Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New UK Ski Tour Operator Launches

Despite the economic gloom and the demise of several tour operators in recent months, two industry heavyweights feel this is a good time to launch a new ski tour operation in the UK. Former First Choice, Thomson and Crystal Ski MD, Stuart McLeod and fellow TUI Travel colleague Katie Waddington, previously manager of Crystal’s Active division and Chamonix-based GM for TUI UK, have launched Zenith Holidays.
The new web-based venture features catered chalets, hotels and apartments in ski resorts in France and Austria and summer holidays in France, Austria, Jersey and the Czech Republic, with the emphasis on 'service excellence': "Taking the hassle out of travel" says McLeod.
Adept at contracting and creating ski holidays for some of the UK’s biggest winter sports brands the pair have already found their niche as the only UK tour operator in the resorts of Pitztal and Leogang in Austria, Isola 2000, Val d’Allos and St. Jean de Montclar in the French Alps.
Their new web-based ski holiday company is focussing on a "value-based product for the discerning holidaymaker", with pricing per room, not per person, a web-only presence "absorbing cost savings into the holiday price" and finding value through featuring less well known destinations. "There’s more to skiing than the well-worn Three Valleys" adds McLeod "and we’ll be adding more new resorts in at least two more countries over the coming months".
The travel-savvy two are also building added value into their programme with a 'flightwatch' service, texting clients with latest flight information, and by giving first hand knowledge of the resorts, as well as advising on additional in-resort activities and excursions.
Stuart McLeod continues "With a combined experience of over thirty years organising winter sports holidays Katie and I have taken on roles from Holiday Rep to Product Manager, Financial Analyst to Managing Director and we had the privilege of experiencing first hand how holiday companies should and should not be run. We’ve seen the pitfalls, we’ve experienced the hassles of travel and we’re now minimising their impact with a product that’s high on service and value".
A well as a clearly written, plain English overview of each resort and ski area, the Zenith Holidays website has an 'at a glance', 'what we like' and 'what we’d change' section for all destinations, pointing out useful information such as free skiing for kids, shorter transfer times, or a lack of English speaking TV and scarcity of ATMs.
Winter 2009/10 holidays are now on sale on an accommodation/transfer only basis, with separate flight booking. "This season more than ever before skiers will be looking for a ski holiday provider who can offer them the very best value for money and insider knowledge that can only be gleaned from the kind of in-depth tour operating and travel experience that Katie and I have", said Stuart McLeod.