James B. Sherwood (b. 1933) is the American-born businessman who built a shipping empire before becoming founder and Director of Orient-Express Hotels Ltd.
James was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania and grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, where his father William maintained a law practice. James studied at Yale University and earned a degree in economics in 1955, before serving for three years as a US Navy cargo officer. He then took up employment with United States Lines (USL), serving in various positions in France and New York. It was at around this time that the idea of transporting cargoes by sea in large steel containers was starting to take off. When James moved back to Europe in 1965, he established Sea Containers Ltd. in London in partnership with a Yale classmate and a mutual English friend from Paris, with the three of them providing the capital needed to start the new company.
Over 40 years, James expanded Sea Containers from a supplier of leased cargo containers, into various shipping companies, as well as expanding the company into luxury hotels and railway trains, including the Venice-Simplon Orient Express and the Great North Eastern Railway franchise from London, England to Edinburgh, Scotland. Orient-Express Hotels, founded by James in 1976, went on to own and manage 51 famous properties in 25 countries, such as the Hotel Cipriani in Venice, the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro, the Mount Nelson in Cape Town, Charleston Place in Charleston, S.C. and the Windsor Court in New Orleans and in addition the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and Eastern & Oriental Express tourist trains, '21' Club in New York City and the "Road to Mandalay" cruise ship in Burma.
In 1994, James was made the 15th honorary citizen of Venice since the founding of the Italian Republic in 1867, in recognition of his support of the arts and culture of Venice. He retired from Sea Containers and Orient-Express Hotels in 2006.
He was honoured by the British Travel & Hospitality Hall of Fame in 2009.