An Interview With Alison Scott From Elegant Resorts
Published on March 13, 2012 by Tom Volpe
When you are booking a luxury holiday one of the most important things to consider is who is going to be looking after you. That is why we were keen to have a chat with Alison Scott from Elegant Resorts. We talked about the company, about luxury travel and about Alison's personal travel exeriences...
One look at your range of properties makes it clear that Elegant Resorts is all about luxury. After choosing a great hotel, what one ingredient do you think is essential to any luxury holiday?
In the standard of accommodation we offer, luxury product and amenities is really a given. Service is the key and there has to be a good mix to suit all our clientele, some like formal and some like laid back. So it really is about ensuring that this is in place and it is impeccable in whatever form. We trust our suppliers to look after our clients as well as we do. By working closely with our partners we are never let down
It is often said that it is the little things that make a big difference to a holiday; can you tell us a little more about the concierge service that you offer to clients?
Our concierge service is about just that - organizing all the little (and big) extras that will make our clients holiday special. We are really willing to tackle anything within reason and also have offices with staff in key destinations (Barbados, Dubai, Mauritius) to ensure that everything is carried out. It is a well worn phrase but time is such a luxury these days that to know everything is sorted out in advance and you can just get on with your holiday is what people want. Services range from Christmas trees and gifts to booking spas and boats and days out, even to sorting family pets at home.
Elegant Resorts tends to win quite a few travel awards, you must be very proud to have been voted ‘Best Small Luxury Tour Operator’ by the readers of the Telegraph last year. What do you think the secret of your success is?
There is no big secret but we stand very true to our values as a luxury tour operator and take the responsibility to our clients very seriously. As such we only use the very best in accommodation and airlines and constantly monitor their service and product through various methods and feedback to ensure this is maintained. We invest a great deal in ensuring our sales teams (and also a lot of non sales) know the resorts, hotels and destinations extremely well. The real key to it is our team here at Elegant Resorts, many have been here for years and all understand the values of the company and what we are trying to achieve, this consistency is passed on to our clients, who have kindly rewarded us with awards over the years.
Getting to visit so many stunning properties must be a great perk to the job, are you allowed to tell us if you have a favourite?
I am but I don’t think I can. I have been so priviledged to stay at some amazing properties throughout the world and can safely say that I have liked each one for different reasons; I know that sounds like a diplomatic answer but it is the truth. For me for a holiday my favourite hotel is not necessarily the most opulent at all but is around the whole experience from start to finish including interaction with the staff at the hotel. I don’t like ‘stuffiness’ and I like to feel totally at ease.
You also run expeditions. Is it hard to deliver luxury to your guests in remote parts of the world like the Antarctic?
When we are looking at trips like these, luxury takes on a different meaning. There is no way to do the Arctic or a big mountain in total ‘pampered luxury’; the reality of does not allow for it and the expedition experience would not be the same; however, there is a way to do it better and this is where our expeditions excel. With our expedition partners – 360 Elite we apply the ‘best of’ concept and bring together carefully thought-out routes (with 360 you don’t just march there and back again), little extras and the best teams of guides and sherpas … all the benefits a team of highly competent people can bring to the comfort aspect of this kind of travel. That is what our guests expect and exactly what we do.
What advice can you give to someone looking to enjoy a luxury holiday on a tighter budget?
Sometimes it is the in resort spend that can be too much. I would advise people to look at all inclusive meal plans in places like the Maldives where F&B can be expensive. Equally there are some superb luxury resorts in Europe/North Africa that can be accessed by low cost carriers (ie: The Abama in Tenerife or the Four Seasons in Sharm El Sheik), this can keep the costs down and is something a lot of our clients do. It is always worth talking to one of our experts, giving your realistic budget and seeing what is there. There can be some great offers from hotels if you are able to be flexible on dates and travel and with the relationships we have with our hotel and airline partners we have the best offers and are sometimes able to source just that little bit extra for people if we fully understand their budgets and key requirements. It is more and more common for people to try and put their own holidays together – but often this is not less expensive, as there are usually many items/services not included. If you book a package through a tour operator and ensure it meets your budget, nothing extra is added on.
You must travel a lot through your job; do any personal travel highlights stand out for you?
Last year I climbed Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with a group of 10 others. It was a 6 day trek, living in tents, no facilities and climbing/trekking every day. Reaching the summit 5895m above the deep blue sea is probably the most rewarding travel experience I have ever had. It was completely divorced from my usual holidays and work trips. I loved ever dirty, tough, fun minute of it and would do another mountain again in a heartbeat. I raised £3k for Charity too.
What about low points, what are your worst travel experiences?
No real bad experiences. My biggest pet hate when travelling is waiting around and queues, I am not the most patient of people but especially at airports through the security scanners … it drives me mad! People who leave it until the last minute to check their bags, take their shoes off, take their belts off …… there are big signs telling you what to do and what you can and can’t take and I always seem to be behind the people that don’t read the signs and have to unpack and repack. As I travel so much the airport ‘novelty’ has worn off, I just want to get going, but it has to be done and is worth putting up with!
What was the last place that you stayed? What made it special?
The last place I stayed was a long weekend at the Ritz Carlton Abama in Tenerife. This is unusual for me as I normally travel long haul. It was half work/half holiday and a perfect remedy to the January blues and January diet and depravation. Just a few days of sunshine and pampering recharged my batteries.
Is there anything that you always advise your guests to take with them? What are your essential packing tips?
I think now you can pretty much buy or borrow from hotels anything you have forgotten, so apart from the obvious like personal medicines, passports (!) etc there isn’t anything you can’t source.
Personally I am a seriously bad packer! I always take too much but in hot climates for work and holiday I will just take dresses and flip flops for day and evening, they are easy to wear and pack and great for day and evening, can be dressed down or up and easy to pack and unpack with minimal creasing. I hate ironing but I hate looking creased! My only other must have is my running kit – I run a lot and it is great to use the hotel gyms (or even go outside if it’s not too hot) and do a bit of exercise.
What is the best piece of travel advice you were ever given?
I don’t think I’ve ever been given a best piece of advice …… but my own is to travel with an open mind and to have patience in unusual/difficult situations – travel delays. I always manage the open mind but the patience … not my forte! I always have a laptop and plenty of books to read to keep me busy!