Work hard, play hard – the saying has truly become a way of life in our city. But with long hours, hectic weeks, and even more tiring weekends (plus an amazing network of flights, courtesy of our home airline Emirates), Dubai’s residents are always looking forward to their next holiday, their next break abroad. If your nine-to-five job is more nine-to-nine and you struggle to find the time to plan anything longer than a trip to the grocery store – on a good day – Savoir Flair has news for you. Meet Whywander, a company founded in the Middle East by Reem Shaath, a self-proclaimed travel junkie with a passion for finding a city’s hidden gems.
When asked to describe what sets her offering apart from the thousands of travel guides and companies around, Shaath explains, “What we offer is not a ready-made package; we go beyond the regular ‘copy-paste’ tourist itineraries that we are bombarded with in the region. Our service is outside the realm of anything typical and, instead, offers bespoke travel experiences. We find out what the client is interested in, and we build around it. Obviously, budget plays a big role, but we can match whatever a client’s desires are with an experience. We also offer a concierge-type service as part of what we do, which means we’ll book restaurants and special experiences, source tickets to major sporting events, and much more.”
As part of the Whywander package, wanderers (who, according to Shaath, are a different breed of travelers) are equipped with a detailed guide to their city of travel. These have been six years in the making and include restaurants, things to do and see, and different experiences to try. The guides, which currently cover about 70 cities, are uploaded onto an app that also includes your trip itinerary – all conveniently accessible via your phone.
“The app also has a cool messaging feature between the client and Whywander. So let’s say the client is in Piazza Navona and has no idea where to eat, but doesn’t want to look at the guide on their phone, they can simply send a message through the app and someone from our team will reply with a recommendation,” explains Shaath. Whywander prides itself on designing itineraries around specific hobbies, whether that’s food, fast cars, a specific sport, or simply Instagrammable spots.
As for the coolest trip the team has ever organized? “It was a luxury hiking trip to Machu Picchu with two masseuses who would meet the clients after a long day of hiking in their tents to relax their bodies and get them ready for the next day. There was also relaxing music and a gourmet chef who would surprise them with delicious meals,” Shaath recalls. If you’ve been wondering what destination to cross off your bucket list next, perhaps this list of unusual places and experiences covered by Whywander will help you decide.
Black-Water Rafting in the Waitomo Glowworm Caves of New Zealand
"This is one of the most fascinating experiences we organize, during which you go into a cave filled with thousands of glowworms that are tiny creatures radiating luminescent light as you float on the water below."
Breakfast with Giraffes in Nairobi
"An unforgettable experience during which you get to have breakfast with giraffes as they roam the property around you, sticking their necks through the windows to be fed by you."
A Visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia
"The beauty of the national park lies in its 16 lakes, interconnected by a series of waterfalls and set in deep woodland that is populated by deer, bears, wolves, boars, and rare species of birds."
Swimming with Whale Sharks in the Philippines...
... or diving with great white sharks in South Africa.
A Tour of the New York Stock Exchange
"You'll be accompanied by a Wall Street financier to get insider access to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange."
Interested? Intrigued? Scratch that Google search and its impassable sea of results, and get in touch with Whywander, here.