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Meet the Boss: Moray Bowater, Helpful Holidays

Devon cottage

Each week at 101 Holidays we interview one of the people behind the UK’s finest travel companies. This week we turn the spotlight on Moray Bowater, General Manager of Helpful Holidays.

The company was founded in 1982 by Su and Euan Bowater, Moray’s parents, and has earned a reputation for offering high-quality self-catering accommodation in the West Country. Its honest, down-to-earth approach has won it many loyal customers.

Moray joined the company in 1996 after a career in science. He lives with his wife Mandy and their two daughters in a village on the edge of Dartmoor.

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

We are going to Italy, east of Monte Sibillini, in Le Marche. Living in Italy would drive you mad but for a holiday, the country, landscape, the people, the buildings, the food, the beaches … Italy puts sunshine into people’s souls. Our children are old enough now to start to enjoy a taste of La Dolce Vita – in fact all British children should spend a spring, summer or an autumn month in Italy, for their education.

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

London’s hard to beat – for a break. I’m mad about the rural delights of Devon but the buzz of the capital is great. There seem to be endless interesting things to see, places to go, food to eat, shows to watch – I always leave wanting more.

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

I always meant to go back to Istanbul with enough money for a room at the Pera Palace and enough gumption to successfully bargain for a carpet in the Grand Bazaar. I’d like to see Santa Sophia and the Blue Mosque again, drink some chai in the gardens below The Topkapi Palace and have dinner in a restaurant with a view across the Golden Horn.

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

Walking boots, The History of ‘…………’, and a map

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

The travel industry has become good at delivering on its accommodation and location promises but travel delays remain a big bug bear. The reliability of transport should be improved. Delays and cancellations are not inevitable and we should not accept them except in extremes. Being busy should not be an excuse for failure and chaos. Operators should have powerful financial incentives to ensure delays don’t occur.

• What has been your worst holiday experience?

I’ve never really had a bad experience. We always seem to end up somewhere we eventually like and have a good time. Really lucky, I guess.

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

We hardly ever stay in hotels because we almost always do self-catering but, that said, The Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath has a lovely shady garden for a cup of tea on a hot afternoon, The Bellevue in Dubrovnik has the most ravishing views, and he Devi Garh (in India, pictured above right) is exceptional. But I can’t tell you much about the rest of the world – I’ve seen very little. If you’d like to send me to a few nice hotels, I’ll let you know my favourites…

• Thank you, Moray. We’ll let you know!

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