1. What is ATOL bonding?
ATOL - which is short for Air Travel Organisers' Licensing - exists to protect the public from losing money or being stranded abroad because of the failure of air travel firms. In the highly unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking. ATOL was first introduced in 1972 and it gives comprehensive consumer protection to 28 million people in the UK who buy flights or air holidays each year. The air hoildays and flights in this brochure are ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is ATOL 5922.
2. What is Original Travel's stance on sustainable tourism?
As you'd expect from a company that came about because of its founders' love of exploring the world, experiencing different cultures, and admiring foreign landscapes, Original Travel feels strongly that tourism can and should benefit countries and peoples.
In addition, with a range of destinations as wide as ours - from ski slopes to sand dunes, from Madeira to Mozambique, France to Franschhoek and Lamu to Lima - comes a wide range of conservation and community-related challenges, many of which are being addressed locally, for example: in Morocco, the Kasbah du Toubkal in the High Atlas mountains was restored in conjunction with the Berber people of the nearby Imlil valley, using local labour and traditional methods, and is now run by staff from the Ait Mizane tribe in the surrounding villages. In the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador, Huaorani EcoLodge offers visitors the chance to see the tribe living harmoniously in the rainforest, and the management of this venture will be handed over to the Huaorani people themselves once they are ready to take on all aspects of the conservation and tourism programmes.
We have given every hotel, lodge and camp we offer an 'eco-rating' so you can make an informed decision on where to stay in a particular region. In the destinations we feature, we prefer small, locally-run operators and properties where possible, and our trip dossiers are full of recommendations based on our favourite local restaurants, shops and activities. Closer to home, we cycle (we are part of the government's excellent Cycle to Work scheme) or walk to our Battersea offices, recycle our paper once there, and use Fair Trade products in our kitchen and bathrooms.
Finally, there are four charities we feel specifically strongly about, and we donate on a per booking basis (depending on where our clients are travelling) to the following charities:
For clients who go to Africa we donate to Tusk:
Tusk was established in response to an urgent need to halt the decline in Africa's natural heritage and find a way to combine the interests of people and wildlife alike. Tusk has just under 50 charitable projects in 19 African countries, many of which can be visited by our clients. A full list of Tusk projects is available at this link Tusk Projects. Please just ask and we will do our best to arrange a visit. Since its formation in 1990 Tusk has raised over £12 million for a wide range of projects across Africa.
For clients who go to Latin America we donate to the LATA Foundation:
The LATA Foundation is a UK-based charity dedicated to promoting sustainable development in Latin America and responsible business practices in the tourism industry. It was originally conceived and set up by members of LATA and is overseen by an independent board of Trustees. If you are travelling to Latin America and you would like to visit one of LATA Foundation's projects this can easily be arranged, please just ask us.
For clients who go to Asia we support Elephant Family:
You may have seen the beautifully coloured elephant parade arranged by Elephant Family in London in Summer 2010. Elephant Family's vision is a world in which the Asian elephant is no longer an endangered species. Since its launch in 2002, Elephant Family has invested £3 million in securing and restoring vital corridors of land. They have supported local communities to reduce incidents of human-elephant conflict and improve the welfare of captive elephants. And they have worked hard to highlight the plight of the Asian elephant back home too, with UK-wide education programmes and publicity.
For those travelling anywhere else we would ask you to consider supporting Stuff Your Rucksack:
Stuff Your Rucksack is a simple and clever idea giving adventurous travellers an opportunity to make a genuinely positive contribution to local communities. How many times have you been travelling and visited a school or community or local charity that you would love to help? The school needs books, or a map or pencils; an orphanage needs children's clothes or toys. All things that, if only you'd known, you could have packed. Stuff Your Rucksack lists over 100 projects worldwide and what they need so next time you head off you can pack things that they need. A list of the projects is available at this link Stuff Your Rucksack Projects.
3. How 'original' are Original Travel?
In the last couple of years we have organised holidays as diverse as a trek to the North Pole, altitude marathon training in the High Atlas, a polar bear safari in the Arctic, a club cricket tour to Sri Lanka, honeymoons into the heart of Uganda, Namibia and Patagonia, and an annual 80-person bobsleighing trip for a leading UK company. We relish a challenge, so if there's something special you would like to organise, let us know and we will do our best to make it happen.
4. Can Original Travel arrange corporate and incentive trips?
We see our Big Short Breaks as ideal corporate and incentive territory. We are constantly putting together corporate trips from simple six people weekends to far more innovative trips for larger groups. Please see the Corporate section of the website for more details and ideas of the sort of trips we have organised to date.
5. What partnership relationships does Original Travel have?
Original Travel work closely with several companies. We helped develop the immaculate best-selling dive hotel book Dive in Style and were instrumental in putting together the destinations listed. Our Original Diving division spun off from this relationship and continues to go from strength to strength. In addition, we are one of the few British Airways preferred tour operators and as such we have access to all the best flight deals, which we then pass on to clients going on our bespoke trips.
