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Venture Xtreme


Venture Xtreme Consultancy was founded by Steve Jones and is run on a day to day basis by CEO Andy Macnae. We have a wider team of over 20 associates who are all leaders in their fields. Our team has operated at a high level within their adventure sports, firstly as elite athletes and then as leading designers, builders and operators of successful adventure sports assets. This means we have a high degree of credibility within the sector and that we can select the very best team to meet the needs of any given project.

Go to the team


Andy leeds trip

Andy Macnae

Chief Executive Officer

Andy has worked with Steve on all our major projects of the past five years and joined the team as Chief Executive of Venture Xtreme Consultancy in 2017. He brings with him a unique blend of strategic and business expertise backed up by over 30 years experience in the world of adventure sport as a climber, skiier and mountain biker.

Andy was the National Officer for the British Mountaineering Council and Chief Executive of Mountain Services. He has also enjoyed senior roles in the outdoor retail sector. He was the founding editor of Summit Magazine and co-authored Safety on Mountains. He has an MBA from Manchester Business School. As an adventure sports consultant Andy's principal interest is in place-making strategies and developing facilities with robust business cases backed up by strong evidence. He has worked on many major projects in the UK and internationally and his experience complements Steve's perfectly.

Andy bouldering 1
At 7000m

Most recently Andy has led on a number of major Middle East projects including Oman by UTMB, Adventure Musandam, Qiddiya and NEOM Adventure Sport Consultancy. He is currently leading VX's work on several confidential projects in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Andy has led over 15 expeditions to the greater ranges and explored new climbing locations from the Rift Valley to the Musandam peninsula. He remains a keen climber but nowadays focuses his competitive urges on the bike! He is a director trustee of Cycling UK, where he chairs the finance and performance committee, a board member of Growth Lancashire, a member of the Mount Everest Committee and recent vice chair of the Lancashire Visitor Economy Forum.

Steve jones caving

Steve Jones

Managing Director and Founder

Steve is an entrepreneur and extreme sports enthusiast, and the founder and vision behind the Venture Xtreme Consultancy concept. Steve has worked in the world of adventure sport for over 35 years, starting as an outdoor pursuits instructor and working his way up to Managing Director of Entre-Prises Climbing Walls, which he took from being a new start-up company to becoming the second biggest extreme sports manufacturer in the world. Initially specialising in climbing walls, the company diversified under Steve’s leadership to build the world’s first artificial cave systems, the first indoor ice climbing structures and the first indoor ropes courses with climbing walls. Steve has gained practical experience in managing every area of business development and subsequently has been instrumental in the preparation of numerous business plans for extreme sports projects.

Steve has an excellent knowledge of most extreme sports through a lifetime of participation in caving, climbing, canoeing, diving, sailing and rafting, to name but a few, and in many cases at a very impressive level. Steve was the nominated UK expert working on European Standards for over 10 years and has worked as an expert witness in legal cases.

170m drom into Majlis Al Jinn
China dive 4

Steve has delivered a great many projects worldwide. The most recent was in Oman where he led on adventure sports activation for OMRAN, a government owned development company. He developed the Alila Via Ferrata, which now features in most Oman Tourism promotional literature; over 200 km of mapped and waymarked walking trails; the Oman by UTMB course design, which is now considered the world’s toughest 100 mile ultra-trail, and at the Millennium Resort he developed the country’s first zip wire and inflatable adventure waterpark.

For the Oman Ministry of Tourism Steve led on the development of Risk Management and Safety in Adventure Sports, and took a senior Omani team of officials to New Zealand on an information-gathering tour. Steve advised on a number of environmental projects throughout Oman and was recognised by General Sultan Bin Mohammed Al-Naamani, the Minister of the Royal Office, for his discovery and exploration of a spectacular new cave in the Hajar mountains.

Steve is a renowned speaker at world conferences and has appeared in several adventure documentaries on television for the BBC, Canal Plus and National Geographic, most recently leading a caving expedition to Irian Jaya with Steve Backshall – Down The Mighty River.

Rory Holburn

Rory Holburn

Senior Associate, Operations

Rory Holburn has over 30 years of experience in developing, managing and consulting on visitor attractions around the world. Previously Director of Operations for London’s then leading theme park, Chessington World of Adventures, and instrumental in its transformation from a zoo to a modern attraction, Rory has since worked alongside the head of Walt Disney Imagineering and the founder of Walt Disney Theatrical to develop numerous attraction concepts, operational plans and business models for destinations around the world.

