For some fresh travel ideas and perspectives for 2015, we spoke with Graham Horner, Director of Sales and Marketing for tour operator Scott Dunn, and father of three well-travelled children, Leo (6 years), Ginny (4 years), Rufus (6 months).
Give us a background to the Scott Dunn brand; when and where did it launch? What does it offer?
We’re an award-winning luxury tour operator that has been creating tailor-made holidays to incredible destinations all over the world for over 28 years.
The story begins in 1986 with one man, Andrew Dunn, and one great idea to organise great ski holidays. That idea became a reality, and before long, Andrew was leading a dedicated team, crafting luxury ski chalet and ski hotel experiences for the most discerning guests.
Since then, we’ve taken our expertise to the Mediterranean by adding luxury villas to our portfolio. Part of the chalet/villa experience is enjoying a full Scott Dunn staff, including private chef and host. And for families, fully qualified UK nannies are on hand too.
In addition to ski chalets and summer villas, we also arrange bespoke luxury holidays to amazing destinations (and the finest properties) around the world, completely tailored to your requirements and to your budget. Our consultants have been to every property in their specialist destination, so they know their area like the back of their hand; they will therefore only recommend properties ideally suited to you and your party.
What types of trips can Scott Dunn help arrange for our readers in Hong Kong?
Pretty much anything required, from exploring Borneo’s caves, rivers and mountains before heading to the beaches of Langkawi. Or taking a journey across Japan, from Tokyo to Hakone National Park’s volcanic valley and hot springs. Maybe you want to head to the Alps for a stay in our wonderful ski chalets or have some time on the beach at Soneva Kiri in Thailand or NIYAMA in the Maldives while your children enjoy our Explorers children’s clubs at these hotels. Anything is possible. Whether it’s relaxation, culture, action or spectacular scenery and wildlife you’re after, Scott Dunn can craft a tailor-made holiday to suit.
Tell us about the children’s clubs that are a feature of Scott Dunn trips.
We run wonderful Explorers children’s clubs at luxury hotels in Europe and Asia. They look after little ones from four months upwards. Among the great family destinations that include Explorers clubs are our villas in the Mediterranean and ski chalets in the Alps; the villas and chalets come with full Scott Dunn staff, including private chef, host and fully qualified nanny if required, ensuring that everyone has an enjoyable and relaxing holiday.
What’s been your most memorable travel destination or experience to date?
Difficult question! It sounds predictable but it’s hard to beat my first sight of the Taj Mahal. I’d seen thousand pictures but when I finally got in person there it surpassed all my expectations. I was utterly mesmerised. The fact that it is surrounded by the chaos and dirt of Agra only adds to its serenity and magnificence.
Have you travelled much in Asia? Got a favourite city, sight or experience in the region?
Asia is my favourite region of the world to travel in. More than anything it’s the food – give me something hot and salty from a street stall and I am a happy man! I spent my honeymoon in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Laos really captured my imagination – the people were gentle and welcoming; and it felt less frantic than the other places we visited. We were there during Songkran; I remember being repeatedly doused by kids with buckets of water, which was the perfect antidote to the humidity.
You’re a father of three children who you’ve travelled with quite widely. What’s the secret to successful family travel?
Don’t stop! A lot of people think exotic holidays are over the minute their first baby is born. But that needn’t be the case. Kids love to travel; and the more you keep travelling with them, the more relaxed you become. You just need to adjust your habits: don’t try and cram so much in; fly overnight if you’re going long-haul; and make sure you’ve always got the next meal planned.
What’s the one item you’d never leave out of your suitcase, and out of your children’s suitcase?
My suitcase: my swimming trunks. I can’t imagine being in the presence of a swimming pool and not being able to dive straight in. My children’s suitcase: iPads. What did we ever do before?
Three hot travel destinations for 2015: We asked Graham to peer into the crystal ball and tell us which three destinations would be the “big thing” among travellers this year.
* New Zealand – great for honeymooners and for parents with older children; so many amazing adventures to be had and great activities.
* Sri Lanka – great destination for couples and honeymoon alike; twinning the trip with the Maldives makes it a great culture and beach itinerary.
* Ethiopia – truly incredible destination with amazing history.
For more information about destinations, trips, bookings, Explorers children’s clubs and more, visit scottdunn.com.