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Aiming High: The Life of Ski and Travel Pioneer Erna Low [Hardcover]

Mark Frary
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
RRP: 19.95
Price: 13.92 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Jan 2013
Erna Low, born in Vienna in 1909, was instrumental in starting what has become a multimillion pound industry: the ski holiday business. In 1932, she placed an advert in the Morning Post saying "Austria, fortnight, GBP15 only, including rail and hotel, arranged by young Viennese Graduette for young people leaving Christmas". For her, it was a way to get back home to see her family over Christmas, but the popularity of the trip soon saw it develop into a lucrative business. Erna, an Austrian javelin champion and handball player, soon branched out into parties for the young elite at country houses around Britain, becoming something of a matchmaker for the 20- and 30-somethings who flocked to her events year after year. When war came to Europe, she joined the BBC, listening in on German broadcasts to help the Allied effort. After normality had been restored, she grasped the opportunity offered by rising standards of living and grew her eponymous company into a leading travel company in the market by the 1960s, introducing many holiday destinations and concepts to the British market. A consummate networker, Erna Low introduced herself to the great and the good and became their friend and confidante. She taught royalty, actors and politicians to ski. This illustrated hardback biography examines Erna's life, including interviews with her friends and colleagues and shows how her strength of character and business nous enabled her to succeed in a male-dominated world. It will appeal to anyone interested in the history of skiing and travel in Britain, the hundreds of thousands of past and present customers of Erna Low as well as anyone interested in how an independent young Austrian woman from a challenging background became a household name and business success in Britain. A foreword has been written by Roger Lloyd Pack. '2012 is the 80th anniversary of the first Erna Low-organised ski trip. The current chief executive of her company has an amazing archive of material collected by Erna during her life and it was going through this that inspired me to write it,' says author Mark about Aiming High.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Matador (1 Jan 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780883544
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780883540
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 195,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Frary is the author of eight books and writes regularly for many publications, including The Times, Daily Telegraph, the Evening Standard and the Independent on Sunday and is the editor of Public Sector Travel, a website about government travel.

He writes about skiing, travel, science, technology, particularly social media, business and the public sector. He is also a regular speaker at conferences on social media.

Before becoming a writer, he was a nuclear physicist at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland and also worked for the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) as a technical editor.

It was in Switzerland that he fell in love with skiing and has since skied all around the world and written about it on the web, in newspapers, magazines and books. He can get down most slopes these days but not with huge amounts of style.

He lives in Ampthill, Bedfordshire with his wife and three children. "My children are early risers and I find that I write best first thing in the morning," he says.

He also helps organise the annual AmpRocks music festival.

Product Description


A window into the life of a remarkable woman who changed the face of the travel business. --Roger Lloyd Pack, Actor

About the Author

Mark Frary has written about skiing for The Times, Evening Standard, Ski & Board, Teletext, the easyJet magazine Traveller and Food & Travel. He has skied in resorts all around the world and lived in Switzerland for a number of years.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A century of skiing 28 Mar 2013
Aiming High, describes 'the life of ski and travel pioneer Erna Low' in some detail without getting too bogged down by her numerous friends and acquaintances (including many well-known names mainly drawn from the English upper-middle classes) or the many obscure Austrian villages to which she took her early pre-war 'ski parties'. Erna Low came to London in 1930 to study English literature on a shoestring. To raise money to visit her family she famously placed a newspaper advert inviting 'young people leaving Christmas' to join 'Viennese Graduette' for a fortnight in Austria (resort not specified) including rail travel and hotel accommodation for 15.

The book gives a fascinating impression of the energy and indomitability of its subject, the driving force behind her quickly expanding ski trip programme. However, the outbreak of war in 1938 meant the end of all foreign travel, so she turned her 'wily sheepdog ability to get things and people organised' to English country house parties, where measly rations would be pooled by groups of like-minded young people seeking to escape the trials and tedium of the war, and maybe by the way to find a wife or husband!

Low was an inveterate match-maker, although she herself never married despite a lifelong string of apparently platonic male relationships. Mark Frary has uncovered a couple of 'love letters' she wrote giving an insight into the more vulnerable side of her workaholic, tee-total personality.

After the war, she effectively combined the 'house party' and skiing holiday ideas to become most distinctive and diverse British tour operator.
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4.0 out of 5 stars How the ski tracel industry started 23 Feb 2014
By Jim61
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A Good intro into the early ski holiday company and the growth of skiing as a sport and leisure pastime
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Many tour operators have led colourful and successful lives, but few can match Erna Low in diversity, networking skills and business acumen. It is good that future generations will now have an account of this life, warts and all, and one from which we can still learn. She would have tweeted reluctantly and was too serious for Facebook, but she would have continued to support high standards and financial safeguards, both of which were in short supply in the travel industry when she expanded in the 1960sand 1970s. Her legacy to potential successors as tour operators must be: never forget the personal touch. Find time to see a group off, to phone the leader on their return, or to ask for a frank opinion on a hotel. I know and knew many of the people mentioned in this book, whose humour and determination to succeed has continued into their retirement. Let us hope future generations can tear themselves away from their computers for just an hour or two to read this book and to see that a business successful fifty years ago still has a lot to teach us.
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