6. Will I need a visa, and/or vaccinations for my holiday?
We will inform you of any visa and passport requirements, and will offer advice on vaccinations required. We do however recommend that you seek a qualified opinion from your GP for further inoculation advice. Please also see the MASTA website for helpful advice http://www.masta-travel-health.com/.
7. If I get insurance by booking an Original Travel holiday using my credit card, or already have an annual insurance policy, should I take out Original Travel insurance as well?
Credit card companies' insurance coverage often offers the very lowest cover on the market. Furthermore several of Original Travel's holidays involve activities that you are unlikely to be covered for under your existing policy. We will not sell a holiday to someone who is not sufficiently covered. We can issue policies that provide the very highest level of insurance cover for your holiday and for the activities you will be enjoying.
8. Are Original Travel holidays child-friendly?
We regularly speak to Original mothers and fathers to ensure the whole experience of travelling as a family is made as easy as possible. From our ongoing research, and our own experience as parents, we have created a portfolio of trips we believe are the best for families - be they R&R beach holidays or more experience-led and educational adventures. Even better, we have now teamed up with much loved children's party organisers Sharky & George to bring you the finest family holiday experiences. The partnership aims to improve each and every element of the holiday process, from expert advice at the booking phase to make those dreaded transfers fun, and providing activities and games at airports and in destination. Every child will receive a specifically tailored fun pack of ideas and adventures for them to enjoy on their own, with the family or while bonding with dad. Family Holidays with Sharky & George now guarantee stimulating, fun and educational activities and adventures for the little ones while away, ensuring the holiday is genuinely family-friendly. Visit our brand new site to find out more. Finally, if you're travelling with babies, we also offer 10% off at The Little Concierge, so you can order all your baby essentials including nappies, formula, food etc so it's waiting for you at your hotel or villa on arrival. And even more finally, above and beyond all the other bits of advice for families stands one…. BOOK EARLY!!!
9. Will I be joining a group on my Original Travel holiday?
Almost every single one of Original Travel holidays is tailormade and entirely private. They do not involve you joining groups on set departure dates. This leaves you with the freedom to do as much or as little as you would like, for as long as you want and indeed whenever you would like to do it. There are, however, some occasions - for example on our Expert-Led Journeys - where the benefits from set group departures (cost, logistical ease, inclusion on the tour of an expert guide to the area/subject) enhance the experience.
10. What is Original Travel's policy on holidays that have been booked to countries that have subsequently been put on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's 'watch list'?
Original Travel will either a) refund your holiday in its entirety subject to any cancellation charges as set out in the Terms and Conditions or b) offer you an equivalent holiday to a different destination either refunding or charging you any difference in cost with the original holiday. Original Travel can bear no responsibility for those who insist on going ahead with their travel plans despite the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice, and you will almost certainly risk being uninsured as well. Please see our Terms & Conditions for more information.
11. How does Original Travel manage its foreign currency and will I ever have to pay more through surcharges?
Original Travel manages its foreign currency requirements very closely and follows a prudent hedging strategy designed a) to protect our clients from the horrors of surcharging (more on that later), and b) to protect ourselves from any nasty shocks on currency movement. We are, as far as we know, one of the only tour operators, big and small, to have said (live on the BBC) that we won't surcharge clients post booking. We hear endless stories of clients being approached by other operators for four figure surcharges. Believe it or not, these operators are legally allowed to do this. By protecting the downside we don't have to and can therefore stand by our statement on BBC. As you can imagine we have not made many friends in the industry as a result!
12. How safe is my money?
We provide financial protection for our package holidays where your journey. 1. For flight-based holidays this is through our Air Travel Organiser's Licence number 5922. When you buy an ATOL protected flight or flight inclusive holiday from us you will receive an ATOL Certificate. This lists the flight, accommodation, car hire and/or other services that are financially protected, where you can get information on what this means for you and who to contact if things go wrong. We will provide you with the services listed on the ATOL Certificate (or a suitable alternative). In some cases, where we aren't able to do so for reasons of insolvency, an alternative ATOL holder may provide you with the services you have bought or a suitable alternative (at no extra cost to you). You agree to accept that in those circumstances the alternative ATOL holder will perform those obligations and you agree to pay any money outstanding to be paid by you under your contract to that alternative ATOL holder. However, you also agree that in some cases it will not be possible to appoint an alternative ATOL holder, in which case you will be entitled to make a claim under the ATOL scheme (or your credit card issuer where applicable). 2. When you buy a package holiday that doesn't include a flight, protection is provided by way of a bond to ABTA held by our bankers, Svenska Handelsbanken. For further information please see www.abta.com.
13. Have the acquisitions of Tim Best Travel and Simoon Travel by Original Travel changed anything?
We'd like to think that if at all - for the better. The tie-ups brought together three market-leading companies who take pride in the quality of their experience-led travel portfolios and also their culture of offering exceptional levels of customer-service. The enlarged company is now one of the best tailor-made choices for clients at the luxury end of the market and to a wide range of fascinating destinations. Bringing the teams together has formed a group of consultants with in depth knowledge and unparalleled experience in tailor-made travel world-wide, particularly to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Indian sub-continent.