Last night, the travel industry descended on London’s glitzy West End for The Independent’s inaugural travel awards. Our man, Christian Torres, went along to witness Thomson scoop the gong for ‘Best Beach Travel Company’…
So, there I was representing team Thomson at the first-ever travel awards hosted by The Independent. Thank goodness I’d polished my shoes as the assembled travel gurus looked extremely glam, showing out in cocktail dresses and dapper suits. Just as well really because the venue, the Massimo Restaurant at London’s glittering Corinthia Hotel, was seriously swanky.
I knew it was going to be a good night the moment I walked in through the door. As a glass of fizz was thrust into my hand (don’t mind if I do), I clapped eyes on two of my journalistic heroes – the formidable Fleet Street icon that is Janet Street-Porter and the travel columnist supremo that is Simon Calder. More about him in a bit…
Along with Champagne and celebs, the canapés also hit the mark. I was treated to a mouthwatering melange of bite-size nibbles that included lobster-topped toast sprinkled with sesame seeds and chicken tikka morsels served on mini poppadoms.
Big vs Small
Okay, so let’s get down to the nitty-gritty – who were the big winners of the night? Well, some of them were small, actually. In their bid to find the creme de la creme of travel, The Independent had searched out a real mix of companies, pitting small start-up brands against established travel giants. For example, in the quest to be named ‘Best Train Operator’, home-grown Chiltern Railways beat off stiff competition from the likes of the the Venice Simplon-Orient Express and Eurostar. Oh, and I should mention that the judging panel was made up of travel greats including Ben Fogle and Lisa Markwell, editor of The Independent on Sunday.
And the winner is…
Obviously, when it came to revealing who had bagged the ‘Best Beach Travel Company’ award, it’s fair to say I broke out into a cold sweat. This was the one Thomson was up for. Squinting through half-closed eyes, I looked up at the huge screen hovering over the podium to see ‘Thomson’ flash up in 2-foot font. Well, to say I was chuffed is putting it mildly – I did a fist pump in the air and let out a rather loud ‘yessss!’.
Taking to the stage, I got to meet my travel writing idol, Simon Calder, who presented me with the award. Suffice to say I was rather awe-struck, not least because he whispered in my ear, and I’m paraphrasing a bit but, “well done for making so many people happy on holiday”. Let’s just say, I walked away sporting a smile as wide as the Thomson logo.
So, was it worth polishing up my shoes? You betcha! In fact, I was able to put my polishing technique to good use – I’m now buffing up the award that’s taking pride of place on my desk here at Thomson Towers.
I know it’s a bit show-offy but… A big shout out to the guys at our sister company, Crystal, who were highly commended in the ski category.