Meet The Team

Katie Smith

Katie Smith

Head of Oxford Private Travel, Witney

Having been bitten by the travel bug from a young age, I am always at my happiest when planning my next trip, or helping someone else tick a new destination off their travel bucket list! 

Destinations I love: New Zealand, Bali and California.

Properties I love: St Regis Bora Bora in French Polynesia, Eagles Nest, Bay of Islands in New Zealand and COMO Shambala Estate in Bali.

Recently visited: Costa Rica, Tanzania, Morocco, Italy, Ibiza, Estonia and French Polynesia.

My tip: Pack light – both your luggage and your itinerary! Take time to carefully plan your trip to make sure you can include your highlights, whilst allowing plenty of time for relaxation and enjoying those local discoveries you weren’t expecting. Learning a few key phrases is always a good idea too - a friendly ‘hello’ goes a long way, whatever the language!

Julia Jossa

Julia Jossa

Head of Oxford Private Travel, London

Travelling has always been a part of my life.  As a child we moved every three to four years due to my father’s job in the Foreign Office, and I was fortunate to live in eight different counties by the time I started university.  As soon as my time came to find a job, the travel industry seemed like the perfect choice and I have not looked back since. 

Destinations I love: Vietnam, Mexico, Brazil, France and Italy.

Properties I love: Castiglion del Bosco in Tuscany, The Greenwich in New York, Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo in Sicily and Punta dos Ganchos in Brazil  - I am also a huge fan of sailing and yachting holidays.

Recently visited: France, Italy, Greece, Morocco, Dubai, New York and Brazil.

My tip:  Try not to over-plan a holiday and leave some time just to sit back and soak up a place. There is nothing I love more than sitting in a café watching the world go by. This is how you really get to know a destination.

Tara Bond

Tara Bond

Pre-Arrival Concierge and Product Executive

Having worked in the private aviation industry previously, travel is something I have always been interested in and as someone who loves to spend the majority of their time on holiday laying down on a beach in the sun, Oxford Private Travel really is my dream job! I now spend my days arranging the personal touches that I feel really make a holiday, whether it be a private dining experience under the stars or a day out on a super yacht, I’m here to help.

Destinations I love: Ibiza and the Maldives

Properties I love: Vakkaru in the Maldives and Can Dos Rocas in Ibiza.

Recently visited: Ibiza, Maldives, Malta, Budapest, Mallorca and Greece.

My tip: Never go to the same place twice, the world is a big place! Always ask your concierge to recommend the best local restaurants in your destination. We have the insider knowledge of where you can find the best local cuisine... After all, food is everything! 

Rebecca Standfield (nee Ward)

Rebecca Standfield (nee Ward)

Travel Manager

I was born in Portugal and lived in Zimbabwe and Dominican Republic during my childhood which kickstarted a desire to travel often and diversely. I love to arrange bespoke luxury travel and events with a focus on ensuring every experience was precisely designed to each client. My priority is always to listen to guest’s individual preferences, and to incorporate these to create a completely tailored and unique trip.

Destinations I love: Galapagos Islands, Argentina, South Africa and Kenya.

Properties I love: La Residence in Franschhoek, Jumby Bay in Antigua, Eolo in Patagonia, Hotel Santa Caterina in Amalfi Coast and Finca Cortesin in Andalucia.

Recently visited: Argentina, Peru, Morocco, Antigua, Norway, Italy, Canary Islands and the USA.

My tip: Getting an experienced guide for your first day in a new city is essential. They provide all the local insight from the area’s history to gastronomic hotspots, as well as helping you to feel orientated before your own explorations on following days.

Mike Kelly

Mike Kelly

Sales Director

I have always had a passion for travel and exploring new places. I have been lucky enough to travel to 50 countries and work on five continents, and I love nothing more than sharing my knowledge and enthusiasm with our clients. Before joining Oxford Private Travel I spent seven years in Africa working in luxury experiential tourism at some of the top properties on the continent, so I know what it takes to deliver a truly world class travel experience!

Destinations I love: Seychelles, Croatia, Vietnam, India and Kenya.

Properties I love: The Brando in French Polynesia, Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa and Palazzo Avino in Amalfi Coast.

Recently visited: Kenya, Seychelles, South Africa, Croatia and Italy

My tip: Travel is all about experiences and memories. Whilst it’s important to take photos, make sure you also spend time soaking up the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of your destination too!

Mark Gibbins

Mark Gibbins

Managing Director

My love of travel was born in the mountains. At the age of 19 I chose to escape my stressful chef’s career in London and move to the Swiss Alps. From here my passion for skiing, the mountains and the travel industry grew; hence I chose to forge a career in this industry. For me travel and food go hand in hand. I’m the one you need to befriend for that elusive restaurant reservation.