Rory was engaged by Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour to advise on the design, operation and economics of the Leavesden film studio attraction throughout its development and opening and has fulfilled consultancy contracts around the world for numerous clients.

For the past 17 years Rory has also overseen all aspects of a public-sector contract on behalf of North Norfolk District Council to manage, preserve and regenerate the historic Grade 2 listed Cromer Pier and the produce the last remaining “End of Pier” show in the world, now a heritage attraction in it’s own right. He has recently secured a further 15-year deal to continue oversight of this iconic landmark attraction.

In 2006 Rory and his business partner secured a 25-year lease from Bournemouth Borough Council for Bournemouth Pier, the key destination in the UK’s leading seaside resort. They invested their own funds to regenerate the pier and develop a range of restaurants, bars, retail outlets and their own new adventure sports attraction concept, RockReef, including the world’s first Pier to Beach zip line.

Rory additionally represents Apogee Attractions Inc. a leading US theme park and attractions design house, throughout the Middel East and North Africa.

Rory specialises in working alongside the design team to ensure that creative concepts and physical designs become viable, market led attraction operations. From developing initial concepts, through economic modelling and design quantifications, Rory guides the design process to ensure that the eventual operation meets the desired levels of visitor satisfaction, repeat attendance and economic viability.


Andy Whittaker

Senior Associate, Mountain Biking and Trail Development. Graphic Designer

Andy is the leading Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) mountain biker and trail designer having lived in the area for 25 years. He has been the driving force behind much of the mountain bike development in the region over the past decade. In particular he designed and developed the mountain bike centre at Hatta (UAE) which is widely recognised as the best in the region, as well as the smaller facility at Sowka. He worked with Andy Macnae in delivering an adventure sport development strategy for Hatta and has been managing delivery of the trail elements of this during 2018-19. This includes trail design and supervision of the construction team.

In 2018 Andy led on the design and construction of over 100km walking and running trails in the Hajar mountains of Oman. These trails were then used for the inaugural OmanbyUTMB Ultra Trail event for which Andy acted as Course Director. In 2019 he led on extending this trail system and developing proposals for additional mountain bike facilities on Jebel Akhdar. In 2019 he developed Mountain Biking and Hiking trail concepts for a major new destination near Jebel Hafeet whilst also mapping trail opportunities within the NEOM region. In 2021 he delivered an extensive and innovative trail network within the Dubai municipality. Overall Andy’s experience means that he is by far the GCC region’s leading expert on trail development.

Andy is also an illustrator and graphic designer with over 30 years’ experience in the field. He is thus able to bring his trails designs to life through innovative visuals and interpretation.

Read climbing saudi

Read MacAdam

Senior Associate, Climbing

Read has been the leading rock climber active in the GCC since moving to the region in 2006, living first in Dubai and then Muscat. During his time in Oman, Read developed and ascended many new world-class climbs, including the most difficult in the region (including Arabia’s first 8c route). He has opened new areas in multiple styles, putting the country on the international climbing map with his films and writing. Since 2018 he has been leading on climbing development in Saudi Arabia, working closely with the Saudi Climbing Federation, and most recently establishing the first rock climbs in the NEOM region. Career highlights include:

2020-21 Team lead for NEOM climbing development phase 1 and 2, establishing over 100 new climbs in the Hisma region.

2019 Team Lead for Saudi Climbing and Hiking Federation Bolting Project Phase II to develop official and professionally equipped sport climbing venues in the Kingdom. In November 2019 led a team of 3 others to equip 78 new sport climbs in two venues.

2019 Team Lead for Climbing Teams during NEOM Launch media production in April. Oversaw all climbing aspects from developing the team, to preparing the venue, showcasing routes, providing safety on site and acting as MC during the event.

2018 Team Lead for Saudi Climbing and Hiking Federation Bolting Project Phase I to develop the Kingdom’s first official and professionally equipped sport climbing venues. In October 2018 led a team of 3 others to develop 92 sport climbs across two new areas.

2017 – present: Co-Owner of Explore Climbing SNC. Co-owns and operates Italy’s leading climbing training equipment company, including design and build of climbing walls, training zones and wooden training equipment.

