Living in the high mountains in Norway in 1993, some 900 m/2700 f with snow around me most of the year, the sought for summer, sun, swimming and getting to know a new culture and meet new friends grew rapidly. We lived in a very tiny village with only 300 people, and I didn`t have the friends to ask to join me. My husband was far away dedicated to his job; hotel director onboard one of the luxury cruise vessels for up to 6 months at a time. I was settled in our mountain home with our two small kids, age 5 and 7 at this time. I dreamed of a vacation with daily workout, social gatherings with other females, sightseeing, restaurants – all at a great hotel in southern Europe with sun, summer and a warm and temping Mediterranean. None of the travel agents I contacted could present me such a program, either for both genders or for ladies only. Well, I thought, I am not so different – if I look for this it must me many other women who want the same.
I called a tour operator and asked what I needed to do, to book a private group on one of their charter flights. 15 paying customers would give me my free vacation was the answer, same day I pre booked those seats to southern Turkey. For ladies! The program was put together on a type writer, copied 20 times at the local post office and put in the mailboxes to some of my few neighbors. And… next morning I had 7 bookings! Hurray!
I was at this time 35 years old, had worked as a tour leader for 3 years, managing director for a sports hotel for 3 years, and had also worked onboard a cruise ship for 3 years with only first class passengers onboard. So I was well experienced in the travel business, had at that time visited more than 100 countries and really loved to travel. I knew what women would appreciate for a marvelous vacation!
The first Vilja Travel week went to Turkey April 1993; the week was exciting and just as I and all my 15 guests had dreamed about. I had at this time no thoughts of continue this work. But – on the flight home – after 8 days in summer paradise and more fit then when we left, one of the ladies said; “- Charlotte, this has been the best vacation ever and I like to do this every year. I will be your regular costumer!” So this gave me the business idea and guts to make it my own business and create exciting vacation weeks for ladies. It all started with 1 tour in 1993, and now almost 30 years later we offer some 200 different travels worldwide. All tours with different theme; biking, hiking, workout, body & soul, yoga, culture and a few responsible travel destinations. The business has grown with the word of mouth.
I am honored for all the lessons I have learned, all the people I have met, all the destinations I have learned to know and most of all – all the ladies that keeps traveling with us.
And now – in the special year of 2022 – we are aiming to be the most special incoming operator in Norway. The last two years has thoughted us a lot. Best of all how beautiful our own country Norway is, and how wonderful and special it is to explore. With this we love to invite you as an abroad working tour operator to connect with us, be a partner of Vilja Travel and together we can give back so much to the world; fellowship, friendship, wider horizons, knowledge all with sustainability in mind. Tours made by ladies for ladies – you know; Happy wife is a happy life!
Vilja Travel, Norway