What has been your biggest success to date and the most significant challenge you have overcome?
Aside from my two little boys – Oscar and Felix – my biggest success to date is definitely setting up Natural World Safaris. It’s not always easy, but it is so enjoyable and never boring. I work with a fantastic team of passionate and intelligent people who manage to keep me on my toes day in and day out! It is with the help of this team that we have probably overcome our biggest challenge to date which would have to be the global recession. This hit the travel industry hard, however, as a niche specialist company, we still managed to grow year on year throughout this period, making the company stronger and better as we progressed.
What values are at the heart of Natural World Safaris and how do you ensure you remain true to these?
The people that I work with are ultimately at the heart of Natural World Safaris. Whether it is my direct team in the office, partners on the ground, individual guides, or staff members at the properties we sell, these individuals and our relationships with them – all the way through the supply chain - are crucial in what makes us different. If we know and understand our colleagues and partners and they know and understand us and our expectations, then this can only result in a happy client at the end of the day.
At NWS we truly believe in our brand values and we are still small enough to ensure that our values run through everything we do. We specialise in putting our clients in the right place at the right time in order to maximise their safari experience and this is down to our knowledge. Where we truly stand out from our competitors is our expertise in the destinations that we sell. The majority of the team have either lived, guided or worked in the destinations that they now sell, this makes for an unparalleled experience from start to finish.It is not necessarily about luxury lodges or spas or vintage wines (although it can be if you want!!!), it is about the experience first, and then the luxury. After all, what’s the point in visiting somewhere if at the end of the day you see nothing?
What the profile is of a Natural World Safaris traveller? How do they approach travel?
I was going to start by saying the ‘average NWS traveller…’ but obviously none of our clients are average! Our clients are usually well-educated, and knowledgeable about the world as a whole and more specifically about travel. They know what they want and have often travelled throughout their lives, always on the look-out for that next journey into the extraordinary. From honeymooners to families to empty nesters, our clients are rightly demanding and expect high things of us as a team. They want the best experience possible and they want to be guided in making that decision of where to travel next and why.
Where are your favourite lodges and why?
There are so many properties to choose from these days this is tricky. I would have to say that one of the best lodge locations in Africa has to be that of Virunga Lodge in Rwanda. This stunning eco-lodge is located at 2,300m overlooking lakes Ruhondo and Bulera as well as the chain of Virunga Volcanoes as they drift off into the distance and into the heart of Africa. Stunning views across the patchwork countryside of Rwanda as well as the glow from the volcanic peaks of Nyamuragira and Nyiragongo make this a breathtaking property. A second favourite has to be the sumptuous Zarafa Camp located in the private Selinda Concession in Botswana. With only four luxurious tents, plunge pools and views over the Zibadianja Lagoon, Zarafa is one of the most expensive but also one of the most rewarding properties in Botswana if not the whole of mainland Africa.