When VIPs come to Dubai, they call James Boothe
James Boothe is the founder and GM of the Earl James Group, a travel and tourism agency in Dubai that specialises in bespoke trips and special experiences. He draws on more than 15 years of experience working in events and hospitality in the UAE and London to source everything from yachts to watches, and penthouses to private dining rooms. Here, he reveals the wish-lists of his clients.
Are your clients hard to please?

They’re very particular! They know what they want and it’s our job to not only deliver but exceed their expectations. This way we ensure regular repeat business as well as referrals from their associates. Ultimately, it’s about the most invaluable commodity we all have, which is time. With our services, the client can just show up and know that every aspect of their trip has been well thought out, ensuring they leave Dubai with fantastic memories.

Staying safe: Yacht charter has become particularly popular during the pandemic.
Who are your clients typically?

The majority tend to be male, high net worth individuals aged 25-40, from the UK and mainland Europe, mostly from sports and finance backgrounds. We also get female business owners and corporate executives arranging large mixed groups.

Do your clients pay a fee for your service, or do you offer a subscription service?

Our fees are already incorporated into the booking to make it as hassle-free as possible for the client, I find this works better than a subscription service.

The man who can: With 15 years in the wishlist business, Boothe knows how to source exactly what you want.
What restaurants are requested most often?

Places like Zuma, Opa, Nammos, and Twiggy are popular. We often arrange prime-time bookings at sold-out restaurants for large groups, private dining room hire, and especially last-minute bookings.

What about beach clubs?

The most memorable was when a client wanted to sail on a 120ft yacht from Dubai Marina to a beach club with 20 friends. We organised the yacht hire, on-board catering, and finishing touches, including a VIP reception and table at a beach club.

Where do your clients like to stay?

It varies. Some want a serviced studio apartment while others want four-bedroom hotel penthouses with multiple adjoining rooms for up to two months. We’ve seen a big increase in longer stays since 2020. Jumeirah al Naseem, Mandarin Oriental, and Address Sky View are hotels on the hot list for our clients.

Do you book sports events?

Horse racing at Meydan was a popular choice pre-Covid. We now find that people favour smaller, more intimate experiences rather than large-scale events.

Do you help them with shopping trips?

We source hard-to-find gifts and customised items, mostly for our international clients. We get a lot of requests for custom diamond jewellery from the likes of Cartier while watches from Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Richard Mille are requested most often.

The Earl James Group handles everything from liaising with the retail teams to personalised delivery of the item to either the client or the lucky recipient
What special experiences are top of the list?

Most international clients like to incorporate yacht rentals into their Dubai stay and everyone seems to love the fine dining experiences that Dubai has to offer. City tours and desert excursions are also very popular.

What was one memorable experience you arranged?

I remember a client proposing to his girlfriend on a yacht with a sushi delivery to the yacht out at sea – nothing is impossible, especially in Dubai.