- Cressida Meale
You arrive in a foreign country solo, with no plan and an open mind. You leave with an abundance of new connections, maybe a few wild nights spent in a haze of starlit adventure, and memories no photography can ever come close to capturing. Sound good? Then read on dear friends, read on.
Travel. Or ‘travelling in style’ to be specific – it’s something we all spend approximately 7.25 hours per day thinking about, along with fitting into that dress, waking up with Gosling, being the one that everyone wanted to talk to at a party, and not needing foundation. However, whilst a post-coital “Hey Girl” is rather unlikely, the trip opportunities of a lifetime have just been blown wide open.
Introducing: ASMALLWORLD – your passport to global exploration, the best night you never planned and a total escape from reality. A pretty sweet deal if you ask us. Sabine Heller, CEO of ASW as well as longstanding dotcom force to be reckoned with, says of the proposition: “It’s a combination of privileges and the human layer, I would say more than anything what we want to give our members is a sense of belonging, wherever they go.”
With the brand new re-launch of the site this week, this once invitation only, and now subscription based, members club is lighting up our global horizons like a flare on a clear night.
With a strong background in fashion, having worked with brands such as Gucci and the GILT Group and as continuing editor at large for Purple Magazine, Sabine Heller has what could be underestimated as a good eye and flair for the aesthetic importance of ones surroundings.
Starting her career in an Internet company in 1998, Heller says she was “in the right place at the right time… I had the benefit of falling in love with this new media, and working with it as I learnt to use it.” When discussing the effect of digitalisation on the ASMALLWORLD brand, she says: “It’s both a space, and a tool… It allows [our members] to create trusted relationships with each other.”
The premise of ASMALLWORLD is “to put together the social and travel experience.” With an average four weeks of holiday to our names per year, isn't it about time you take your nose out of the guidebook and actually look around you as opposed to memorising the route from hotel to the main square? That’s ASW in a nutshell. “It’s allowing for the unexpected. The element of surprise. Serendipity,” says Sabine.
“I think from a societal point of view there’s an assumption that people should be hooked up in more than one city.” Heller goes on to explain: “Now there’s an expectation to say that ‘I have friends in New York, in Paris, in Istanbul’ – and the reality is a lot of people don’t.” Simply visiting these places isn’t enough anymore, it’s all about the experience; the lesser known bars and secret passages that enrich and ultimately feed the desire for the different, a utopian ideal if you will. Hanging with the locals will always beat hanging with the tourists hands down; as Sabine reinforces, people are yearning for “that interaction that allows you to have adventures when you go to another city, or to fall in love.”
They say the best nights are the ones that just ‘happen’. Planning, or a pedantic view of it, can keep your life distinctly 2D, but career a little off the rails or proverbial beaten track and there is an everglade of unadulterated experience to embrace. Heller says: “People approach new things with a certain amount of trepidation, but when you force yourself into a situation when you’re alone and you want to meet a bunch of people, it usually ends up being so much fun.”
“People are tired of going to cocktail parties,” she continues, “when you introduce travel into the mix you can really push boundaries.” And as if further persuading was required, all ASW members are given a week’s stay for them and a guest at a luxury resort in St Kitts, the hipper, meteorically rising in reputation sibling to St Barts in the Caribbean, “and it is not shabby” testifies Heller.
So for the woman who has, in actuality, sailed by candlelit riverboat and stayed with over 400 other guests at a genuine Maharaja’s palace in India as part of a standard ASW getaway, who would make the ideal travel-mate? Odysseus, of course. “He understood the value of the journey” and as Heller puts it, “that’s a pretty exciting thing to offer.”