Elegant Resorts has bought travel agency Travel By Design as owners Irene and Kristina Hulme (pictured) announce their retirement.

The luxury tour operator will continue to run Travel By Design as a travel agency  with the same name and Abta number from its own Chester offices.

Travel By Design Group Limited was established in 1990 and will shut its agency in Alderley Edge on February 6.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, was officially completed on January 8 after the Travel By Design owners approached Elegant Resorts with a proposal to sell the agency.

Kristina Hulme, 70, will continue as a consultant until the end of March before officially retiring. She said: “We are really happy. Elegant Resorts is a sound company. I will miss our clients but we are proud the brand is continuing.”

Over the next few weeks there is a transition period during which three new Elegant Resorts staff – all former retail employees – start work at Travel By Design and work with the current owners to understand the business and its clients.

Elegant Resorts will take on all future bookings and its current client database.

In an official statement, the company said: “Travel By Design will operate within Elegant House, under the ownership of Elegant Resorts Ltd, and will not be a retail business in competition with any other travel agent. It will take on all future bookings, and the current database of Travel by Design, and will also
be used to process requests and bookings that Elegant Resorts receives directly, and cannot fulfil due to product or budget.”

Managing director Lisa Fitzell said the deal would allow the agency, which she described as Elegant Resorts’ retail arm, to continue to service existing clients as well as Elegant Resorts’ direct clients who are currently turned away because the operator does have the product or the price point they ask for.

She said: “A lot of our clients book lots of holidays with us but not every holiday.

“It might be some of our clients want a walking holiday that we do not feature and this gives us a way to offer these holidays to them. Elegant Resorts is pitched at the high end luxury market.

“Sometimes we have people who don’t want to go on a high end holiday and this gives us opportunities that we cannot currently offer.”

She added: “It’s not our strategy to compete with other agents. Travel By Design approached us; they have worked with us for years and we really understand their clients.”

Fitzell said the new Travel By Design agency would take bookings in its offices and by doing home visits to clients on an appointment basis. It will continue to sell the same range of tour operators.

“We want to keep going with the same operators they sell and complement us,” she said.

The new Travel By Design team will be managed by Sue Law and supported by Sandra Woodward and Sarah Edwards, who combined have 40 years travel industry experience

Fitzell added: “I would like to congratulate Irene and Kristina on
their extremely successful career and wish them a wonderful and fulfilling retirement.”