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Best Family Tour Operator 2011: Powder Byrne

Family travel tips from Simon Meeke of Powder Byrne, winners of our Best Family Tour Operator in the Junior Design Awards


Posted: 18 May 2011
by Catherine O'Dolan


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What’s your recipe for the perfect family holiday? Ease of travel and access; a location that has appeal for each member of the family and services on hand that provide support for parents. When everyone has space to relax and do the things they enjoy – that has to be the perfect recipe.

What’s your favourite childhood holiday memory? Coming from a family who love food, our family holidays were about experiencing new and wondrous dishes. I remember my first sardines, deliciously fresh and fat, straight from the grill, whilst sitting at the pretty restaurant on the plage des Salins, a stone’s throw from St Tropez – I’d like to be there right now!

What is your company philosophy? “Nothing is too much trouble” is our company motto. We have built our reputation on our quality, flexibility and service delivered by passionate staff who care about your holiday just as much as you do. It’s our people who make all the difference and we select and train them carefully and give them the support they need to shine in their roles so they can add real value to your holiday.

Pick the perfect holiday for the following:

Family with baby A week skiing in Zermatt between February half term and Easter makes for quieter slopes, with complimentary ski guides, and long sunny lunches. We offer a choice of excellent hotels and our private pb creche is open six days a week, so you can enjoy your skiing while your little ones are having a great time. Dine out at the legendary Zum See and Chez Vrony to enjoy the stunning Matterhorn view on a sunny afternoon!

Family beach holiday The quintessentially laid back Italian vibe is a huge draw at the Hotel Hermitage on the beautiful Tuscan island of Elba and has a strong following with our clients. It’s the kind of quirky yet luxurious hotel that Powder Byrne specialise in, with a lovely private sandy beach and fantastic facilities for kids of all ages. The hotel facilities allow us to run a number of excellent children’s programmes, including the exclusive Graeme le Saux football Academy at May half term. Not to mention the water sports, PADI dive centre and sailing courses, it’s the kind of place where everyone can find their own space and enjoy themselves at their own pace. The kids love the pizza making sessions with the chefs and early morning wakeboarding trips and the island has some beautiful beaches and coves to explore if you are looking for a little more adventure too. 

Family adventure holiday The resort of Flims in Switzerland is a popular winter resort, but few realise quite how amazing it is for families in the summer. It’s a playground for active families, offering a huge range of adventure sports from mountain biking, rock climbing, high ropes courses, lake swimming, river rafting – the list is endless. Our guides host adventures on the mountains, whilst our childcare teams oversee activities and picnics around beautiful lakes meadows. Parents love the modern spa at the Waldhaus Mountain Resort, our flagship property, where you can lie back in the outdoor pool looking up at the snow-capped Vorab glacier towering above. I love following the high altitude via ferrata route called ‘Pinut’ carved into the rock face by the herdsmen as a shortcut for reaching their cattle in the highest summer pastures. This is an Alpine adventure with a difference and a number of our clients combine it with another week on the French or Italian Rivieras for the best of both worlds.

Can you share three tips for travelling with children? Patience, flexibility and a sense of humour at all times!

What’s the secret of a successful family holiday? There is no secret, as it’s as much a function of finding what works best for your family, as everyone is different. The most important thing is to give consideration to the needs and expectations of everybody travelling and find a solution that addresses those needs so everyone feels rewarded. Many of our clients work extremely hard, so they want to get a balance of time with the kids, but also precious time apart so everyone gets some space to enjoy their own interests and recharge. Whether that is space for relaxation, enjoying sports or culture or exploring interesting locations and discovering wonderful local cuisine, our programmes allow for this flexibility as we provide dedicated teams who focus on the needs of parents and those of the children, so everyone gets the attention they need, when they need it. We operate our own children’s programmes and have full control over the quality and focus of the sports and activities we offer, and as we value the feedback from our clients they help shape the opportunities and products available. After all, they know their kids better than anyone! Ultimately, this allows for a bespoke approach for each family where we provide the confidence and support to make it all happen, effortlessly.

Three things you should always pack for a family holiday? If you are skiing, I’d say extra gloves as no matter how hard you try they always seem to go missing! We always have a pack of cards on hand for boring airport delays, and we love letting the kids loose with their own cameras – makes for far more amusing holiday snaps for Granny and Grandpa! 

The perfect family holiday song? For me personally, anything by the Beach Boys for a summer holiday as they encapsulate a fun yet relaxing vibe that the whole family connects with.

Perfect holiday reading material for parents? Everyone’s different, but I enjoy the rare treat of reading a book from cover to cover on holiday and to be honest, as that is a luxury in itself, I don’t mind whether it’s a good novel or the latest biography!

Perfect holiday reading for material children? We love the unique collection of beautifully illustrated This Is series by the artist Miroslav Sasek.

Worst holiday nightmare? Many things can go wrong on family holidays as you are reliant on so many elements that are outside of your control. Transport disruption, strikes, volcanoes(!), illness, hotel issues and lost luggage are just some of the nasties that can blight even the best planned holiday, and if you are independent travellers then you have very little support to fall back on when frantically searching for solutions. Travelling with a reputable bonded Tour Operator provides you with an immediate safety net, and we provide you with all the support you need when the unthinkable happens, both through our on-site resort teams, as well as back up from our London office. In times of trouble the benefits and reassurance of travelling with a trusted Tour Operator such as Powder Byrne becomes immediately obvious. We like to say that we ensure the only surprises you’ll get on holiday are good ones.


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Best Family Hotel 2011



Junior Design Awards, travel awards, family travel, Powder Byrne, Zeemat, family skiing, switzerland, Hotel Hermitage, Italy, Elba, Flims
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