ with guests conversing on current affairs.
PERSONAL: As the 9th child of 10, Michael was the only one of his siblings who did not earn a university degree. As the youngest boy, he had to help his elderly parents support his brothers studying abroad as doctors and engineers. This instilled a strong sense of competitiveness within to prove himself to his parents whilst also instilling the importance of education to his own family.
DOB: 1 December 1935
Family: Wife – Julia Veronica Chastanet;
Children: Allen Michael Chastanet, Feolla Nina Gabrielle Chastanet, Abigail Williams and Justin Chastanet;
Grandchildren: Rhyan and Braden Chastanet, Megan and Poppy Williams.