Spies (pronounced "spees") has been Denmark's largest travel firm for as long as I remember, seems it was always there. It was founded back in the 50s by an eccentric genius, Simon Spies, and continued by his young gold-digger wife, Janni, after the Chairman's death in 1984. Several takeovers and name changes later, and here we are. Thomas Cook, the current owner, is bankrupt and a new owner will be revealed later today. But Spies is still Spies, the ever resilient travel firm which was the first to charter cheap flights abroad, in particular to the Danes' favorite destination, the island of Majorca. It all began on 11. November 1956, when Simon Spies arranged for 26 Danish tourists to ride by train to Barcelona and then continue on a boat to Majorca. Thus began one of the great business adventures in modern Danish history. Ordinary Danes could now afford to vacation on the island of Majorca, where there was sun, sea, sand, cheap wine, and roast pig parties. This new venture broke the insularity and provincialism of ordinary Danes, even if their broadened world outlook rarely extended any further than the hotel, pool, and beach included in their package tours. Simon Spies would become one of the richest men in Denmark, one of the first billionaires in DKK. His wild parties were the stuff of legend, and I remember when I was a little boy, having a giggle at a photo spread of one of his sex orgies, which was brought as a feature in a Danish television and radio gossip weekly. Shocking, but good publicity, Spies knew how to cultivate a public persona. People would lap up the stories, like the one where he'd buy two theater tickets, one for himself and one for his cane. At its peak, Spies Rejser had its own hotels and even its own charter airline, amusingly called "Conair". Their motto was: "Spies, rejs, og vær glad." (meaning: eat, travel, and be happy -- where "Spies" is a pun on the Danish word for eat, "spis"). I never traveled with Spies, but in 1976 I saw the movie "Slade in Flame" at their luxury cinema in Copenhagen, where each seat was a cushy armchair with a foot rest, to boot.
in reality, all of this has been a total load of old bollocks
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