Travel Unravelled With: Gillian Stewart

Kicking off our brand new “Travel Unravelled” blog series is Holidaysplease Travel Expert, Gillian Stewart! As well as great stories and tremendous insights, she has also thrown in a fantastic deal to Cape Town – if this sounds good to you, read on…

BioI have been with Holidaysplease for one year now and worked in travel for 17 years. After graduating in Accountancy and gaining my Masters in IT, I decided the family travel business was far more interesting than either!  I have been fortunate enough to have personal experience of travelling to most longhaul destinations and cruising on the world’s finest cruise ships.

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Questions:

Best ever holiday and whyChristmas and New Year in South Africa with my family.  For me, South Africa has everything – beautiful beaches, scenery, wildlife, luxury hotels and the best food and wine! Great value also!

Top travel tip: Pack MUCH less than you think you need!

Dream holiday and why: The Arctic – the last true uninhabited wilderness. What would be more spectacular than seeing a Polar Bear in their natural habitat?

Something you don’t get on the plane without: Socks and an extra jumper – I always freeze!

Best experience of customer service on holiday: In 1994 with my parents and sister, I was travelling by rail to Southampton to meet the QE2, our train was halted before Carlisle due to vandalism on the line and it was doubtful that we were going to make the ship on time. British Rail rescued the situation in style, we were taxied from Preston to Blackpool airport and they chartered a small aircraft and flew us to Southampton. True story! That was 22 years ago, would it happen now?

Worst experience of customer service on holiday: I have experienced various degrees of service but nothing that has caused distress or harm.

Most embarrassing moment on holiday: Whilst my father was on a work trip to China he had to share a room with a colleague, he left on the last morning whilst the other person was still sleeping. He packed in the dark and when my mother opened his case on return she didn’t recognise any of his clothes!

Favourite world cuisine: Thai or Italian

Funniest moment on holiday: After arriving in Australia rather jet lagged, my sister woke up during the night to go out for a breath of fresh air on to the balcony and got herself caught up in the curtains! This woke me up and I screamed the place down thinking it was an intruder!

Worst holiday and why: Girls holiday in Majorca many years ago – we opted for a ‘square deal’ which meant you could be sent anywhere on the island. We ended up in a resort called Sa Coma (very quiet and full of families). At that time in my life it was the worst possible thing that could have happened! We jumped on a bus to Magaluf and rented an apartment.

Strangest request from a customer: Cat Island, Japan…cats outnumber humans by 6 to 1. Request was from a catlover!!

Most expensive holiday booked or holiday you were most jealous of that you booked: Wedding party to Mauritius at Le Tousserok – Business class flights, 30 guests.

How could travel improve? Airport Security – the authorities have de-humanised it.  Surely in this day of cutting edge technology the process can be streamlined.

What’s the most over-the-top customer service you have heard of in travel? Kids were playing hockey in the hall at a Ritz-Carlton hotel, when they received a complaint from another guest. One of the Ritz-Carlton’s employees politely informed the kids’ parents that they couldn’t play hockey in the hallway.  In order to keep everyone happy, they set up a floor hockey rink in one of the empty banquet rooms!

And finally, the thing you love most about travel: Experiencing different cultures and people. Travel definitely broadens the mind.

The plug…

Gill hasn’t only launched our “Travel Unravelled” blog series in style, but she’s also offering an irresistible deal:

4 nights in Cape Town, 3 nights in the Winelands, 3 nights on the Garden Route and Safari Stay – enjoy luxury accomodation and memories to last a lifetime for just £2597pp.

You can book with Gill by calling 0131 600 0127 or by emailing gillian@holidaysplease.com

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