If you haven’t spotted already, Saltee loves to travel. Destined to explore the world, discover new places, make amazing memories. It’s what we live for. We also love making new friends along the way which is why we were very excited to discover Studio Wanderwell, a boutique luxury travel company creating incredible time off. Based in the UK, they design bespoke holidays and trip itineraries filled with your personality.
We’ve been chatting with Founder and Personal Travel Designer, Sarah Bentall to find out all about Studio Wanderwell and the inspiration behind the brand. Plus, expert advice on holiday booking for this year.
How does Studio Wanderwell aim to inspire those who love to travel?
I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love to travel, but for so many people the reality of everyday life means that organising a holiday becomes another item on the ever growing to do list rather than something to look forward to! Time off is precious, so we aim to take away the stress and hassle of creating a trip by doing it all for you so that all you have to do is get excited. That sounds like a luxury, but it doesn’t have to be – working with us doesn’t make trips more expensive but it does add value because we supercharge trips with unique experiences that you couldn’t access if you did it all yourself.
We can see how important it is to really understand your clients. How do you build that relationship to create the perfect getaway?
You’re absolutely right! Relationships are absolutely at the centre of everything we do. Travel is incredibly personal, and we really believe that you can only create the perfect trip once you understand the unique emotions and feelings that people attach to their travel experiences.
We make it our mission to get to know all our travellers inside and out, listening to their priorities and really understanding what makes them tick. We offer everyone a complimentary consultation before we get to work, and once we’ve built up a picture of what their dream trip looks like, we work with our vast network of contacts across the world, in every corner of every city and country to make that dream a reality.
We know we’ve got it right when they get home relaxed and buzzing and immediately ask us where to go next!
Saltee gets so excited about that pre-holiday planning. Which part of the planning process is your favourite?
All of it! That’s why I do what I do! But if I had to pick one, I would say it is the part when we know the destination and I start working with my trusted partners to design an amazing itinerary and incredible experiences to bring their trip to life.
I also love the big reveal of an itinerary to travellers and seeing their surprise and delight. It’s like giving your best mate a gift you know they’ll love – it’s that same fuzzy feeling of knowing that what you’ve chosen is going to make them really happy!
What’s your personal favourite memory of a trip away?
Gosh there have been many! But if I had to pick one, it would be our trip to Colombia where I spent my 30th birthday with my husband and our friends. Colombia is awesome! I spent my actual birthday river tubing, and celebrating on the beach with a private dinner complete with the biggest lobsters I’ve ever seen. The city of Cartagena on the Caribbean coast is an explosion of colour with an incredible food scene, everything we saw and ate was an Instagrammer’s dream. Luckily for us this was in the days before Instagram and smartphones so we just lapped it all up for ourselves in the moment!
How have you adapted to staying at home during the last year?
It’s been such a strange time, and like so many people, it’s forced a real mindset shift for me. I’m a person who likes to have a plan, and likes to be one step ahead at all times and that’s been impossible this past year! So, I’ve tried to take each day as it comes a bit more and to appreciate what’s on our doorstep. We live in central London and seeing my daughter scooting down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace on Christmas morning is an amazing memory that will forever stick!
What travel destinations are on the top of your bucket list?
I’m desperate to go on a ranch holiday to Montana! I try and go riding wherever I travel as it’s such a natural and amazing way to see a country. I always think of the people throughout history who have ridden the same paths. I’m also trying to plot a trip to Bequia in the Caribbean…it’s a lesser known island in the Grenadines and I love the idea of beautiful boutique hotels that are close to local towns so you can get the relax factor, but also soak up the local culture and cuisine a bit too. Not to mention the white sandy beaches! Slightly closer to home, the Burgundy region of France is high on my list as we’ve been drinking a lot of their wines during lockdown!
What are your favourite UK staycation destinations?
I’m a Derbyshire girl, so there’s a special place in my heart for the Peak District. There are some gorgeous little villages such as Hartington and Hathersage and while its only 3 hours from London, it feels like a different world with endless space away from the crowds. It’s become a real gastronomic hotspot in the last few years too – there are some amazing farm-to-table restaurants and delis and farm shops serving local produce. For some fresh sea air, I also love Blakeney in Norfolk – head there in July for samphire season and don’t forget your crabbing net!
Are you planning any trips later this year? And where will you be headed?
Absolutely! I can’t wait to get out there again. I’ve got a few trips up my sleeve – as soon as Italy opens its borders, we’ll head out to Lake Como where we have family connections. Later in the year we’re planning to take our kids to Mauritius for some autumnal sun. In November I’ve got a trip to Tanzania planned to explore the game lodges of the Serengeti (all in the name of research of course!)
What are your top 3 travel tips for planning the perfect escape?
Don’t try to plan it all in one day
When you start planning a trip it’s tempting to book the first place you like the look of, and to try and tick off the other aspects of your trip as quickly as you can. Creating the perfect trip takes time and rushing it doesn’t do justice to the wealth of experiences out there that are waiting to be discovered. If you have time to plan, take it (or better still, get us to plan it for you!)
Be wary of what you find online
The internet has opened up the world for travellers, but it’s also created pitfalls, and you need to know how to navigate those. That intimate hotel room? It’s not big enough to swing a cat. That hotel with great access to the best sights? It’s right on the side of a motorway. The best way to make sure that your holiday is the one that you dreamed of, is to work with someone who has trusted connections on the ground, with the inside scoop.
Prioritise people not things
So many people take a huge suitcase full of stuff on holiday, but you always need less than you imagine. Aside from the essentials of a bottle of Saltee to protect your skin and a good book, the things you take on holiday don’t create relaxation and experience, the people do. Instead of buying that third pair of sunglasses at the airport, spend your holiday budget on a local guide to show you parts of a country you couldn’t access yourself, or getting a private chef to create a feast on the terrace of your holiday villa for you and your friends.
How do you aim to help those looking to put travel back on their agenda for late 2021?
There’s so much pent up demand for holidays right now, but the pandemic has created so many uncertainties around travel that many are afraid to take the leap and make a booking. I want to give people the confidence to get out there again. Now more than ever it makes sense to work with someone who understands the special nuances of travel in today’s world, someone who can negotiate flexible arrangements. We want to work with our clients to knock it out of the park and deliver a spectacular experience without them having to worry about a thing!
Discover more about Studio Wanderwell here.