Travel website Wonderlust was originally scheduled to launch in the fall of 2016. But just like a trip to a remote destination can sometimes gather additional hours and extra baggage, it is only today that the site is live. At the URL WONDERLUSTtravel.com.
“We simply weren’t ready,” Guccione Jr. tells Fishbowl. “The site wasn’t good enough and I didn’t have all the people I needed with me yet. I also dramatically underestimated the learning curve for translating the principles of print journalism–which I’ve kept intact–with the execution of digital media.”
The editorial team for WONDERLUSTtravel is compact. Under the leadership of executive editor Luke Barr is managing editor Camilla Paul, Style editor Liza Lentini, Art editor Micah Rubin, European editor Lucia Gillot and staff writers Jim Greer, Matthew Thompson. Another staff writer, Victoria Gilbert, is not yet full-time.
“We’ve stayed good friends ever since,” says Guccione Jr. of Barr, who edited his magazine Gear in the 2000s. “After Gear closed, he went to work with Travel & Leisure and when he left there I asked him to join up with me. He’s a brilliant editor and a very, very intelligent man.”
The site is being exclusively sponsored, through the beginning of October, by American Express Platinum. As part of the partnership, there will be six co-branded pieces about business travel, starting with a first piece posting today. Coincidentally, WONDERLUSTtravel.com arrives on the heels of Vice’s new partnership with Airbnb. At the opposite end of that is Guccione Jr.’s ongoing series “Hotel Ninja,” which takes pride in making sure an assigned reporter does not reveal prior to their visit that they are checking out the place for a luxury travel site.
“The site will definitely have a touch of irreverence to it,” Guccione says. “I like to say that WONDERLUST is both reverent and irreverent.”
It’s most definitely seductive. The home page is full of teases that are almost impossible to pass up, right down to Danish supermodel Mathilde Goehler’s promise to show readers around “My Denmark.” Another launch feature that caught Fishbowl’s eye is “10 Travel Questions With Mario Batali.”
“Food was always a major part of the composition of the site,” Guccione Jr. confesses, “and Mario is a friend and we have collaborated before. He’s a superb writer, a poetic and thoughtful one and I hope he finds time to write more for us. Food and Style will be the next biggest areas of coverage and reporting after travel in general.”
If WONDERLUSTTravel.com on the smartphone feels like a handsome print magazine you might pick up and page through at a destination such as Positano, St. Moritz or Cairo, that was part of the plan. “For me, both print and digital are first and foremost about the principles of storytelling,” explains Guccione Jr. “That’s the heart of WONDERLUST–storytelling. Every story must reference the human condition. Otherwise it’s merely an aggregation of data.”