Ms Duncan-Studart, when did it all start for Abercrombie & Kent in UAE?
Abercrombie & Kent has been established in the world of luxury travel for over 50 years now, but our Abu Dhabi store opened in January 2014 due to our growing client base in the GCC and UAE. Since starting in 1962 out in the African bush with just a Land Rover, some tents and a passion for sharing experiences, A&K has grown to become a global entity. We have made it our business to understand each country we sell and take great pride in maintaining the standards we are famous for.
In 2015 you won a prestigious awards?
Yes, we were absolutely delighted to win ‘Best Luxury Tour Operator/Agent’ at the Ultra Travel Awards, as well as ‘Favourite Tour Operator for Luxury Experiences’ in the Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice awards. We aim to provide our clients with the best possible service both before they travel and on the ground, so winning such prestigious awards confirms that our efforts have been acknowledged.
You have your own handpicked people on the ground worldwide?
Most luxury travel companies rely on third parties or partnerships, who offer the same experiences to help with travel arrangement overseas. We however, have our own handpicked people on the ground in over 52 offices worldwide, and many more in the open air, on our boats and in our camps and lodges. Our feet-on-the-ground approach is unique in the travel industry.
Why is A&K so successful in AD, what’s so unique?
Each experience booked with A&K is bespoke to the client. We are always trying to expand and develop the range of unique experiences that we offer, creating trips that are perfectly tailored to each client. No two A&K trips are the same, because no two travellers are ever the same. We believe nothing is impossible and know it’s the little things that make the difference. Having been in the business so long now, our knowledge is unparalleled and with our global network of offices our support doesn’t just end when you get on the plane – it’s with you every step of the way. That’s the A&K difference.
Enjoying life and taking care of the environment, that’s also part of the DNA of A&K, yes?
Absolutely. So we can continue travelling and exploring all corners of the world, we have to ensure it’s still there for us to visit first. Known as A&K Philanthropy, sustainable tourism has been embedded in A&K since the beginning, but we don’t simply throw money at a global pot. We work directly with local villages, cities and habitats that are in trouble and get involved ourselves. For example, we support Bwindi Community Hospital and Nursing School in Uganda, which provides basic health care for some of the world’s poorest people. Other projects we are involved in include building schools, wildlife conservation, educating communities on health and helping towards water sanitation.
Which new projects can we explore later this year and 2017?
Some big projects that we look forward to every year are with A&K founder and CEO, Geoffrey Kent. His ‘Inspiring Expeditions’ aim for true, authentic adventure by exploring some of the world’s most remote and spectacular destinations. In November 2017, join him on a voyage along the North West coast of New Guinea via the Watubela Archipelago into the heart of the “Coral Triangle”, the Raja Ampat Islands. ‘There be Dragons’ is an Inspiring Expedition on board one of the world’s most stylist yachts, the Saluzi, an extraordinary experience in itself, where you’ll have the opportunity to the explore the jungle and surrounding seas as well as meet some of the local Asmat people, normally cut off to the outside world.
We have also just launched our new Small Group Journeys for 2017 with some new exciting destinations as well as some of the old favourites. Two we are particularly looking forward to are ‘The Ancient Silk Road with Sujata Rama’, which follows the merchant route that once linked China with the Mediterranean supplying the east with rubies, jade, amber, musk and of course silk. The second, is ‘Patagonia: Tierra del Fuego to Torres del Paine’, exploring the ‘wild’ side of Patagonia by foot, sea and horseback.
Bookings through the A&K travel boutique now earn Harrods Reward points, how does it work?
Since 2009 A&K has had a good relationship with Harrods in London. With this, we are a member of the Harrods card rewards program which allows our clients to earn points with every A&K booking. Clients then have the chance to redeem these points when visiting the United Kingdom on any purchase they make in store. This is the first time that the collection of Harrods point has been made available outside the store itself, reflecting the importance and value of Harrods customers in the Middle East.
“Anything is possible” with A&K, can you explain?
We have a small team here in the UAE who are extremely well travelled and experts on private islands, yacht and safaris. They have built a wealth of contacts which is perfect if you are looking for an exclusive buy-out or difficult to source resort. These contacts can also open doors to you that are otherwise inaccessible. No ask is too big, we revel in the challenge and always aspire to meet every clients demand.
What’s your favourite destination in the world?
Having been fortunate enough to travel extensively it is very difficult for me to pick just one destination. Having said that, I will always have a passion for Africa. It is such a varied continent with 54 diverse countries vying for your attention. From the barren deserts of the Kalahari and Sahara to the dark, impenetrable forests of Uganda, and the fertile grasslands of the savannah in between. Whether it’s your first visit or your fiftieth, Africa never fails to get under your skin.
If you had to choose one specific offer from A&K in AD, what would you choose?
Well it’s not too late to book a place on board Le Boreal for an unforgettable journey to Antarctica. Save €2,600 per person on our voyage departing on 17th December 2017.
Visit this seemingly desolate area this December and follow in the footsteps of famous explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton to discover a landscape unlike any other. By day you’ll explore the remarkable biodiversity of the Southern Ocean whilst accompanied by award-winning expert guides. By night, you’ll reflect on the day’s activities whilst relaxing in the comfort of your stateroom cabin with its own balcony and all-inclusive service.