Below is a list of frequently asked questions the answers to which might help you learn more about Original Diving and trips we offer. Don't hesitate to contact us if you need any further information. Click on each question to reveal the answer.
Original Diving is a trading division of award-winning tour operator, Original Travel. We are committed divers and travellers dedicated to creating diving holidays that allow people to dive the very best destinations around the world while staying in the very best hotels and boats. Launched in April 2010, our business began as Dive in Style, which is part coffee-table book and part indispensable dive guide, and has expanded to what is now Original Diving. Each destination we feature is still meticulously researched to ensure that individuals, families and couples will have the holiday of a lifetime whether they want to dive, snorkel or just relax but as well as offering luxury, we now offer adventure diving trips and much more.
Original Travel, launched in 2003 is a non-dive specific tour operator. It creates bespoke trips by combing personal insights and exceptional knowledge of worldwide destinations, to create memorable trips and experiences. Specialities include honeymoons, family trips, private properties, experience-filled adventures, safaris and luxury exclusive travel.
Tim Simond published the first edition of the book Dive in Style in 2006 and it quickly became a best-seller. During our research for the book we looked at hundreds of potential destinations, whittling them down until only the very best remained. These resorts formed the basis of the book and the travel business. To celebrate the success of the first book, and to mark the launch of the second edition in 2010, we launched Dive in Style, the tour operator. With so many of the hotels and the boats featured in the book extremely complicated to reach, we teamed up with award-winning travel company Original Travel to make the diving dreams on the pages of the book an effortless reality.
ATOL - which is short for Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing - exists to protect the public from losing money or being stranded abroad because of the failure of air travel firms. In the highly unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking. ATOL was first introduced in 1972 and it gives comprehensive consumer protection to 28 million people in the UK who buy flights or air holidays each year. The air hoildays and flights in this brochure are ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is ATOL 5922. Original Diving is a trading division of Original Travel Company Ltd. Original Travel is incorporated in England, company number 4437204. Please see our booking conditions for more information. For further information visit ATOL website at www.atol.org.uk
Almost every single one of Original Diving holidays is tailormade and entirely private (though watch this space). They do not involve you joining groups on set departure dates. This leaves you with the freedom to do as much or as little as you would like, for as long as you want and indeed whenever you would like to do it. There are, however, some occasions – particularly when it comes to diving liveaboards - where the benefits from set group departures (cost, logistical ease, inclusion on the tour of an expert guide to the area/subject) outweigh the relative lack of autonomy, and we will advise where this is the case.
We provide financial protection for our package holidays where your journey. 1. For flight-based holidays this is through our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 5922. When you buy an ATOL protected flight or flight inclusive holiday from us you will receive an ATOL Certificate. This lists the flight, accommodation, car hire and/or other services that are financially protected, where you can get information on what this means for you and who to contact if things go wrong. We will provide you with the services listed on the ATOL Certificate (or a suitable alternative). In some cases, where we aren’t able to do so for reasons of insolvency, an alternative ATOL holder may provide you with the services you have bought or a suitable alternative (at no extra cost to you). You agree to accept that in those circumstances the alternative ATOL holder will perform those obligations and you agree to pay any money outstanding to be paid by you under your contract to that alternative ATOL holder. However, you also agree that in some cases it will not be possible to appoint an alternative ATOL holder, in which case you will be entitled to make a claim under the ATOL scheme (or your credit card issuer where applicable). 2. When you buy a package holiday that doesn’t include a flight, protection is provided by way of a bond to ABTA held by our bankers, Svenska Handelsbanken. For further information please see www.abta.com. Original Travel is a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators. The Association represents Britain’s leading independent tour operators and encourages the highest standards in all aspects of tour operating. AITO sets criteria regarding ownership, finance and quality which must be satisfied before new companies are admitted to membership. Member companies, usually owner-managed, strive to create overseas holidays with high levels of professionalism and a shared concern for quality and personal service. Original Travel abides by the Association’s Code of Conduct and adheres to the AITO Quality Charter which can be viewed on www.aito.co.uk. Visit the website to find out more about the Association or call AITO on 020 8744 9280
Original Diving will either a) refund your holiday in its entirety subject to any cancellation charges as set out in the Terms and Conditions or b) offer you an equivalent holiday to a different destination either refunding or charging you any difference in cost with the original holiday. Original Diving can bear no responsibility for those who insist on going ahead with their travel plans despite the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice, and you will almost certainly risk being uninsured as well.
We will inform you of any visa and passport requirements, and will offer advice on vaccinations required. We do however recommend that you seek a qualified opinion from your GP for further inoculation advice.
Original Diving manages its foreign currency requirements very closely and follows a prudent hedging strategy designed a) to protect our clients from the horrors of surcharging (more on that later), and b) to protect ourselves from any nasty shocks on currency movement. We are, as far as we know, one of the only tour operators, big and small, to have said (live in BBC in mid-2007) that we won’t surcharge clients post booking. We hear endless stories of clients being approached by other operators for four figure surcharges. Believe it or not, these operators are legally allowed to do this. By protecting the downside we don’t have to and can therefore stand by our statement on BBC. As you can imagine we have not made many friends in the industry as a result!
Credit card companies’ insurance coverage often offers the very lowest cover on the market. Furthermore several of Original Diving's holidays involve activities that you are unlikely to be covered for under your existing policy. We will not sell a holiday to someone who is not sufficiently covered. We can issue policies that provide the very highest level of insurance cover for your holiday and for the activities you will be enjoying.
