Michelle Thake

New appointment at Solmar to boost travel trade team

One of the UK’s fastest growing villa holiday companies has announced the appointment of a new senior manager as it looks to further boost its trade sales.

Michelle Thake has joined Solmar Villa Holidays as the new senior trade sales manager, bringing with her more than 30 years of travel industry experience.

The appointment comes as the family-run, award-winning business, prepares to enter its 30th anniversary year and looks to further its growth.

Michelle has extensive industry experience having previously held positions at Ocean Holidays, Jet2holidays and Ras AI Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, as well as running her own travel retail business.

She said: “I am really excited to join Solmar Villas and to be working alongside Dave Ison, Solmar’s international trade sales manager, as we look to grow the number of agents we work with as well as strengthen existing partnerships.”

Sharon Bradbury, marketing director for Solmar, said she was thrilled to have Michelle on board as the company looked to target further growth in 2024 and beyond.

She said: “Michelle has extensive experience of the travel industry and a huge amount of knowledge and insight as to how agents operate and what they need and will be a huge asset to the team as we look to grow our agent partnerships.”

Sharon is also relatively new in the door at Solmar having joined the senior leadership team earlier this year alongside product and commercial director Gary Horsford, finance director Melanie Hopewell and operations director Emma-Jane Browning.

Solmar chief executive Julie Blake, whose parents started the Burton-on-Trent business almost 30 years ago with just one Spanish villa, said: “We have serious ambitions for growth and the team we have put in place this year will be playing a huge part in driving the business forward.

“They are all great people who are exceptional at what they do and with their support, we are hoping to fulfil our goal of becoming the UK’s primary provider of villas with private pools.”

Solmar picked up seven gold awards at the 2023 British Travel Awards including Best Travel Company for Villa Holidays.

It is set to start the 2024 holiday season with more than 2,000 properties in its European and US portfolio.

Villas on the Ionian coast, Kos, Ibiza and the Peloponnese have all been added as new destinations this year and the company has plans to expand this portfolio further over the next 12 months.

Solmar was created by Julie’s parents John and Maria in the 1980s after they bought their own villa and started to rent it out. The company is based in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, and now operates across Europe and the Mediterranean.