Our story

Alfred Kuoni launched his pioneering travel agency in Switzerland in 1906. He was a total visionary, an adventurer and explorer, opening up new destinations and experiences across the globe. Kuoni grew to be the biggest travel company in Switzerland and arrived in the UK in 1965. Since then, Kuoni has grown to become the country’s leading longhaul tour operator, has picked up over 200 service and travel awards and has opened over 40 beautiful Kuoni stores.

1965

Kuoni purchases Challis and Benson in London’s Bond Street.

1966

Peter Diethelm establishes the Kuoni UK tour operation.

1970

Kuoni takes 2000 UK visitors to the Expo 70 exhibition in Japan, and introduces the first holiday charter flight to the Far East.

1974

Kuoni takes over Houlders World Holidays and launches a longhaul tour programme. The tour operation relocates to new headquarters in Dorking where they remain to this day.

1980

Kuoni installs a computerised reservations system, revolutionising the speed and flexibility of tailor-making holidays.

1981

Kuoni introduces its first collection of summer holidays to Switzerland.

1983

Kuoni wins the first Travel Weekly award for Britain’s Best Longhaul Tour Operator.

1984

Kuoni operates the first chartered Concorde flight to the Caribbean.

1987

Kuoni offers the first round-the-world holiday by Concorde and introduces the first charter flight to the Maldives.

1988

We launch the KUDOS Reservations System for travel agents, the first system to offer considerable flexibility.

1992

Kuoni is the first travel company to win both the TTG and Travel Weekly Best Longhaul Operator award for 10 years in a row.

1998

Kuoni wins first ever award for ‘World’s Best Tour Operator’ at the World Travel Awards and Kuoni acquires Voyages Jules Verne.

1999

Kuoni is the first UK tour operator to offer online booking

2000

Kuoni World Class is launched, a collection of the world’s finest handpicked holidays.

2001

Sue Biggs becomes MD and Peter Diethelm remains Executive Chairman.

2002

Kuoni wins Travel Weekly’s Best Longhaul Tour Operator award for the 20th consecutive year.

2005

Peter Diethelm retires after 40 years.

2006

Kuoni Group celebrates its centenary and Kuoni UK arranges an epic Cairo to Cape journey for charity. Kuoni also picks up 25 awards this year and acquires Journeys of Distinction and Kirker Holidays.

2007

Kuoni is voted Travel Weekly’s Best Longhaul Tour Operator for the 25th year and the Daily Mail’s Favourite Longhaul Tour Operator. Kuoni acquires CV Travel.

2008

Kuoni launches new-look brochures and we open our first two Kuoni stores in Kensington and Manchester. We also acquire luxury travel company, Carrier.

2009

Kuoni picks up awards including Favourite Family Tour Operator at the Sunday Times Travel Magazine Awards. Kuoni stores open in Bristol, Bluewater, Milton Keynes and Knightsbridge.

2010

Kuoni wins Favourite Family Tour Operator at the Sunday Times Travel Magazine Awards for the second year in a row. We also pick up the Travel Agents Choice Award for the Indian Sub-Continent and are named Star Wedding & Honeymoon Operator at the Travel Bulletin Awards. Kuoni stores open in Solihull, Cheltenham, Nottingham, Liverpool and Meadowhall.

2011

Derek Jones takes over as MD. Kuoni Explore magazine is launched, as well as a collection of responsible tourism holidays called Ananea. We become a Which? Recommended Provider and pick up numerous awards, including Best Luxury Tour Operator at the Sunday Times Travel Magazine Awards. We open stores in Dorking, Cambridge, London City, Leeds, Kingston, Guildford, Canterbury, Chichester, Winchester and Stratford.

2012

We become the exclusive travel partner of John Lewis and pick up numerous awards, including Best Honeymoon Company at the Perfect Wedding magazine awards. We open new Kuoni stores in branches of John Lewis, including Southampton, London’s Oxford Street, Reading and Cardiff. We also open a Kuoni store in Manchester’s Trafford Centre.

2013

Kuoni launches its first TV advert in the UK. We also launch Stay & Cruise holidays and pick up seven awards. Kuoni at John Lewis stores open in Leicester, Brent Cross, Aberdeen and Welwyn Garden City.

2014

Kuoni becomes one of the Sunday Times’ 100 Best Companies to Work For in the mid-sized category. We launch a responsive website so you can view it easily on your mobile and introduce webchat. We launch a new all-inclusive brochure, pick up eight awards and partner with Ski Independence to offer ski holidays. We also open Kuoni at John Lewis stores in Bristol’s Cribbs Causeway and Norwich; as well as Kuoni stores in High Wycombe and the Metrocentre in Gateshead.

2015

Kuoni launches a new ‘Find your amazing’ TV advert, featuring a synchronised swimmer in the Maldives running on water. Kuoni partners with Neilson to offer activity holidays, opens a new Kuoni store in Chester and is voted Best Large Luxury Tour Operator at the Telegraph’s Ultra Travel 100 Awards. Kuoni Group also sells Kuoni UK to DER Touristik, part of the REWE Group.

2016

Kuoni opens new stores in Edinburgh, Leeds, Lakeside, Harrogate, Glasgow, Bromley, Cheadle, St Albans and Chelmsford. Kuoni picks up awards including Best Large Luxury Holiday Company at the British Travel Awards; Best Large Luxury Tour Operator at the Daily Telegraph Ultratravel Awards; and Best Long-Haul Operator (multi-destination) at the Travel Weekly Globe Awards. We were also named one of the Sunday Times’ 100 Best Mid-sized Companies to Work For. At the end of the year, Kuoni launched its new ‘Travel out of the ordinary’ campaign, which included a TV advert directed by Luke Losey, who has created campaigns for Ralph Lauren and Mulberry, as well as films, music videos and live shows for bands ranging from The Libertines to The Verve.