A family-run luxury travel business, sisters Charlene and Cathy launched CharlotteJames (the joint namesake of their mother and father) almost two years ago, and since then, they’ve not looked back.
Offering exclusive travel – from private jets and yachts to luxury residences and unique itineraries – CharlotteJames strives to create meaningful experiences allowing clients to learn and understand more about the world and themselves.
The idea of CharlotteJames first presented itself when Charlene and Cathy were on holiday. “Cathy and I were skiing a while back,” Charlene explains, “and a good friend was talking about taking a private jet to a sporting event. Inevitably, we started talking about how we would do that – and in that moment we decided to launch our own travel design company.”
Curating exceptional travel experiences is nothing new for the CharlotteJames sisters. They had a rich, cultural upbringing living in Italy, Japan, the Middle East and America, before Cathy found love and settled in London, while Charlene moved to Honolulu where she developed the Luxe Travel Hawai’i brand. Combined, they have over thirty years of experience developing extra-ordinary travel journeys and servicing the elite.
Charlene recently made the move to Austin Texas after three decades in Hawai’i, which she describes as a major undertaking. But the city’s palpable energy and cultural scene is something her family are very excited for. Still, despite living and working in different time zones, launching CharlotteJames has brought Charlene and Cathy even closer together.
“You don’t very often see sisters working together in a business, but it’s been such a joy,” says Charlene, “Having a foot in each continent works really well from a business point of view; it allows us to cater to requests almost 24 hours a day. But on a personal level, I get to see Char more; we talk every day and we love what we do. It’s special,” Cathy adds.
Their warm, personal approach is something that they’ve brought to the heart of CharlotteJames. Cathy explains, “No matter the reason for travel, for families or for brands, the essence of our business will always remain the same: we place people first.”
Unlike most businesses, they have purposefully chosen not to have an online presence. “We want to offer real discretion to our clients and grow organically by word of mouth,” says Cathy. “We believe in this market, it’s the best way to do it.”
“We are really selective about who we work with,” continues Charlene. “We have a combination of corporate and leisure clients who we love, and so really enjoy putting together amazing experiences for them to create memories that will last a lifetime.”
Before producing any itineraries, Charlene and Cathy will personally meet with their clients to truly find out what will make their travel journey a “haute couture experience”. Cathy tells us about a couple who have just returned home from celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary with a safari experience in Kenya. They also have a number of clients travelling to Japan later this year for the Rugby World Cup.
Another holiday recently planned was for two ladies who are in business together and travel extensively. “They are very much interested in artisanal products and how they are made,” Charlene says.“We designed a cultural trip for them to Vietnam and Cambodia, with highlights that include visiting mat weaving villages, breaking bread at a local’s home, and hearing traditional folk songs performed by villages. They will also hike to one of the most amazing temples and have the temple to themselves for as long as they like.”
Alongside business as usual, Charlene and Cathy are working on expanding their corporate incentives offering with some exciting projects lined up, including collaboration with a young and gifted vintner to curate a bespoke travel itinerary for his wine club.
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