An Exceptional Team
Having sourced some of the most knowledgeable experts in the industry, the team boasts in excess of 50 years’ practice with a number of the UK’s leading and elite operators. We’ve taken the best of our experience and combined it with our own personal values and knowledge to expand upon and better the industry ideal.
Today the team’s expertise encompasses Africa, Australasia, Arabia, South East Asia, Latin America, the Indian Subcontinent and the Indian Ocean. But it doesn’t stop there, should we receive requests for assistance outside these areas our excellent network of suppliers and ‘fixers’ worldwide are on hand, enabling us to provide a complete, worldwide travel service to all of our guests.
Having been raised in Kenya and then completing a year’s thesis on the effects of tourism on its peoples in 2002, Toby then moved to England where he worked with and subsequently helped manage a highly respected specialist tour operator for over seven years. Whilst there he travelled the breadth of the African continent as well as launching the company’s Australian product before setting up Exceptional Travel in 2009.
Toby frequently returns home to Kenya as well as continuously seeking out new and exciting ‘off the beaten track’ experiences with recent travels seeing him journey to Chile, India, Nepal, Tibet and most recently the Norweigan Arctic Circle.
In his spare time Toby is a passionate member of the MCC, a keen fisherman (both fly and sport) and he loves to hike, both at home and abroad.
Toby works alongside a dedicated team who have spent years researching, travelling and working in the countries they specialise in, and who are passionate about ensuring our clients receive an unparalleled service from beginning to end.
Julia spent her gap year working in Kenya for David Allen, one of the country’s top safari guides and son of the late great ‘Bunny’ Allen. She was fortunate enough to travel the country and stay with many of the famous post – colonial era characters including Hilary Hook and George Adamson at his camp in Kora.
It was here that she fell in love with Africa. After several years in the City and 3 children, she was thrilled to have a job that requires her regularly to explore Africa .
Her favourite safari (especially if combined with a beach holiday) would probably be in East Africa as much for the charm of the people, the vast open spaces and the feeling of true wilderness as for the wildlife. Top of her wish list is to get out to Western Tanzania to track chimps in the Mahale Mountains…
Michael’s first experience of Africa was selling personalised Parker pens in South Africa in his gap year nearly 40 years ago, before travelling up through the continent to Kenya. He came to know and love East Africa during time spent in Kenya on training exercises with the British Army, and having been infected with the Africa bug he has returned regularly ever since.
Indeed, Michael and Julia’s honeymoon was spent in the extraordinary environment of Botswana’s Okavango Delta and Makgadikdadi Pans with the legendary Jack Bousfield of Jack’s Camp fame.
Following her graduation in 2002, Susanna first cut her teeth in the travel industry working for a home counties based luxury tour operator where she developed an intimate knowledge of the Indian Ocean and Middle East.
She subsequently went on to launch the firm’s Sri Lanka product before being recruited by one of the country’s leading travel firms in London, spending six years heading up their India and Arabia department.
Susanna joined Exceptional Travel in September 2013 bringing with her this wealth of knowledge and experience and with it comes her unique ability to offer clients a very personal and first-hand knowledge of the properties and destinations that she specialises in.
A keen skier, scuba diver and cook, Susanna enjoys encouraging experiential travel and has a passion for boutique hotels with character and a good cocktail list!
Joining us at the beginning of 2017, Lukey comes with great experience gained from 17 years within luxury travel. Along with extensive first-hand knowledge of Sub-Saharan Africa, having lived and worked in the region, she also brings with her a broad knowledge of Indochina and North India.
After graduation she began her career with five years at an internationally renowned UK Tour Operator where she travelled extensively and headed up their South East Asia team. The lure of Africa then took her to manage luxury safari camps in Kenya and Zambia, before returning home to expand her focus to include Africa. A stint working ‘across the pond’ opened her eyes to the bright lights of New York and gave her an invaluable experience of tailoring world-wide luxury trips for the American market.
Her passion lies in adventurous travel and she loves to design itineraries taking clients off the beaten track, combining authentic experiences with characterful charming accommodation, be it 4WD adventures in the highlands of Ethiopia, visiting remote rural villages in Laos or Burma, or remote walking safaris in the wilds of Zambia. Rest-assured she knows her luxury too and there’s hardly a plunge pool she is not familiar with!
Her love of adventure and outdoors extends to her free time, and she is never happier than when hiking, riding horses, skiing or on the tennis court.
First bitten by the ‘Africa Bug’ on safari at 15, Alex was so captivated by the continent, she returned to Kenya in her gap year working in a local school before travelling overland from Nairobi to Cape Town.
In 2001 Alex joined one of the UK’s leading tour operators where she quickly became one of the company’s foremost safari specialists. After a sabbatical, working at Phinda Reserve in South Africa, she returned to her role in London, before settling in Jersey where she co-founded a successful niche safari operator. In 2017 she took the opportunity to sell her share in the firm and to our delight she decided to continue her journey by joining Exceptional Travel.
Alex’s enthusiasm for getting off the beaten track to recharge, reset and escape the 21st century is complemented by the care and attention she dedicates to every holiday she crafts, with unrivalled first-hand experience, her keen eye for detail considering every possible need for her guests.
Never far from the sea, Alex spends as much time as possible on the beach or in the water, walking her Jack Russell and Labrador, paddle boarding, surfing and sailing. In 2017 she celebrated a milestone birthday by climbing Kilimanjaro and she is never far from an airport, whisking her family off for new adventures across the globe.
Katrina has been organising tailor-made holidays to Latin America for the past 13 years, initially by joining and running the Latin America desk for a specialist travel company and more recently managing the Latin America team for an award winning London based Tour Operator.
Having lived and travelled in South America, Katrina’s extensive knowledge covers a huge range of destinations and as a result she takes enormous pride in offering sound advice and suggestions for her guests, helping them choose the destination and holiday that would suit them best.
With experience in organising holidays for couples, honeymooners, families, single travellers, groups of friends and those that have wanted to experience all that Latin America has to offer, Katrina offers an exceptionally tailored, personal and professional service to access a part of the world she is unapologetically passionate about.
Louise joined us in March 2019, having returned last year from living in Sri Lanka with her fiance, as General Managers of three luxury villas just outside Weligama. She did her best to explore as much of the island as possible while over there, as well as other parts of South East Asia, and is now very happy to be back in sunny England!
Prior to her adventure abroad, Louise spent ten years working for some of London’s top PR agencies, representing both luxury properties and tourist boards around the world. She has looked after the PR for luxury hotel clients across Africa, Europe, Asia and in the Caribbean, and for tourist boards in a wide range of destinations.
A keen rider, skier, musician, runner and cook Louise keeps very busy in her spare time, and loves the opportunity combine any of these activities with her travels. She joins Exceptional Travel bringing with her a wealth of knowledge and experience and is looking forward to getting stuck in with the rest of the Exceptional team.