The catalyst for George’s sense of wanderlust was undoubtedly a commission in the British Army (Coldstream Guards) where his numerous adventures included an emergency tour to the Falkland Islands, patrolling the Sino-Hong Kong land border, secondment to the Australian Army and leading an expedition across the Moroccan Sahara. Despite gaining a Fast-Stream pass in the Civil Service Selection Board (Foreign Office) exam, it was travel that was to be his passion for the next 30 years. Milestone adventures include being the first westerner to travel through Central Asia by private train in 1990, and accompanying HRH The Prince of Wales in Turkey, the Himalayas, and on safari in Tanzania. He founded Red Savannah in 2011 and was delighted to see it win the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2020 and the Conde Nast Traveller ‘World’s Best Tour Operator’ Award in 2021. He founded the ‘Quash Quarantine’ campaign in May 2020 and is regular media commentator on travel matters across radio, television and national media, as well as numerous industry and luxury panels from Forbes 400 to CBRE Luxury Properties. He is a keen skier, diver, photographer and pilot.
Ed is something of a polyglot thanks to his schoolboy days in Toulouse and Paris and to his university studies in Oxford, Lisbon and Dijon. His cultural curiosity and a set of itchy feet have taken him on some epic walks, pioneering routes across the Lewisian gneiss of Wester Ross, the lava fields of the Azores and the wilds of Spain’s Maestrazgo. He started his career in travel making gourmet picnics from the back of a van and hefting luggage in and out of bedrooms, deriving pleasure from others’ pleasure at his efforts. Motivation that has driven him ever since and which acts as a professional keystone. Decades later, with many more miles on the clock and pins in the map, Ed is one of the most expert travel designers in the UK, equally at home recommending the best onsen in Kyoto, the most fascinating road to Mandalay or the or the finest desert camp in the Empty Quarter. A love of the sea led to a voyage aboard a Polish square-rigger to Tallinn, to sailing the trade winds to Porto Santo and to developing Red Savannah’s portfolio of beautiful gulets and yachts. Ed is a director of Red Savannah and Chief Operating Officer.
Sarah-Leigh fell happily into the travel industry while working in the South of France during a university holiday. What started as a temporary summer job led to a Masters degree in Tourism Management, majoring in Marketing, and 28-year career working with some of the industry’s most respected names. She joined Red Savannah as one of the founding team members and has supported the business’s growth from start-up to international award-winning travel company. Never one to be afraid of a challenge, she has been a pioneer of social media, has slept under the stars in the Sahara, riddled targets (spectacularly inaccurately) with an AK47 in Vietnam, and ridden the length of Monument Valley. Her most precious travel experiences have included flying over Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, watching the sun rise over the Annapurnas and meeting a survivor of Phnom Penh’s Tuol Sleng. When she’s not looking after Red Savannah’s marketing activities, she enjoys art history, reading biographies, cooking Asian food for friends and making scented candles.
Mel’s sense of adventure and passion to see the world has been the driving force for her career in travel over the past 30 years and she is adamant it will continue for more decades to come! Her expertise covers Southeast Asia, North America, Maldives and Dubai which means she’s able to cross sell effectively to ensure clients have the best option for their holiday. Her travels, both professionally and personally, have taken her extensively through all her destinations but she freely admits that she left her heart in Indonesia. It is fitting therefore that she has been recognised as a Top Travel Specialist by Cond Nast Traveler for the last five years for her expertise in this part of the world. Memorable highlights of her career have included snorkelling with manta rays off a private phinisi in Indonesia’s Komodo National Park, watching grizzlies catch salmon from a floating lodge in Canada, riding a Sumbanese stallion along a wild beach on Sumba Island and laughing until it hurt on the back of a vespa during a street food tour of Ho Chi Minh City. Mel loves nothing more than talking to people about travel and plan complex itineraries, so please call her and see for yourself.
