Interview with Ala Osmond of Exeter International

Ala OsmondAla Osmond is Managing Director of Exeter International,  a recognized leader in upscale luxury travel to Eastern Europe and Russia and one of the few companies listed on both Condé Nast Traveler’s and Travel + Leisure’s list of top travel specialists for Russia travel as well as Eastern Europe.

What is it that  you do exactly?

Luckily I don’t have a typical day. I could be designing an itinerary, speaking to a customer, dealing with a supplier, updating our website or visiting a travel agent. Our business has just entered its second year and the two most vital aspects are exposure and building a reputation. Service delivery and sales will always be our two biggest focus areas.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

Two things – the first may be a cliché, but travelling! Secondly – seeing people change their perceptions about the destinations we specialise in. Especially Russia. It’s wonderful when people come home with a changed world view – hopefully we have played a part in that.

What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?

Water seems to be a theme…

1. A houseboat on lake Dal in Kashmir – magical.
2. A sleeping bag on the shores of Lake Victoria in Entebbe, Uganda – madcap.
3. Hotel Tresanton in St Mawes – luxury!

What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?

A gala fundraising dinner for the Mariinsky Theatre and the Hermitage Museum served in the Jordan Hall of the Hermitage and hosted by Prince Charles. It was during the White Nights period in St Petersburg when the sun does not set. Everything was perfect from the weather, the company, vintage Champagne, beluga and a private performance by the stars of the Mariinsky in the Hermitage Theatre.

Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?

Apart from Royalty? A few Presidents and Prime Ministers  and music industry stars; from GW Bush to Robbie Williams.   All from my hotel days, mostly in St Petersburg, Manchester and Cardiff.

What currently ranks highest on your travel wishlist?

My dream is to have the time to explore South America – starting with Argentina.

Thanks, Ala.

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