Peter Fankhauser is sitting by the pool on a sumptuous silver futon and is clearly enjoying his surroundings.

"You are just [made to feel] welcome here, and that is the cool atmosphere we are trying to create," he says.

It’s a word that the chief executive of Thomas Cook, Europe’s second-largest package holiday company, keeps coming back to -guests, furniture, even the gym instructor, are all declared "cool". We are at Casa Cook on the Greek island of Kos. It is a newly opened beach resort, the second in an emerging boutique chain being created by the company, aimed at younger, more affluent, and, yes, cooler travellers. To Fankhauser’s left, the Aegean Sea twinkles under a hot sun. On his right, a young man mixes cocktails behind the bar while a woman, dressed all in black, serves coffee. I can’t help noticing that the staff here are drop-dead gorgeous. "The people have to fit into it," the Swiss executive, 56, says in his heavy accent. "The [workers] who are here have to be cool as well. This is exactly what makes the difference." Looks matter, because Thomas Cook is a 176-year-old company attempting a sudden makeover. For decades, the company and other high-street tour operators relied on the ho...

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