Samantha’s love of long-haul travel began with three months in Australia sailing a catamaran around the Whitsunday Islands before embarking on a degree in Russian that led to stints studying in St Petersburg and working in Moscow. Not long after she was to be found galloping with nomads across the Mongolian steppe and trekking in Central Asia. After learning to dive off the coast of Lombok in Indonesia she headed to underwater wonderlands in the Indian Ocean before spending the last 20 years exploring Africa. Her explorations of the continent that finally won her heart began with a visit to Ethiopia to see Lalibela's sunken churches and trek in the Simien Mountains. Since then, she has dived off the coast of Mozambique, caught tiger fish in the Zambezi and learned to fly along Namibia's eerie Skeleton Coast. Other highlights of her Africa explorations include getting up close to lemurs in Madagascar, tracking wild dog in the Serengeti, spotting leopard while walking in Zambia and heli-safaris in northern Kenya. Her best African experiences remain gorilla tracking in Rwanda and Uganda. She is a member of Travel+ Leisure's A-List of the World's Top Travel Advisors, recognised for her expertise in African safaris.
Clare’s passion for all things European stems from early childhood when her and her siblings were packed into the car and driven to remote French villages for weeks on end. The journey was always punctuated with a stop in Geneva en route, to see her Sicilian Uncle and fill up on spaghetti alle vongole. Her love of languages started young when she used to go to the Boulangerie each morning for bread and try to converse with the villagers. Learning phrases such as ‘Ducks crossing’ and ‘Beware of the toads’ were of particular delight. This spurred her on to not only adore French but also take up Spanish at school, and then later at University, Italian. Her university life meant stints living in Bordeaux and then Rome – thankfully above a gelateria. Nowadays she still likes nothing more than hopping in car, stopping where serendipity takes her, or pounding the streets in a city exploring hidden neighbourhoods and wonderous art galleries. Lifelong memories have been made exploring Europe, from concerts in the cloisters in Dubrovnik to wine tasting on the slopes of Etna. Clare can hunt out memorable experiences across Europe, whether your passion is for art, gardens, wildlife, sublime seaside escapes or road trips. Clare has been recognised as a Top Travel Specialist by Conde Nast Traveler for her expertise in Europe.
Childhood camping holidays around Europe sowed the seed for Oonagh’s longstanding passion for travel, cemented by two years living in northern Spain following her degree in Modern Languages. It was studying the history and culture of Latin America at university that really sparked Oonagh’s interest in adventures further afield, however, leading her to make Peru her first port-of-call in an extended expedition through the many diverse nations of South and Central America. Some of the many highlights included learning to samba in Brazil, hiking to the base of jagged granite peaks in Chilean Patagonia and spotting pink river dolphins in the Peruvian Amazon. 12 years working in luxury travel have followed where Oonagh added marine adventures in the Galapagos Islands and Antarctica to her portfolio of adventures on dry land. And while Latin America will always hold a special place in Oonagh’s heart, these days she can be tempted away to other intriguing parts of the world, particularly if there is a new skill to be acquired along the way. Whether that is embarking on yoga teacher training in India or paddle boarding around the Pakleni Islands in Croatia, Oonagh rarely needs an excuse to dust off her passport and jump head first into the next adventure.
A visit to Australia at the tender age of 17 first ignited Rachel's passion for far flung adventures, and travel has dominated her life ever since. Rachel's 33-year career in luxury travel began in the airline industry, selling tickets for Concorde, and she quickly climbed the ladder with some of the world's leading airlines before making the move to tailormade travel. This has allowed Rachel to delve further into some of the regions she is most passionate about, including Bhutan & India, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand, where she got married in a remote wilderness lodge surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Wildlife encounters are one of Rachel's greatest passions and have shaped many of her most memorable adventures from swimming with whale sharks in Australia's Ningaloo reef, seeking out Bengal tigers in northern and Central India and tracking leopard in Sri Lanka. Rachel's expertise in her field has resulted in her being named a Top Travel Specialist by Condé Nast, as well as receiving consistently excellent feedback from returning clients. Outside of work, Rachel has a love of weekends away to rural retreats for isolation and tranquillity, and she has a love of painting although doesn’t profess to be particularly good at it! She also loves reading novels and caring for anything with four legs and fur!
Not many people can claim a call from the French Foreign Secretary when in urgent need of a villa. But then Nick Westwood, Red Savannah's Executive Director, knows his game. A linguist who has lived and studied in France and Italy, Nick's entire career has been devoted to seeking out Europe's most beautiful private homes. Nick has recently been recognised as a Top Travel Specialist for his expertise as a villa rental specialist in France by Condé Nast Traveler 2020.
