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Meet the Boss: David Atkin, ITC Sports

anassabears-paw-hotel

Each week at 101 Holidays we interview one of the people behind the UK’s finest tour operators. This week we meet up with David Atkin, Director of Sports at International Travel Connections. David lives in Chester with his wife, Aimée, and their children Beth, three, and one-year-old Joe.

* Where did you go on holiday last summer, and why? Any plans for next summer?

Southern Spain. We stay near a small village 35 minutes north of Marbella called Tolox, where my mother-in-law has a villa. The kids love it and there are some very nice little restaurants nearby. We’ll be back there again this year, no doubt.

* What is your favourite bolthole in the UK, and why?

A lovely little place called Warmingham, near Sandbach in Cheshire. We escape to a hotel there called the Bear’s Paw every now and then – the rooms are contemporary (pictured above, right) and comfortable and the food is excellent. A roaring fire in the winter for an afternoon with the papers and a good old-fashioned English fry up – highly recommended.

* If you could spend a long weekend in any city abroad, which would you pick, and why?

Paris. It’s just brilliant for a short break and there is so much to do that we manage to experience something different each time, plus my wife speaks fluent French, which helps. This year we’ll be going for the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe in October.

* Please tell us three items that are always found in your luggage.

My iPod, a must when sitting in airports watching the world go by. I’m never without a camera and lastly a note pad and paper, in case I figure out how to re-invent the wheel.

* What one thing would most improve people’s overall holiday experience?

If hotels could be more intuitive with understanding clients’ needs it would go a long way to upgrading the experience. There is nothing more impressive than arriving somewhere and the property having an instant understanding of your needs. We notice this even more now as we travel as a family – anything the hotel does to make our lives easier is much appreciated.

* What has been your worst holiday experience?

Holidays have been pretty good on the whole … but my worst travel experience was a contracting trip in Zermatt when I managed to break my collar bone on the slopes. I was airlifted off the mountain and had to make my own way from Visp hospital back to the hotel in all my snowboarding kit. Then I had to get back to the UK lugging my bags with one arm.

* Tell us your favourite hotel: in the UK; in mainland Europe; in the rest of the world.

Turnberry Resort in Scotland is a wonderful property. Its location is stunning, the rooms and public areas have been beautifully refurbished, there is a very good spa and plenty of activities, including the extremely challenging golf courses!

Anassa in Cyprus (pictured above, left) is a lovely place to relax and has all the key ingredients of a luxury property. It’s the kind of place you don’t want to leave – the rooms, service, food, facilities – everything is wonderful.

The Rest of the World is tough. There are so many superb properties across the world. The Oberoi in Mauritius comes close but my favourite would have to be The Fairmont Chateau Whistler. It surpassed expectations on all levels, I would go back in an instant.

* What is the most exciting project your company is working on right now?

There are several exciting projects ongoing including the development of a skiing programme and horse racing in the UK but our most prominent future tour is The 3 mobile Ashes Series 2010/11 which will take place in Australia from November 2010 – January 2011. We will be running a series of tours taking in one, two, three or all five Test Matches and will be joined by former England captain Michael Vaughan and regular hosts Paul Allott and Gladstone Small.

* Thank you, David.

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