About Us – Luxury Independent Travel Agents in Surrey

Our Story
It is amazing to think how the world of travel has changed even in the space of the last 30 years.

When we opened the doors of our Kingswood travel shop in 1984, the travel industry was beginning to diversify from the mass package holidays phenomenon of the 1970’s and exciting new destinations were beginning to tempt the more discerning traveller. Our aim was to be the leading Luxury Independent Travel Agent in Surrey.
Hot destinations in the mid 1980’s included Turkey, North Africa, India and, probably in homage to a certain “Crocodile Dundee”, our cousins Down Under started receiving us in ever increasing numbers! It was also the time that eyes began to turn to the booming Far East. Japan’s economy was in overdrive and the envy of the western world, whilst the ancient kingdom of Thailand was beginning to attract intrepid travellers in search of exotic culture, divine cuisine and idyllic beaches, especially on the sleepy island of Phuket.

Meanwhile, an old mode of travel was beginning to flex its muscles with renewed vigour. Perhaps the increasing sophistication of our eating habits partly explains the lure of luxury cruising. Indeed, the formula has proved extremely successful over the last 30 years, with the number of cruise liners growing at an exponential rate. Carnival Corporation, which now accounts for nearly 50% of all cruise ships afloat with a combined fleet of 96 vessels, was founded in the early 1970’s and in 1984 operated just 4 ships!
The changing political map of the world has contributed to our interest in exciting new destinations. Gorbachev’s perestroika of the mid-1980’s culminated in the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. By the mid 1990’s Eastern Europe was open for business. Grand cities like Prague and Budapest became the new “must see” short breaks, whilst further afield post-Tiananmen China was again attracting visitors; Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia were opening their doors; and South Africa was no longer the world’s pariah.

Perhaps the most significant development and growth area of the last 30 years has been the explosion of luxury “destination” resorts. Extravagant hotels have turned up in increasingly far-flung destinations like the Seychelles, Mauritius, Bali and the Maldives. In some cases, a great resort seemed reason enough to travel to the middle of nowhere. Design and aesthetics were increasingly paramount as a sudden new wave of “boutique” hotels grew more sophisticated. By the beginning of the 2000’s, design hotels were all the rage pandering to all types of clientele and moods.

Today we are only too aware of the distinction between “child-friendly” and “intimate retreat”. The objective of the ideal “destination” resort is to please everyone and to offer all forms of relaxation and diversion! Indulgence has been complemented by a need for exercise ever since Jane Fonda released her first exercise video back in 1982 and today no self-respecting luxury resort or cruise ship is complete without comprehensive spa facilities.

At Symphony World Travel we have been fortunate to assist in arranging tailor-made holidays and advising our customers on an ever-increasing range of holiday types over the last 30 years and are known as the leading luxury travel agents in Surrey. Our own knowledge and first-hand experiences have been nurtured by the ongoing support of our preferred tour operators and hoteliers, enabling us to offer very much more than just a shop-front. It’s a big world out there with a lot to choose from and our job has always been to match the right travel experience to the individual needs of each of our customers.

We look forward to new innovations in travel and await what the future holds with a sense of excitement. It has become one of the new definitions of the word “luxury” to associate it with the customers’ wish to experience a destination that is unique, unexploited, and most probably only available to a privileged few. Already, as seen in Southern and East Africa, small luxury safari camps entertain intimate groups in lavish but remote locations. Spectacular fully catered luxury chalets offer the ultimate indulgence for discerning skiers. Small cruise ships explore remote destinations like the polar regions and the wilder islands of the Pacific. The travel world of tomorrow beckons and even outer space is on the cards…

Anthony & Sim

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