The Travel Issue: As You Like It with Scott Dunn

by Portfolio Magazine
17 Apr 2023

Sonia Davies, CEO of Scott Dunn, an award-winning luxury tour operator known for their tailor-made trips, tells us what goes into crafting perfect and personalized adventures for their jet setting clientele.

There are many tour operators in the market that offer bespoke, luxury itineraries. What differentiates Scott Dunn and why should it be top of mind for the modern traveller?
At Scott Dunn, our focus is, first and foremost, on our guests. We pride ourselves on understanding the needs of each guest and then matching that with our “carefully curated collection” of products to design the perfect itinerary so that it’s “unique to you”. We are independent and are not tied to any specific hotel, lodge, or boat so we are not trying to fill something that we own.

Give us an overview of the Scott Dunn client, particularly in Singapore and the region. What kind of experiences are popular in this part of the world and what are the up-and-coming destinations these clients are keeping an eye out for?
Our Singapore team looks after guests based in three core markets: Singapore and SE Asia, Hong Kong, and Australasia. Our guests are well travelled, having travelled extensively throughout their careers, and they tap on our expertise and global network to deliver authentic, immersive, and seamlessly curated holidays that match their definition of luxury. Our guests appreciate the intangible value and magic we bring to each of their trips and come back to us time and time again to help fill their travel diaries with a variety of holidays, from celebratory holidays and multi-generational family getaways to romantic escapes for two and solo journeys to recharge.

In the past couple of months, Europe has continued to be the top destination amongst our guests. We’ve locked in trips to places like Finland and Sweden for a year-end winter escape, while Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal continue to be popular throughout the year. South Africa has quietly emerged as another key destination with guests heading over to combine a safari getaway with an epic tour of the winelands. With its reopening late last year, Japan maintains its popularity and we highly recommend planning for an autumn trip this year to catch sight of the beautiful autumn foliage. There has also been renewed interest in places a little more far flung like Antarctica and parts of Latin America such as Argentina, Chile, and Peru where our guests enjoy the stunning natural landscapes as well as a good mix of wildlife and culinary adventures.

(Related: Secrets of Productivity - Mike Harlow, General Manager, Scott Dunn)

Dubrovnik, Croatia

How does the Scott Dunn team put together the perfect holiday for a client? What kind of work goes into curating the perfect experience?
It starts from the very first conversation – understanding “Why you are looking to travel, What you are wanting to experience, and How you like to travel”. Our dedicated product team is constantly evaluating our experiences and hotels/lodges to ensure we are innovating and delivering the highest quality experience when travelling. What that actually means is different to every individual, hence the importance of our travel consultants taking the time to understand each of our guests to design the perfect trip which is unique to them. We also invest heavily in training so that our consultants spend time experiencing the destination like our guests will.

After the pandemic, people are increasingly searching for new and unique travel experiences. What are some of the travel itineraries you can recommend this year?
Many of our guests are planning to tick things off their travel bucket lists this year. Our team has been crafting itineraries featuring all sorts of unique experiences; from watching the migration of the majestic Black Necked Cranes in Bhutan with the locals, disembarking a zodiac to explore the untouched white wilderness of Antarctica, to riding on a vintage Vespa sidecar through the bustling streets of Marrakech, or enjoying a romantic dinner in an actual Renaissance Palace in Florence.

Lots of our guests are eager to get outdoors and stay active while on holiday. We’ve noticed a rising travel trend for horse-riding journeys around the world, whether it’s riding through the enchanting valleys of Cappadocia on horseback or galloping gaucho-style through the wild terrain of the Argentine Patagonia.

We have also seen an increase in guests who are planning trips to destinations that have formed the backdrop of trending shows and movie films. Croatia has been popular for guests looking to experience the magic of the acclaimed TV series Game Of Thrones, while New Zealand continues to inspire many with its landscapes, which formed the backdrop of the iconic Lord of The Rings movies.

What is on your travel wishlist for 2023 and are there any trips you are looking forward to?
My wish list for 2023 is long and a mix of total relaxation, activity, the familiar, but also the new. I recently returned from a week in Oman which had the perfect blend of mountains and ocean, culture, and food. I am looking forward to heading to South Africa and Canada later in the year – to again have that mixture of active and relaxation, food, wine and wildlife. I like my trips to be full of variety.

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