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Interview with Nick Van Gruisen, Managing Director of The Ultimate Travel Company

Nick Van Gruisen’s travel career started as a professional guide running camps and leading safaris in Botswana and South Africa. He then joined Lindblad Safaris, pioneers at the time of private plane safaris through Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. In the 1980s he set up the UK office of the Tiger Mountain Group on the main board of directors. The group owned and ran wildlife lodges and trekking companies throughout India and Nepal, including well-known Tiger Tops Lodge in Nepal. He left Tiger Mountain in 1991 to start Wildlife Journeys and Expeditions, a specialist worldwide tour operator that became The Ultimate Travel Company, where he is today. Nick Van Gruisen What is it that you do exactly?
As Managing Director of approximately 50 staff, over 30 of who are sales consultants, much of my time is spent overseeing client relationships, ensuring high levels of service and professionalism. I am also very involved in the marketing and managing the profile of the company, as well as day-to-day finance and quality control of the product.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
The variety of elements and the highly entrepreneurial nature of the job.
What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?
Alila Villas Uluwatu in Bali for the spaciousness of accommodation, extraordinary contemporary design combined with a stunning location, along with the immaculate service made it a true favourite of all the family. Mombo Lodge on Chief’s Island in Botswana. The wildlife viewing here is hard to beat plus the combination of comfort, remote location and plentiful wildlife especially leopards. It certainly ticks all the boxes. Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro is a stunning hotel with 1930s glamour and style and ocean view rooms overlooking one of the world’s most iconic beaches, all making it one of my favourite hotels for romantic breaks. Second to none.
What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?
I would have to say a dinner we had on one of the uninhabited Komodo Islands organised by the crew of the Silolona, one of the most beautiful and traditional vessels that sails the Indonesian seas. We dined on the beach, surrounded by beautiful and detailed sand sculptures of turtles and dolphins and lit up by hundreds of candles, with the crew serenading us with their guitars.
Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?
Luckily many, but sadly professional discretion would not allow me to disclose.
What currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?
Having been fortunate enough to have travelled much of the world, I am actually keen to explore a bit closer to home and have a hankering for the Western Isles of Scotland, but am waiting for a break in the weather!
Thank you for taking part in our interview, Nick. You may not be aware but I had the pleasure of meeting one of your colleagues, David Wickers, in Cape Town just last week. Hopefully we can meet in person one day also… If you would like to be interviewed on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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