2017 Conception and Director – Red Bull Psicobloc Capture the Flag, Musandam, Oman. A unique competitive deep water soloing event with a capture the flag format. The first in the region with climbers from all over the Arabian world and Chris Sharma, one of the world’s top climbing athletes.

2016 Technical and Contest Director – Red Bull Civil Walls, Beirut, Lebanon. A unique climbing event on a civil war era building using bullet holes for the ascent. Oversaw technical, climbing-related, contest and safety aspects of the event. Over 52 competitors on one day with hundreds of spectators from all walks of life in the same venue, united by climbing.

Phil taylor

Phil Taylor

Senior Associate, Operations and Commercials

Phil has successfully combined an early career in project management with business administration to build up a significant track record in the development and operation of some of the world’s most renowned leisure businesses.

Phil’s career includes leading roles in the development and operation of Ski Dubai, London Eye, Alton Towers Resort in the UK, Port Aventura Resort in Spain, Disneyland Paris and many more. He has also worked as a consultant to the Leisure Industry as a Director of the London office of Economics Research Associates, the world’s oldest and largest leisure consulting firm.

Focused for more than 20 years exclusively on the leisure sector, Phil was a main Board Director for The Tussauds Group, owners of a worldwide portfolio of Madame Tussauds wax museums, attractions, resorts and theme parks, for 6 years. The portfolio of attractions included a wide range of large-scale outdoor attractions, from historic properties to theme parks, including Alton Towers, Chessington World of Adventures, Warwick Castle and Thorpe Park, which Phil acquired for the Group in 1998, and indoor attractions, like Madam Tussauds and The London Eye.

Phil negotiated and led The Tussauds Group’s participation in The London Eye as a shareholder and operator throughout its development and led the full operational start-up of The London Eye.

Prior to coming to the Middle East in 2003, Phil was a Director of the London office of Economics Research Associates where he carried out a great number of feasibility and land use studies, operational reviews and concept reviews for both private and government sector clients worldwide.

In the Middle East, where Phil has been based since 2003 he is perhaps best known, for his role as CEO for Ski Dubai, the world’s first indoor real snow mountain resort. Phil managed the development, set up the full operation and successfully ran the resort for the first year giving him first-hand experience of the UAE market. This was a very similar development and operational role to the one he played for the London Eye and for other major attractions, such as the Port Aventura theme park and resort in Spain.

Phil’s record of creating innovative, commercially successful leisure concepts that combine entertainment, F&B, retail and dynamic public spaces is second to none.

In November 2006 Ski Dubai was awarded a Themed Entertainment Association award for Outstanding Innovation, its sixth major international award in less than 12 months. The longer established London Eye has to date won over 70 awards while Magic Planet at The Avenues in Kuwait, of which Phil’s company Team Leisure managed the concept development and project delivery, won the 2009 Top International Family Entertainment Centre in the World award and Little Explorers, part of the Playnation concept development managed by Team Leisure winning the Time Out Dubai Best Kids Edutainment Venue Award in 2014 and 2015.

Following the outstanding success of the launch of Ski Dubai, Phil set up Team Leisure in 2007 with a mix of direct employees and a worldwide network of Associates to bring world class development and operational expertise to the leisure industry.

Since its inception, Team Leisure has provided development and operational consulting services on a wide range of leisure businesses across the whole of the Middle East and elsewhere in the world, including Russia, Singapore, China and Korea.

In the Middle East the emphasis has very much been on bringing best operational practice and innovative, groundbreaking leisure offers to the region, such as a 75 hectare, US$ 1.2 billion theme park development in a Gulf country for which Phil recently led the masterplanning, concept and feasibility study. An exciting 5-minute animated film of the project was also produced.

At the other end of the investment scale Team Leisure has developed an extensive database and knowledge of children’s play centres and undertaken feasibility and concept studies for a wide range of small scale indoor attractions, including, for example, creating the concept for the recently opened 650 sqm Kid’s Connection play centre at Wafi Mall in Dubai.

