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Meet the Boss: Lesley Rollo, Thomson Tailormade

bali

Each week at 101 Holidays we meet the movers and shakers behind the UK’s leading tour operators. This week we chat to Lesley Rollo, Programme Director of Thomson Tailormade. Lesley has worked in the travel industry for 12 years and lives in Surrey with her husband Steve and two daughters, aged 3 and 8.

• Where are you planning to go on holiday this year, and why?

Singapore and Bali – a great combination of vibrant city and tranquil beach. Quite an ambitious itinerary with two young children but the overnight flights in both directions to me are easier than a few hours in the air during daylight.

I haven’t ever holidayed in Bali – I’ve only ever visited in a work capacity checking out hotels and negotiating contracts. However, I always vowed to return on my own holidays as the people are so warm and friendly. Bali has a unique spiritual atmosphere.

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

I am originally from Newcastle and I love spending time up on the North East coast in Northumberland. The beaches are white and sandy and the views from the clifftops quite breathtaking. There are some wonderful towns and villages to explore, lots of castles and plenty of great pubs and restaurants to stop in along the way.

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

Paris is my favourite city – having lived there as part of my university course, I like to think I know a lot more places to go than the average tourist, which I think makes for a better experience. It is a very walkable and compact city which I love and also the accessibility is second to none with the Eurostar on our doorstep – I don’t think I would ever fly to Paris again.

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

Sun cream – lots of it. I cannot bear sunburn, having suffered in my teenage years when I was obsessed with coming home from holiday with a tan.

Pashminas of various colours – wherever I go in the world, I always worry that it may get chilly in the evenings – I may never use them but I always take them.

At least one unknown item that one of my children has slipped in secretly – a toy, book, teddy or similar…

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

I would say, don’t be afraid to be a bit more adventurous than you would normally – if you are taking the step to travel long haul I would always encourage people to try and take in more than one place, whether a combination of city and beach, or a safari plus a beach. Given the excellent value around at the moment, with many airlines offering free stopovers, the cost is often less than you think.

• What has been your worst holiday experience?

I don’t think I have had one recently as I always think you can make the best of something, wherever you are. However if I think back many years, there was the time when I went to the Dordogne with my parents and brother. Although it was August, it rained and rained the whole time – a disaster!

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

In UK, it is the Mandarin Oriental, London. In the rest of Europe it is the Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris (pictured top left). And the rest of the world: Raffles in Singapore.

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

It’s difficult to pinpoint any one thing at the moment (or to divulge any top secret projects!) However, we have an exciting new Latin America programme in the making and lots of enhancements to our website to make sure customers can easily navigate and find the holiday suited to them at the right price.

• Thank you, Lesley

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