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Curated Travel That Leads You to Holiday Heaven

Mona Khalil and Rana Dababneh (Photo credit: Ruksana Hussain)

It’s such a rush when you think of that dream trip, so imagine what it’s like when you know you have some extraordinary bespoke tours to meet your every need waiting for you.

A Dutch study found the effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks. However, the only holidaymakers who felt more content after the trip were those who reported feeling “very relaxed” while they were on the vacation. And that’s exactly the feeling the owners of Pomalo Travel, a travel agency with offices in Dubai and Jordan, are working towards. Specialising in once-in-a-lifetime bespoke tours, all the legwork is done for you, so all you have to do is explore or unwind at your leisure, leaving lots of reasons to smile way after the holiday is over.

Photo credit: Ruksana Hussain

We chat to the company’s founders and sworn travel enthusiasts, Rana Dababneh and Mona Khalil, about the ins and outs of being dedicated travel designers of experiential itineraries. Having visited 18 countries and clocked 125,000 miles in the air last year alone, you can rest assured they know a thing or two about arranging the most memorable of vacations.

Why did you choose to call your company Pomalo?
‘Pomalo’ is a Dalmatian mantra, representing the coastal, island lifestyle and the general state of mind, which is renowned in Croatia, the birthplace of Mona. Pomalo was adopted to represent the feeling we’d like our clients to feel when venturing on one of Pomalo Travel’s trips, that being the entrenched philosophy of life suggesting a combination of: “easy,” “slowly,” “no problem”, or simply “relax.”

Vineyards in Chile

Which challenges did you face starting your bespoke travel company?
Leaving our previous careers was challenging, we both had successful careers, steady incomes and leaving that security was not an easy decision.  Yet, we believed in our ideas and capabilities. Looking back now, it was definitely worth it to follow our passion to travel and lead the way in curating experiential travel itineraries.

What do you focus on most when designing your memorable and tailor-made trips?
Everybody travels to take home memories. With this in mind we like to make sure our tailor-made trips are packed with the client’s travel wishes. Of course, we factor in budget, seasons and safety too.

Photo credit: Ruksana Hussain

Which kinds of special touches do you incorporate in travellers’ itineraries?
Prior to our travel searches, we meet with the client personally to get to know a little more about their personalities and their overall travel experiences. It is our way to get a good feel of how we can add that personal touch into the holiday of a lifetime. We like to make sure we know exactly what the client is expecting from a holiday. It is all in the little details, guests receiving their favourite beverage as a welcome drink, arranging a private dinner in the Louvre for a romantic proposal, or adding a little surprise element on the honeymoon.

Other than saving time, how do customers benefit from booking through you?
Through our networks, we know of experiences you cannot find on the Internet. We pride ourselves in the understanding and knowledge of the destinations and we are happy to share these first-hand experiences with our clients. The outcome of this is that our client’s are able to travel like a ‘local’ in upmost style, with memories to last a lifetime!

Photo credit: Ruksana Hussain

Do you have personal experiences in all the destinations you prepare for?
Yes, we do. Most of the destinations and locations we have reviewed and researched ourselves.

This means that we know first hand what it is like to experience cruising the Malay islands on a traditional sailboat, paragliding in the Himalayas or a romantic dinner near a secluded spring surrounded by ancient ruins in Mexico. On the odd occasion we haven’t visited a particular destination, we rely on our research partners from our travel networks, such as the industry’s most exclusive luxury and experiential travel networks, including: Pure Life Experiences, We are Africa and Traveller Made.

Horseback riding in the Andes

Tell us about some of your favourites and your suggestions for Middle Eastern travellers.
Rana enjoys the unbeaten path and to explore nature; Norway is a favourite for its raw nature, the diversity of activities and the unspoiled scenery. A little closer to home, Zanzibar offers calm and relaxation, as well as heritage and culture. Mona is captivated by Cambodia and New Zealand due to their natural highlights and deep-rooted traditions. Nepal is another favourite, where she loves interacting with local potters to discover the finer skills of pottery, plus learning the art of typical Nepalese fare with a Nepalese chef.

Do you have any interesting projects lined up for the future?
Mona will be hosting a 40-day trip to South America in March,2018. We would love to inspire others to travel like us, in which case this trip is dedicated to learning the Pomalo way of travelling, in turn enabling our guests to experience South America’s hidden gems and the finest of places.

We also arrange Women Only travel trips hosted by us. Last May, we went on a trip to Nepal and this year we are looking at some other places in which we would be excited to host small groups.

Our hosted trips are a safe and relaxing way for many to explore new destinations, as one of the Pomalo Travel team comes along to highlight all there is to discover. At the moment, the trips happen only once a year, although due to popular demand we are looking at increasing these.

Name three reasons everyone should travel once a year.
Absolute freedom, seeking peace of mind and ultimate discovery.

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