Destinations I love: New York City and the Alps.

Properties I love: Park Hyatt in New York, Delano in Miami and W Verbier

Recently visited: Dubai, Miami, New York, Verbier, Courchevel and Orlando.

My tip: Never waste money on bad food. When travelling to a destination speak to the locals and your pre-arrival concierge to find where to make a reservation. Never go for a stroll and hope to get lucky! 

Rupert Longsdon

Rupert Longsdon

Founder and CEO

In fairness I never thought my life would take me to so many wonderful places. Starting The Oxford Ski Company in 1998 was more a love of the mountains and working in the service industry than the skiing aspect. With Oxford Private Travel even more doors have been opened to visit new places. It never ceases to impress me how standards of travel, destinations and experiences across the world continue to evolve and improve.

Destinations I love: The Alps, Greek Islands and Mexico

Properties I love: North Island in Seychelles and Le K2 in Courchevel 1850 (French Alps).

Recently visited:
Seychelles, Bali and Antarctica.

My tip:
Use an experienced Agent (of course). It is a false economy trying to do it alone. "Buy cheap, buy twice".

Sarah Kitching

Sarah Kitching

Head of Sales, Ski Chalets

My passion for skiing and being in the mountains was fueled by having survived three seasons in both the French and Austrian Alps! Now I am here to share my love and knowledge for the sport, properties and mountains with you.

I am a skier.

Favourite resorts: St. Anton, Val d'Isere and Verbier. Although St Anton will always have my heart!

Ski seasons: One in Courchevel 1850 and two in St. Anton.

Favourite properties: Maria Schnee in St Anton, La Tene in Val d'Isere and Edelweiss in Courchevel 1850.

Favourite lunch and après: Rodel Alm in St. Anton for their half chicken with a semmel (Austrian bread roll), Krazy Kangaroo for après and dancing on tables!!

My tip: Get the first lift and head high! In St Anton, head to Hospiz Alm in St Christoph, and use the slide down to the bathrooms!

Karen Cabena

Karen Cabena

Head of Sales, Hotels and North America

With a passion for travel, sport and adventure I have been lucky enough to experience the amazing skiing in Canada and North America. Working here gives me the perfect opportunity to help you experience the same.

I am a skier. 

Favourite resorts: Verbier in Switzerland, Park City in Utah and Jackson Hole in Wyoming USA.

Ski seasons: One in Breckenridge and one in Banff/Lake Louise.

Favourite properties: Hotel Rosa Alpina (San Cassiano), Hotel Le Saint Roch (Courchevel 1850) and Stein Erickson Lodge (Deer Valley).

Favourite lunch and après: Krazy Kangaroos (St Anton) and Ajax Tavern (Aspen) for après. Lunch at Hospiz Alm in St Christoph – try the delicious local fried pancake dessert “Kaiserschmarrn”.   

My tip: When skiing in North America and Canada, take advantage of the mountain hosts for free ski guiding. Fantastic friendly volunteers who provide some great facts and history on the mountains as well as taking you to the best slopes for the conditions that day!

Annie Lambert

Annie Lambert

Senior Pre-Arrival Concierge

The feeling you get when skiing on a clear day, overlooking the snowy white mountains is unbeatable. Combining this with experiencing new resorts and copious amounts of local food and wine is my idea of perfection.

I am a skier.

Favourite resorts: Morzine, Zermatt and Lech.

Favourite properties: Severin*s in Lech, Chalet Les Anges in Zermatt and Chalet Joux Plane in Morzine.

Favourite lunch and après: Le Panoramic in Tignes, with its luxurious alpine décor and sheepskin rugs is the perfect mountain lunch spot. The food and service are excellent, and if you are lucky you might meet Igloo, the resident St Bernard!

My tip: Ski lessons are not just for beginners. They are the perfect opportunity for skiers of all abilities to perfect their techniques and boost confidence on the slopes. Remember to book in advance for the best options and availability.

Joanna Whinney

Joanna Whinney

Marketing Manager

My love of travel started like so many lucky graduates…a backpack, a rough guide and a Round the World ticket. From my early days of solo travel with a thirst to explore the unknown, a summer season working in Positano on the breathtaking Amalfi Coast, tailor-making bespoke holidays for an independent travel company to marketing a fabulous collection of Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Arabian hotels I have always been driven by the shear wonder of the destinations we have in this world.  

Destinations I love: Italy, Saint Lucia and San Francisco.

Properties I love: Jade Mountain, Carlisle Bay and The Fairmont Royal Pavilion.

Recently visited: Barbados, Mexico, Mallorca and Antigua.

