Andrew Dawson is chief operating officer at Sunwing Travel Group. But just who is the man behind the orange curtain?
Here, PAX checks in with Mr. Dawson to chat about the three things he always travels with, the time he surprised CIBC and the Caribbean resort he’s calling the “perfect place for a family vacation.”
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Andrew Dawson (AD): [One], My NEXUS card, I've had one since 2007 and it's an invaluable timesaver. [Two], a little gadget that’s got all the world’s different plug socket/outlets covered but also has an iPhone charger built in and a USB port too. [Three], swim shorts. Wherever I go, even on business, I try to find half an hour for a dip in the ocean.
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
AD: I have to confess, my number one is somewhere we don't fly, and it’s Queensland's Gold Coast. My whole family love it there. Closer to home, Jamaica is probably my favourite, but really, I'm spoiled for choice with all the great options across the Caribbean and Mexico. It’s so hard to choose one.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport?
AD: Changi in Singapore. A model of cleanliness and efficiency but with lots of great touches and inclusions too.
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took and why was it memorable?
AD: Benidorm in Spain, when I was 18. It’s probably not wise to try remember any of it.
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
AD: Paying for a night in one of the best suites at the Four Seasons in Sydney. It’s worth it for the perfect harbour view. I even took CIBC by surprise – they must know how cheap I usually am as they declined my card at check-in.
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
AD: People who bring large or numerous carry-ons on board a flight and expect they will magically fit.
PAX: Great segue to our next question! Checked bag or carry-on?
AD: Checked always. Carry-on is just too much trouble for me to potentially save a few minutes.
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
AD: Continually, unexpectedly meeting people. My old next door neighbour stood on the opposite platform to me on the Paris Metro once. Someone I went to school with 30 years ago from the UK walked into my local Indian [restaurant] when I lived in LA. A UK work colleague from over 20 years ago sat down at the same blackjack table as me on a Caribbean cruise. The list goes on…
PAX: What Sunwing products should travel agents have on their radar right now?
AD: The resurgence of Pacific Mexico is one of this winter’s big stories for Sunwing. We were enamoured recently by Mazatlán; we have a great new Riu product in Los Cabos; Ixtapa has a couple of our top-rated hotels at amazing prices; the success of the Riviera Diamante area is bringing new life to our Acapulco flights; Huatulco is a perfect spot for a re-union type group trip as we have flights from across the country all on the same day.
From personal experience, I’m recommending Royalton Bavaro [in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic] to all my friends as it’s the perfect place for a family vacation. The facilities, location and layouts are great if you have active kids, with the highlight, of course, being the surfing simulator.
Lastly, I’m excited to see the revitalization of my all-time favourite hotel, Riu Palace Tropical Bay, in Negril, Jamaica. The first visuals of the new look are great!