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Meet the Boss: James Thornton, Intrepid Travel

James Thornton, Intrepid TravelIntrepid Travel

Here at 101 Holidays, we like to get to know the people behind the world’s finest travel companies. This week we talk to James Thornton, Managing Director of global adventure tour operator, Intrepid Travel. James took over the reins from the company’s co-founders, Geoff Manchester and Darrell Wade, in 2012 at the age of 31. He has worked in both the UK and Melbourne offices for more than seven years and recently relocated with his family to Melbourne from his native Brighton.

* Where did you go on holiday in 2012, and why? Any plans for 2013?

“Travel highlights for 2012 were a week sailing along the Dalmatian coast in Croatia on one of Intrepid’s new sailing trips, and my wife and I also enjoyed a very relaxing ‘babymoon’ in Thailand before the arrival of our first son, who was born in September. Intrepid is a global business, so I’m fortunate to travel a great deal for work – I’m based in Melbourne, but I’ve been to the UK, Germany, Canada, USA and Thailand in the last few weeks. My next holiday will be back in the UK for my sister’s wedding, followed by a week’s R&R in Portugal with my family.

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

” My favourite UK hideaway is Pembrokeshire. As a kid, I’d holiday there each year and it keeps drawing me back now. I love the feeling of ‘getting away from it’ that the area gives you. I’m particularly fond of the seaside towns like Tenby and Saundersfoot.”

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

“My favourite city is Rio de Janeiro. It’s a vibrant place with a great mix of iconic sights, beautiful beaches, culture, nightlife and incredible people. It’s a long way from Melbourne though, so it may have to be a very long weekend!”

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

“Noise-cancelling headphones, an iPad and a good book are essentials for all the long-haul flights that I take.”

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

“Talking with local people and experiencing the local culture, for example traveling on local transport, eating local food and staying in locally-run accommodation. Local people will be able to tell you far more than you can find out in a guidebook, and the experience will be far more authentic and memorable than if you stay in a resort which could be anywhere in the world.”

* What has been your worst holiday experience?

“Getting stung by a jelly fish while diving on the Great Barrier Reef wasn’t exactly fun. I had to be airlifted off the reef, straight to Cairns Base Hospital where I spent a rather uncomfortable 24 hours in intensive care while the doctors hoped the anti-venom would work its magic. Fortunately it did – but it’s certainly put me off diving!”

* Tell us your favourite hotel

In the UK: “The Wheatsheaf Inn in Northleach.”

In Europe: “The Campo de Fiori in Rome.”

Rest of the world: “The Palms, Zanzibar.”

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

“Intrepid recently launched a new range of Food Adventures, which offer travellers authentic, affordable food experiences in countries renowned for their cuisine, including Vietnam, Mexico, Spain and India among others. They’re an alternative to high-end, gourmet tours – instead of dining in Michelin-starred restaurants, travellers will be eating local delicacies at street food stalls, meeting artisan producers and learning to cook regional specialties, and there’s also time to explore the destination’s sights.”

* Thanks, James.

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