Karl Watson TOGETHER
Karl Watson

Karl, Inntravel’s down-to-earth general manager (you’ll often see him making tea and answering customer enquiries), is a keen cyclist and has clocked up thousands of miles exploring Europe by bike.

Q: SO, HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY?
KARL: I suppose it all stems back to my epic cycling trip in 1986, when I clocked up 3,000 miles as I pedalled around Western Europe. I’d never travelled before, and it gave me a real buzz. I was fascinated by the history of different places, and I knew then that I wanted to see a lot more of the world. I seriously considered a career in the Foreign Office or the British Council, which would both have enabled me to do that, but in the end I realised that the travel industry was more for me.

Q: THAT’S A LOT OF MILES! WHICH COUNTRIES DID YOU VISIT?
KARL: That first trip took me to Switzerland, West Germany – it was before the Berlin Wall came down – Austria and France.

Q: WE’RE SPOTTING A MOUNTAIN THEME HERE…
KARL: Yes, that’s right! A couple of years later I set out on another cycling trip specifically to see the highest peaks in France, Switzerland and Austria. It didn’t all go to plan, though. By the time I reached St Moritz it was snowing. And cold. I came to a junction where, quite literally, I could turn right to carry on my mountain tour, or left to head into Italy. I chose left. It was warm and sunny on the other side of the border and I ended up cycling around the Italian lakes and then heading on to Venice.

Q: YOU’VE TRAVELLED EXTENSIVELY, THEN, IN EUROPE, AND SOUTH AMERICA, TOO. WHERE’S YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE?
KARL: It has to be Switzerland – the sheer majesty of it all. There’s something very special about the atmosphere of a Swiss valley on a sunny summer morning. The fresh scent of the forest. The cowbells. On top of all that, I love their way of life and their attitude to life. And there’s the cheese too, of course!

FIND OUT MORE...

Holidays in Switzerland

To experience the majesty of the Swiss Alps for yourself, choose either a walking or a cycling holiday. Alternatively, choose a winter holiday (you can go walking or snowshoeing if you prefer not to ski) to see them under a blanket of snow.

Walking, cycling and snow holidays in Switzerland >

The Danish Riviera

Our cycling holiday in Denmark is a leisurely affair, winding through handsome villages, alongside sandy beaches and past magnificent castles.

More about our cycling holiday in Denmark >

Ylläshumina Hotel, Ylläs

Ylläs is a magical place to enjoy Lapland in winter, with the friendly Ylläshumina Hotel the perfect base for a variety of activities.

More about our snow holidays in Finland >

The Secret Apennines

First-rate hospitality is key on this rewarding walking holiday in the mountains that form Italy’s spine.

More about our walking holidays in the Apennines >

Q: IS THERE A SPECIFIC PART OF SWITZERLAND THAT YOU LIKE MOST?
KARL: The Bernese Oberland, especially Grindelwald. Grindelwald was the first place I pitched up on my 1986 cycling trip where there were ‘proper’ mountains. It was raining when I arrived, but the clouds lifted later on, and I remember gawping at the north face of the Eiger in front of me.

Q: WOULD WE BE RIGHT IN ASSUMING THAT YOUR FAVOURITE INNTRAVEL HOLIDAY IS A SWISS ONE TOO?
KARL: Actually, no! I chose to do the Danish Riviera cycling holiday last year and loved it. I’d never been to Denmark before then, and I found that it had so much more than I’d imagined. There’s lots of history – especially regal history – and very varied architecture – grand palaces, villages of thatched-roof cottages, and huge seaside villas, each one different, with quirky little details. Copenhagen is buzzing, lively, youthful, and the whole country is so well set up for cyclists... Am I allowed to give a second one, though? Because my holiday to the Ylläshumina Hotel in Finland was also fantastic. In Ylläs you can enjoy everything that snow has to offer: snowshoeing, snowmobiling, skiing, husky safaris… Although it was dark (I was there over Christmas) it felt cosy somehow – if that makes sense. There’s something about sauna that adds to the snow experience. The cold and then the heat.

Q: WHAT’S YOUR BEST MEMORY FROM YOUR TRAVELS WITH INNTRAVEL?
KARL: My stay at the Hotel Montegrande in the Apennines. The welcome from Bruno Bartolomei was so effusive, and Piera’s food was delicious… I ate so much that I felt I’d never eat again!!

Q: LAST YEAR YOU TOOK PART IN A CHARITY BIKE RIDE IN THE YORKSHIRE WOLDS FOR RYEDALE SPECIAL FAMILIES. DO YOU HAVE ANY SIMILAR PLANS THIS SUMMER?
KARL: Inntravel will be sponsoring the event again, but, although I had a great time, I won’t be taking part this year. With the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire this summer, I fancy doing something related to that. I haven’t made any firm plans yet, but it would be fantastic to follow the route of Le Grand Départ. It’s a very exciting time to be in Yorkshire.