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, £15 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.