My tip: Always pack your swimwear in your hand luggage. If God forbid your luggage didn’t arrive when you do, you can always go for that all important first holiday swim!

Melissa Tideswell

Melissa Tideswell

Finance Manager

Good food and travel are two things which have always been close to my heart. Having lived for two years in France, travelled to many countries and having skied in various resorts across Europe for over 20 years – I feel extremely lucky to be able to help to facilitate others to enjoy similar experiences. 

Favourite resorts: Val Thorens, Courchevel 1850 and Saas Fee.

Favourite properties: Hotel Le Val Thorens in Val Thorens, Hotel Le K2 Altitude in Courchevel and Chalet Annapurna in Saas Fee.

My tip: Make the most of everything the mountains have to offer: Rise for first lift, eat lunch in one of the amazing mountain eateries and don’t forget to stop and take a moment to really appreciate the natural beauty – it really takes my breath away. Finally, relax in the afternoon sun with an après-ski drink and enjoy the delicacies of the local restaurants in the evening.

Cameron Free

Cameron Free

Digital Marketing Manager

I love travelling, whether it is a beautiful paradise in the Maldives or the perfect luxury ski holiday in Val d’Isere. I love to visit new places and do my best to not visit the same city twice. There’s not much better than enjoying your time off with some fantastic activities alongside some fantastic food! Though I’m a young traveller at the moment I am looking forward to ticking of some fantastic locations in the future.

Destinations I love: USA and Italy.

My tip: Always make the most out of your travels and try to visit as much of the world as possible. Open yourself to new adventures, foods and more!

Saskia Ruskin

Saskia Ruskin

Office Manager and Website Administrator

My first skiing experience was in Lech at the end of the season, the weather was stunning and I can honestly report it was one of my favourite holiday trips. I had two full days of group lessons, which was much more fun than learning alone and something I’d opt for again in the future. Learning to ski as an adult is exhilarating but exhausting, you need that motivation from your group! It’s also the best ice-breaker when getting to know people. 

Another great holiday I had was in Rome, where like any other tourist, I visited the Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel. They did not disappoint. I thoroughly recommend taking this cultural city-break. 

Favourite Resorts: Lech, Rome and Menorca.

Favourite Properties: Severin*s, Aurelio Clubhouse and Villa Nocetta.

Favourite lunch and après: Lunch at Aurelio Clubhouse and an après-ski dip in the pool at Severin*s.

Elsa Dennie

Elsa Dennie

Accounts Administrator

I have always loved exploring different countries for the sightseeing, architecture and unique memories they have to offer. I was a complete beginner to skiing but thanks to The Oxford Ski Company managed to feel completely comfortable on the slopes by the end of the second day on my first trip to Lech. There is nothing that beats that first feeling of flying down the mountain in the alpine air.

I am a beginner skier.

Favourite resorts: Lech, St. Anton and New York.

Favourite properties: Hotel Aurelio, Severin*s The Alpine Retreat and The Gasthof Post.

My tip: Wake up early and ski for as long as you can before lunch, especially on bluebird days. Make the most of every second of your holiday and push yourself to the limit (within reason).

Saffron

Saffron

Border Terrier

I hold a pretty important role within the company and that is ensuring the other canines here tow the line; as the bosses dog I feel that this is my duty. Outside of that, I pretty much just sleep. 

I am a dog.

Owner:
Mark Gibbins

Favourite spot:
My bed, obviously. 

Favourite time of day:
Breakfast time and 5 minutes of madness running around in circles. 

Party Trick:
Not sure I have one....unless looking darn cute is a trick!

Bertie

Bertie

Cocker Spaniel

I am always happy, life is so good! I seem to attract a lot of attention too – maybe it’s my extra long lashes? I have been at Oxford Ski since I was 9 weeks old, but they still won’t let me answer that thing that rings all the time. 

I am a dog.

Owner:
Harriet Tetlow

Favourite spot:
Bed, but only if Sergei the meerkat comes with me.

Favourite time of day:
Greeting everyone in the mornings.

Party Trick:
Giving high fives!

About Oxford Private Travel

Oxford Private Travel makes it personal. We’re a small, passionate and well-travelled team who understand the importance of getting to know you. We work with the best teams on the ground globally to provide the most incredible travel experiences, and understand the importance of getting the little, as well as the big, things right.  Furthermore, our contacts enable us to offer many VIP upgrades and perks.

We’re dedicated to creating your dream holiday, and our complimentary pre-arrival concierge is there to support you in ensuring you make the most of your trip.

Wherever and however you’re looking to travel in the world – beach or bush, city or wilderness, active or R&R - give Oxford Private Travel a call.