Turquoise is one of a&u's favourite travel companies so I was delighted to get a chance to hear how they have been faring in these strange and scary times.
Ever the optimist, the first thing James (founder and MD) says to me is, "It's better than you might think.."
He corrects himself, "It's dreadful," but explains that the really horrible bit - refunding everyone - has been done. Enquiries for next year are massively up and a substantial number are turning into bookings.
He understands that people are nervous about travelling but says that if you are bold enough to book, there are some fantastic deals available.
Long haul, islands to which you can fly direct are likely to be first in. The Maldives, Mauritius, Saint Lucia and Antigua are all COVID-free and ready for visitors as soon as they are allowed off the block. The flight experience will be different - masks will become part of travelling for a while, you will get a sandwich thrown at you rather than the full dining service - and he doesn't imagine that people are going to want to spend hours in transit airports. But once you are there, everything is in place for a safe, relaxing holiday.
We both agree that we cannot quite envisage what the hidden faces and gloved hands will have on the holiday experience but he says he is sure they will make it work.
They have seen a marked increase of interest in villas within hotels, perfect for a secluded multi-gen or two family holiday and he thinks this is bound to increase.
Similarly, remote destinations such as mobile safari camps are going to be popular. City breaks and multi-centre holidays will inevitably be hard-hit.
Closer to home and in the shorter term, he is considering options that are short hops from the UK. Perhaps a trip to the Atlantic Hotel in Jersey via the private airfield down the road? The Scilly Isles? As for James - he is hoping to get to his family appartment in Portugal.
People are going to travel for longer. Maybe a little slower, walk round a little more. Hopefully we will be better travellers.
James sees a renaissance in the role of the good travel operator and, talking to him, it is hard not to think he is right. Our whole conversation is coloured by his desire to 'do the right thing' by his customers, to 'look after' his clients. As someone who is still battling with a national airline to get a refund for flights cancelled in March, I am certainly wishing I had been a Turquoise client.
There are lots of enticements to make you book now. He talks of this 'twilight zone' when value is good. He tells me he was talking to an hotelier from China earlier. The room rate is now 20% up on last year. If rooms have to be left unoccupied to satisfy social distancing, when people start travelling again, prices will have to increase.
Their fully refundable deposit offer is being extended and they have just announced a tie up with Somerset's chicest hotel, the Newt - book a 7 night holiday with Turquoise before the end of June and celebrate with a night for two at the Newt for £150.
Emily Turner, 3 June 2020