Planning a luxury holiday in 2022? Start by looking in Bolton

Luxury cruises are popular with holidaymakers of all ages

Luxury cruises are popular with holidaymakers of all ages - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The travel industry suffered enormously during the pandemic, as international travel ground to a halt. And even when holidays got off the ground again, the frequent changes to the list of restricted destinations meant holidaymakers couldn't be entirely sure their plans would come to fruition until they could feel the sand between their toes. 

And while many businesses connected to the holiday industry have packed their bags for good, one Bolton-based travel firm is still, well... flying. 

Destinology were able to keep paying their staff throughout the crisis and since August, they have taken on 30 new employees. They have also built a client list studded with celebrity names and some of the most demanding figures in business. 

'We pride ourselves on providing a personal and professional service to everyone, ' says managing director Ryan Johnston. 'A lot of the people we deal with are used to the very best and that's what we aim to give everyone. 

'We have a diverse range of clients - captains of industry, celebrities and footballers from some of the top clubs around Europe. Sometimes someone will call up and say they want to go to Lapland the next day, or see the volcanoes in Iceland at a moment's notice. 

'We aim to give everyone an individual concierge service. Our clients are extremely time poor. We know who is the best and we really look after our customers, booking restaurants, getting dogs into kennels, and arranging eveyrthing for them. One customer was in the Atlantis Hotel in Dubai and phoned us at because she was lost and couldn't find the hotel restaurant, so we guided her there.' 

MD Ryan Johnston is originally from Ramsbottom and has worked for travel firms across the North West

MD Ryan Johnston is originally from Ramsbottom and has worked for travel firms across the North West - Credit: Destinology

The firm was taken over during the pandemic and Ryan, who is originally from Ramsbottom, was brought in to run things. 

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His cv includes spells with travel firms across Lancashire but he adds: 'The difference here is very much a luxury travel company with the most beautiful hotels in the world, as well as cruises and tours. 

'We swapped ownership half way through and that gave us the chance to re-imagine our proposition and focus more on service. We have featured in guides to the best tour operators and we have some really positive press for the way we handled things during the pandemic. 

'Our team have been amazing - they have worked beyond what could have been expected and we have managed to pay them throughout. We have even been able to take on 30 new people since August, so we are way ahead of where we were forecast to be.' 

The firm is now taking booking for 2023 and 2024, having seen huge interest in luxury foreign travel for this summer. Greece is among the most popular desinations this year and Ryan has also seen a surge in bookings for cruises and visits to top hotels in the Middle East. 

'Dubai is probably the number one destination at the moment,' he says. 'Everything there is so new and the service is absolutely excellent. They have invested very heavily in tourism and world class hotels and beautiful restaurants.' 

Dubai is one of the most popular destinations for luxury holidays

Dubai is one of the most popular destinations for luxury holidays - Credit: Burj-al-Arab hotel

The Covid-period has changed a lot of things, but it's not been the only globally-important news item to have had an impact. The travel industry is a heavy contributor to greenhouse gas emissions around the world and the Cop26 conference in November threw the spotlight on the small ways people and businesses everywhere can make a difference. 

'That was inspirational for us and made us look at the way we do things,' Ryan says. 'Since then we have pledged to plant trees to give customers the chance to offset the carbon emissions of their travel. We know the travel industry contributes to the problem, so we are doing our bit to help mitigate that. It's not going to solve anything on its own, but it's a step in the right direction.'