'I go on the best holidays': Duncan Bannatyne's luxury travel life
As a long-serving dragon on the hit BBC series Dragons’ Den, Duncan Bannatyne is known as a hard-working, no-nonsense entrepreneur.
But even the busiest man needs a break and Bannatyne clearly sees the benefit of a decent holiday or two – he spends about a million pounds every year.
What’s your favourite holiday destination?
The Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados is my absolute favourite. I’ve been there quite a lot and I’m going back there this year for my fifth wedding anniversary. I also love most of the top lodges in South Africa.
Do you have a favourite airline?
Yes, British Airways every time, if they fly to where I want to go. We only ever fly first class and the service is exceptional.
How much planning goes into your holidays?
Lots – but never by me! My wife does it all. She really loves it. Usually, friends will go somewhere and recommend it and then we might try it.
Do you have a wish-list of places you’d like to go to?
Not anymore! I’ve been everywhere I have ever wanted to go. There are bound to be other amazing places I’d like to go, I just don’t know it yet.
How involved are you in the booking of your holidays?
Not at all. I often don’t even know where/what I’m doing until I get there! My wife makes the decision about where we’re going to go and my PA makes the booking.
Have you ever considered setting up a travel business?
No. The margins in travel just aren’t great enough.
Has anyone ever pitched a travel business to you on Dragons’ Den and if so, did you, or were you tempted to, invest?
We’ve had the odd holiday product and a few websites, but not a comprehensive travel business. That’s never been pitched, but as I said, the margins in travel aren’t very appealing.
Which of your fellow Dragons goes on the most exciting holidays?
Me! Without question I go on the best holidays. This year I’ve already been to South Africa, Barbados, Las Vegas, Canada and Florida. We’re going to Cyprus next week – although I’ve no idea where, and we’re off to Barbados again next month, as I said.
What are the most important criteria for you in a holiday?
Holidays for me are the only time I get to properly spend time with my family and relax, so it’s got to be perfect and I won’t settle for anything less. Quality and service are important – and those extra touches also really make it for me.
For example, when you fly into Barbados with Elegant Resorts, there’s a porter waiting for you as you get off the plane and you get to bypass the customs queue and sail straight through. That’s worth the money.
What would make you become a repeat customer for a particular travel agent or tour operator?
We tend to book direct with Elegant Resorts and I return for the quality and not because of a price or deal. Service and quality is the most important thing that would bring us back time and time again – whether that’s with an agent or direct with an operator.
How much do you spend on holidays in a year?
I will have spent close to £1 million by the end of the year. I like to go away a lot with my family – and I have six children and one granddaughter, so it gets expensive. My granddaughter is two and my kids are eight, 11, 16, 18, 24 and 27.
Finding a holiday where we can all have a good time, across all those ages and generations is a challenge. We’ve been skiing in Canada, to Las Vegas and to Orlando with all the kids this year.
What do you do on holiday?
It’s always active, we never sit still. My 27-year-old daughter skis like a mad thing; I just about make it down the mountain, but everyone loves it. We also took everyone to Vegas and hired two helicopters to take us into the Grand Canyon and saw a whole load of shows along The Strip. Then in Orlando, I hired special guides to take us around Walt Disney World and Universal Studios so we got taken to all the best places and avoided all the queues.
Have you ever had a holiday disaster?
Not for a few years now. We stayed at a hotel that was just terrible and I just walked out and booked into another one. Since then we have tended to stick with the same suppliers, such as Elegant Resorts, although I am going to try Seasons next year now that half the senior team from Elegant Resorts is there. It seems to have been given a new lease of life, and they will have something to prove, so I will gi