Michelle’s passion for travel started after a three-month holiday island-hopping around the Dodecanese Islands of Greece. With over 25 years specialising as a European villa rental specialist her expertise covers, France, Greece, Spain and Italy and nothing gives her more pleasure than hand picking the right villa to suit the clients’ needs. From arranging in-house chefs, yacht hire, cheese and wine tours are to name a few that Michelle can arrange to complete the ultimate villa experience. Absolutely key is listening to clients’ requirements and finding the right villa for them as time is precious for many. She has been recognised as a Top Travel Specialist by Condé Nast Traveler in 2021. Her favourite pastime when travelling to France is meandering around the local markets of Provence sampling local cheese and delicacies and visiting wine estates in Tuscany. A country girl at heart nothing gives Michelle more pleasure than walking her black Labrador dog over the Cotswold hills.
Born in Florence, the cradle of Renaissance, from a family of architects, Giulia grew up surrounded by Tuscan culture. She earned her stripes running her family’s vineyard and holiday resort in Chianti. Such a wonderful upbringing didn’t stop her from wanting to embark on a series of adventures around the world, however. During a trip to France she met her match, a Londoner with Japanese roots. With three beautiful children, Giulia now enjoys skiing trips and holidays along the Mediterranean shores. A seasoned team member at Red Savannah, Giulia knows our Italian villa portfolio inside out and is perfectly placed to advise on the perfect retreat.
Amy's insatiable passion for exploring the world and uncovering gems from every corner of the earth has driven her love of travel to new heights. She has spent years living and working overseas, uncovering fascinating places and people with stories to tell, and translating them into memorable journeys for her clients. As the Red Savannah Italian villa rental specialist, she has travelled the country from top to toe, exploring grand lakeside villas of Como, beautiful farmhouses of Tuscany and Umbria, and spectacular villas perched along the pastel-hued Amalfi Coast. Creating a memorable experience for people by sourcing the perfect villa and peppering the trip with private wine tasting in the countries most renowned vineyards, sampling the local delicacies while enjoying the quintessential Italian scenery or organising private access to Italy’s most special treasures is what she does best. Through her travels in the past some of her greatest pleasures have been learning the art of mediation with monks in Bhutan, exploring the riches of Egypt or driving through the verdant Italian countryside, stopping for a gelato or two.
From a young age, Laura has always had a fascination for foreign languages and cultures, whether it was listening to family members speaking Finnish and Welsh, or learning languages at school. This fascination naturally led to a first-class degree in French and Italian, with advanced proficiency in Spanish, and a year abroad in Italy that ignited her passion for travel. Weekend trips to each corner of the country, from Turin to Puglia, Naples and Venice, and everywhere in between, fuelled Laura’s love of all things Italian. You can now find her working in the Villa Operations team, with her main focus on Italy, using her first-hand experiences to compose exciting itineraries for clients. When she’s not busy riding horses through the Cotswold countryside, Laura continues to travel extensively during her free time with Morocco & Sweden next on her list. Top three travel moments? Whale watching in Canada, visiting Pompeii, and foraging in the magical forests of Finland.
Rose’s passion for travel started at a young age and she was never in doubt about the career path she would follow. She studied Tourism Management at university and as part of her degree, completed a six-month internship working in an exclusive ranch hotel in Palm Springs, California, followed by a month travelling around America. She has 17 years’ experience in the travel industry working both as a travel consultant and within operations. Starting her career with a Portuguese specialist and then moving on to European city breaks, she loves sharing her travel knowledge. Hiking through the rainforest of Khao Sok National Park, Thailand, watching the sunrise over the Alhambra Palace, Granada and whale watching in Santa Barbara, California are just a few of Rose’s unforgettable travel experiences so far. She also loves to write about her travels and enjoys sharing her experiences of travelling with children on her personal blog. Rose works alongside the Villa Specialists to ensure the smooth running of the department and an exceptional client experience from the point of booking through to arrival at their villa.
Samantha makes the pursuit of a healthy body and mind a central part of her daily life but would be the first to admit that this is not something any of us find easy to achieve. As our Zen Guru she has tirelessly investigated the benefits of Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Mayr Cure and more, uncovering the very best health resorts and clinics in Europe, India and Southeast Asia. Whatever health benefit you seek, she is here to guide you.
"Thanks to you also Melissa for being so flexible and for really listening to our feedback. Looks like we have settled with your help on a super itinerary."
"It is lovely to see that Red Savannah still has the personal touch which many companies sadly seem to have lost! "
|£££||Great quality at competitive prices|
|££££||Excellent accommodation at a moderate to higher price level|
|£££££||The very best in class and priced accordingly|