Phil Nelson Profile

Phil Nelson

Senior Associate, Surf Parks and Active Entertainment

Phil Nelson is our specialist in Surf Park and Water Sports development and operation. He was the owner of innovative North Wales company Surf-Lines Ltd and at the forefront of many developments in the adventure market. His was the first business in North Wales to offer coasteering, wild swimming and stand up paddle boarding as well as creating the Adventure Gym, and offering a unique membership scheme for outdoor sports. He became the Business Development Director at Surf Snowdonia Adventure Parc in its critical pre-launch and development phase. Surf Snowdonia Adventure Parc is a revolutionary world-first inland surf lagoon and the UK’s most compelling outdoor adventure destination. This is a genuinely revolutionary outdoor adventure destination which is a showcase for the first ever publicly accessible Wavegarden. The 300-metre surf lagoon is home to the longest man-made surfable waves on the planet. Phil helped to guide this £17 million world first development and establish everything from pricing to staffing, retail to F&B, health and safety to environmental improvements.

Phil also works with Walltopia in the UK (Walltopia is one of the World’s leading manufacturers of Climbing Walls and Active Entertainment products) and so has an exceptional knowledge of the design, installation and operation of a full range of adventure products as well as the business models underpinning them.

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Justin Halls

Senior Associate, Safety Management and Via Ferrata

Justin has extensive experience working in the outdoor Industry with multi-cultural teams and clients, and a vast experience and knowledge of technical rope work and techniques. For over 20 years he has lived in the Middle East and managed teams in the outdoors, including management of Oman’s Mountain Rescue teams. He has great experience running group sessions in adventure and outdoor related activities and has a very detailed knowledge of various birds, mammals, reptiles, insects and plant life in the GCC.

Justin is a first aid trainer instructor, and a highly skilled rope access technician. As a result he has worked extensively with TV film companies on expeditions around the world. In Oman he has built and maintained numerous via ferratas, zip wires and climbing walls and has made many first descents through multi-day technical canyons in the Sultanate. He is Oman’s most qualified instructor and leads groups on caving, climbing, canyoning, trekking and wildlife and bird watching trips. He is a highly sort after guide and has a unique knowledge of Oman’s wild places.

More recently Justin has been managing safety for the BBC’s ‘EXPEDITION with Steve Backshall’ in Oman and Saudi Arabia, involving a series of epic adventures: scaling an unclimbed 4 day cliff face; abseiling into the 6th biggest cave chamber in the world and exploring new uncharted canyons. His work included:

  • Risk assessment of the areas
  • Mapping the routes
  • Assessing environmental considerations for resident birds and wildlife
  • Rigging and installation of fixed ropes
  • Ensuring safety of the filming crew
  • Developing rescue plans and crisis management

Justin trains the guides using Oman’s via ferratas, is a qualified PPE inspector and oversees safety at many of Oman’s top hotels and events. He trains the police and fire services in rescue techniques and oversees all safety for 5,000 runners on the Oman UTMB. He has very extensive experience in Saudi Arabia, working with the VX team to map adventure sports assets in the NEOM, Al Ulla and Asser regions.

Neom panorama
David pic Vx

David and Donna Hayler-Montague

Associate Consultants Scuba Diving

David and Donna run the renowned Bubbles Dive centre in Malta and so bring with them a wealth of practical experience in support of VX projects. Bubbles Dive Centre in Malta is one of the best and most respected in the industry having won numerous dive and marine conservation awards whilst maintaining a 100% safety record. David and Donna have pioneered low impact diving to protect the marine environment whilst setting up the Gozo diving academy which is now leading the way in training professional divers (Bubbles is a PADI Career Development Centre). They have a complimentary skill set allowing us to address all aspects of dive centre feasibility and operation as well as the mapping, operation and sustainability of dive sites.

David is one of the most highly qualified divers in the world. He is PADI course director with over 5000 dives worldwide and a vast range of technical and specialist diving qualifications. He thus brings the highest level of professional diving skills along with a practical understanding of what dive centre customers want. David also has an exceptional commercial and strategic background having had senior roles at the UK Cabinet Office and Unilever as well as a board director role at a management consultancy.

Donna spent 10 years in the security industry managing major bid programmes and worked as a freelance consultant specialising in persuasive communication including bid management, website design and marketing analysis. Before opening Bubbles Dive Centre Donna created SkiHire2U, a very successful mobile ski hire business in the Portes du Soleil. At Bubbles her focus is on maintaining exceptionally high levels of customer service with a major focus on marine conservation and education.

Donna pic VX
Diving bubbles dive centre pic