Kuoni is set to swap the Indian Ocean for the English Channel this summer with the launch of its inaugural UK and Ireland collection.
The luxury long-haul operator has teamed up with UK and Ireland specialist McKinlay Kidd for its first foray into the domestic market.
With long-haul holidays and European breaks this summer likely to be impacted by a combination of Covid-19 travel restrictions and lower demand, Kuoni has become the first major UK travel firm to announce a domestic programme.
The new collection, which went live on the Kuoni website on Friday (29 May), features a range of tailor-made holiday options throughout England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland, as well as the UK’s islands.
"Swapping island hopping in the Indian Ocean for UK islands and coastal escapes is something the company believes will appeal to anyone who may be disappointed they won’t be able to enjoy their much-needed overseas holiday this year as uncertainty around travel plans continues," said Kuoni.
The operator has leaned on McKinlay Kidd’s "local knowledge and expertise" to design a number of "premium road trips" taking in the region’s most scenic routes and hidden gems. Accommodation ranges from five-star luxury hotels to family-run retreats, while itineraries can be tailored with experiences like whisky tasting and whale watching.
Trips include Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast; Scotland’s islands, including Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides; Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way; Wales’s Gower Peninsula; the Isles of Scilly; road trips in Devon and Cornwall; rural Northumberland; and a five-star Aston Martin 007 weekend in Scotland discovering locations from past James Bond films.
The collection is on sale now featuring 2020 and 2021 departures, ready for when the UK and Ireland’s lockdown measures are lifted.
“We’re famed for planning special trips to beautiful places around the world, but we think there are many equally stunning places to discover closer to home as well," said Derek Jones, chief executive of Kuoni parent Der Touristik UK.
"The coronavirus crisis has played havoc with people’s travel plans so we wanted to create a collection of quality, premium trips throughout the UK and Ireland which blend local culture, adventure and exploration with luxury style.
“This is about working with like-minded specialists with similar values, and introducing more reasons for people to trust us with their special travel plans so we can broaden the scope of what we can offer.”
Kuoni’s partnership with McKinlay Kidd is the operator’s latest collaboration with a specialist travel firm. It has previously worked with Ski Independence, Plain Sailing, Neilson, and Wellbeing Escapes.
Heather McKinlay, co-founder of McKinlay Kidd added: “Our expertise for creating stunning holidays is a great match with Kuoni, and we’re looking forward to working with them so more people are able to discover the beauty of their home country and close neighbours later this summer and beyond.
“Lots of people know Kuoni for their beautiful beach escapes and we want to surprise people about what’s on their doorstop. On a sunny day, a beach in the Outer Hebrides can do a fantastic impression of the Caribbean, with white sand and turquoise waters. Some of the beaches are so vast, you will barely see another soul – you could say social distancing is the norm.
“Conservation and wildlife is another reason lots of Kuoni customers travel to places like Africa, India and Borneo. Around our own countries, wildlife abounds in rural and coastal areas – eagles, otters, seals, badgers, pine martens and more. You can even go whale-watching off the west of Ireland and from the Isle of Mull in Scotland.”