In our latest Meet the Boss interview, we talk toÂ Emma Barnett, Managing Director ofÂ Tots Too. Emma foundedÂ Essential Escapes in 2002, following a career in luxury travel which saw herÂ travelÂ extensively around the globe visiting some of the worldâs top spa destinations and resorts.Â Now a mother of four, she launched sister company, Tots Too, to help parents find the world’sÂ best spa resorts with second-to-none kids facilities so that Emma, and parents like her,Â could continue to enjoy the luxury spa holidays she had enjoyed before the arrival of children.
Q. Please tell us about a great holiday memory from your childhood.
I went to Hawaii on a business trip with my dad and remember, even at the age of six, thinking how exotic it was. I learnt to swim in aÂ huge pool, ate chicken and chips in a basket with club sodas every day for lunch and remember hula dancing round a giant pig on a spit.
Q. What three items are always found in your hand luggage?
iPad, Dr Haushka hand cream and lip gloss.
Q. If you could spend next weekend anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?
I love Indonesia. The people are so warm and hospitable and the food is amazing. There is a real spirituality to the country and it’s one of the few places that have evoked very strong emotions in me. I love Asia but IÂ find Indonesia to be the most magical.
Q. Please tell us about a particularly challenging booking you have handled.
We had a client who wanted us to fly over a string quartet for him to serenade his wife. Easy in the UK but not so easy on a small Greek island. Needless to say we did manage it.
Q. What has been your most enjoyable holiday in recent years?
I went toÂ Daios CoveÂ in 2012 when I was heavily pregnant with number fourÂ and had my three other kids in tow with the youngest being only 13 months. The fantastic kids club run by WWKC, the head of guest services and restaurant hostess Ana all helped to make it very easy for me. We had three hours off every afternoon and babysitting for the baby every evening. We were alwaysÂ given the same great table at breakfast with amazing personal service and room service at 6pm every day with the most delicious food for the kids. Everything ran so smoothly that I truly relaxed on this holiday. Unimaginable, really, considering.
Q. And what has been your all-time worst holiday experience?
I booked a diving holiday in Watamu, Kenya, for my sister’s 30thÂ birthday. The first week of the holiday was an amazing uber luxury safari experience in the Masai Mara (paid for by my previous company) so when it came to me paying, the standards had to drop! The hotel was awful with dirty rooms, depressing public areas and some very dubious clients. It didnât help that the weather was badÂ for the whole week, the food was inedible and the diving conditions were very unfavourable. It was the longest week of our lives.
Q. What luxury would you take to your desert island?
AÂ martini â my outlook is always a lot sunnier when Iâve had a martini.
Q. What one thing would most improve peopleâs overall holiday experience?
Good childcare. When the kids are happy and entertained, thatâs one less job for the parents to think about and then they too can relax and enjoy the things they wouldnât normally have time for at home like spa treatments or romantic dinners.
Q. Tell us your favourite hotel â one for business, one for pleasure.
Hotel for pleasure is the Ritz-Carlton, Abama in TenerifeÂ and for business it would be The Oriental in Bangkok.
Q. What is the most exciting project your company is working on right now?
Our family experiences for kids that are a bit olderÂ -Â weâve started with exclusive jungle safaris in Sri Lanka which has been a huge hit so far. There is more in pipeline but I canât divulge too much at this stage.