Yes is the simple answer. We are constantly putting together corporate trips from simple six people weekends to far more innovative trips for larger groups. Get in touch for more information.
Air travel is a major source of atmospheric pollution. Original Diving is committed to reducing this negative impact as much as possible. We have teamed up with Climate Care to help our clients offset the environmental cost of their trips. Original Diving clients will be offered the choice of paying a small surcharge in order to offset the CO2 emissions of their air travel. (We have worked out the ‘climate cost’ of each of our destinations - long haul obviously costs more than short haul). The money raised is then passed to Climate Care, which works as a repair service for the climate - it runs a variety of projects that reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, thus making your trip ‘climate neutral’. The charge will be on an ‘opt-out’ basis, i.e. the Climate Care surcharge will appear on your invoice, but you have the option not to pay - rather like the service charge in a restaurant. We are delighted to say that since we introduced the scheme in 2006 only three clients have asked to opt out. Climate Care’s projects are located in the developing world. This means that all the emissions reductions that you pay for go over and above the cuts in greenhouse gases that the UK government is already committed to making. The projects avoid, reduce or absorb greenhouse gases by either: promoting renewable energy (cutting out fossil fuels); promoting energy efficiency (applying technologies that use less energy); or reforestation (absorbing and storing CO2). All projects are monitored and verified by a third party to ensure the highest standards of environmental integrity.
As you’d expect from a company that came about because of its founders’ love of exploring the world, experiencing different cultures, and admiring foreign landscapes, Original Diving feels strongly that tourism can and should benefit countries and peoples. Original Diving is a member of the Responsible Tourism scheme of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO), from which we have gained two stars for our practices. With a range of destinations as wide as ours - from deep seas to mountains high, from the Azores to Mozambique, Italy to Papua New Guinea and Lamu to Australia - come a wide range of conservation and community-related challenges, many of which are being addressed locally, for example: in Morocco, the Kasbah Du Toubkal in the High Atlas mountains was restored in conjunction with the Berber people of the nearby Imlil valley, using local labour and traditional methods, and is now run by staff from the Ait Mizane tribe in the surrounding villages. In the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador, Huaorani EcoLodge offers visitors the chance to see the tribe living harmoniously in the rainforest, and the management of this venture will be handed over to the Huaorani people themselves once they are ready to take on all aspects of the conservation and tourism programmes. Benguerra Lodge in Mozambique works closely with the World Wildlife Fund and South Africa’s Endangered Wildlife Trust to ensure that the National Marine Park in which it is located is well maintained and remains unspoiled. In Kenya, Elsa’s Kopje provides seeds to local farmers to farm specifically for the hotel, meaning that the hotel avoids having to buy and transport produce from Nairobi. Handcrafts made by the indigenous Tharaka people are for sale in the hotel shop, and the building of a local school was financed through client donations. Hacienda de San Rafael in Andalucia recycles all waste water from the hotel and uses it for irrigation, makes its own compost, and has installed energy-saving insulation and lighting systems.?Family-run ski hotel St Antoner Hof in Austria serves regional and organic ingredients in its restaurant, and the power that heats the hotel comes from a biomass plant that serves only the town of Lech itself. We have given every hotel, lodge and camp we offer an ‘eco-rating’ so you can make an informed decision on where to stay in a particular region. In the destinations we feature, we prefer small, locally-run operators and properties where possible, and our trip dossiers are full of recommendations based on our favourite local restaurants, shops and activities. Closer to home, we cycle (we are part of the government’s excellent Cycle to Work scheme) or walk to our Battersea offices, recycle our paper once there, and use Fair Trade products in our kitchen and bathrooms.
We believe there are five broad benefits to booking through us; (i) our first hand knowledge of the holiday you plan to book, (ii) the leverage we wield with our suppliers, (iii) having one point of contact for all arrangements, (iv) financial protection, and (v) our commitment to avoid surcharging clients with FX risk. The Original Diving and Original Travel teams have spent several years sourcing and selecting the very finest hotels, airlines and activities from around the world and have first hand experience of everything we offer. Apart from saving you huge amounts of research time we would like to think that our relationships with suppliers are built on very strong foundations and give our clients the very best of what is on offer. Our relationships with hotels, guides and ground handlers have been built up over many years and they depend on us for large chunks of their custom. We are therefore able to wield a certain amount of leverage on them to give our clients the very best service, upgrades where possible etc. Having one source to arrange everything and one point of contact to make changes is central to your peace of mind. Our ATOL licence and AITO membership offer financial protection to you the consumer that you wouldn’t receive if you booked direct. Finally we manage our FX positions incredibly closely and are, as far as we know, one of the only tour operators, big and small, to have said (live in BBC earlier this year) that we won’t surcharge clients post booking. We are hearing endless stories of clients being approached for four figure surcharges on relatively small bookings because the companies in question have not managed their FX requirements properly. Believe it or not, these operators are legally allowed to do this.
We recently sent an extensive survey to all the mums and dads we know and asked them what makes or breaks a family holiday and what Original Diving could do to make the whole experience easier. As a result of those responses and our own experience, we have created what we think is a portfolio of the best trips - be they R&R beach holidays or more experience-led adventures - from around the world. All the hotels featured have completed rigorous Original Kids FAQs and fact sheets that we will send out with our detailed quotations so you have all the information in front you to make a properly informed decision on where to go and what to do. When you book an Original Diving family trip, you will receive one of our family-friendly dossiers.