Meet William West, Our Winnow Co-Founder

Winnow August Images Q A William Header 3

William might spend most of his time amidst the relentless frenzy of London, where he works as a Senior Client Director for a luxury consulting group, but come rain or shine, his mind is pulled back to bright blue skies and the sound of the waves lapping on the shore.

Born and bred in Bermuda, William spends half his time in the British capital and the other half back home in Bermuda, also the first destination for Winnow, the new travel platform he launched with business partner Alison Swan.

An intrepid traveler for work and play, William feels lucky to be able to explore destinations where he has connections. “Knowing locals always makes a trip better because they have real insider knowledge and a network that allows them to make things happen,” he says. “Alison and I wondered how we could do the same for people who don’t necessarily have connections where they want to travel, so that they are able to have a more authentic experience.”

William West, Winnow Co-founder. Photo: Melanie of Fiander Foto

And it’s through these connections in their Bermuda circles that William and Alison came to meet. After several coffee meetings, they realized they were completely aligned on what they wanted Winnow to be: a platform at the crossroads of technology and lifestyle that would open up the hard-to-access insider element of a destination. “The idea is really to help empower and inspire travelers to book authentic experiences they might otherwise have a hard time finding.”

For me, traveling well is about intuition, being in the right place at the right time, but also going to the right restaurants, the right parties, with the right people.

William recalls a recent trip to Berlin with his partner. “We knew there was an art and food scene there waiting to be explored but we didn’t know how to uncover it,” he remembers. “For me, traveling well is about intuition, being in the right place at the right time, but also going to the right restaurants, the right parties, with the right people. That also means taking a chance and making mistakes, but in Berlin, it just felt like we were missing it because we hadn’t prepared enough for the trip.”

From Swim with green turtles $485 for 6 guests3 Hoursdiving with turtles to Explore the mangroves on a paddleboard or kayak $110 per guest2 Hourspaddling through mangrove forests, Winnow offers vacation experiences led by locals including art curators, surfers, chefs and beekeepers, who guide travelers to the heart of a destination. To wander through the beautiful visuals on the platform, is to immerse yourself in the splendor of Bermuda’s beauty. And before you know it, you’ve jumped online to search for the next available flight.

Shoot your vacation photos at sea. Photo: Melanie of Fiander FotoSee experience

For William and Alison, who are both from Bermuda, starting their platform of bookable experiences with this cluster of dazzling islands was a no-brainer. “At the time, I was looking to reconnect with home, with Bermuda, after living in London. It’s very special. It’s steeped in heritage, with a singular atmosphere and its natural beauty is incredible,” says William who grew up in a house close to the water, always full of guests. His connection to the island and its waters run deep, as his father and brother are charter fishermen, which is also in William’s blood.

Over the next year, William and Alison will be rolling out more content and insider experiences across several destinations in the United States, followed by Europe, but for the launch they chose to focus on Aspen as well as their beloved Bermuda. “Aspen felt right because it mimics Bermuda,” William says. “It’s not an obvious choice and more of a nugget that’s slightly off the radar; it’s also highly desirable and alluring in its own unique way.”

While they will be ramping up the offerings on Winnow, William knows it’s still early days. “The challenge is cutting through the noise,” he explains. “But Winnow is such a convenient service that works well for city-types who don’t always have a lot of time to prepare for their next trip. It gives you access to experiences you can just click to book, in turn freeing up time for travelers who would rather spend it with their family and friends when they arrive at the destination instead of running around trying to book things.”

With the plethora of options out there, planning your next trip isn’t always the pleasant experience you might think it’s going to be and can often turn out to be stressful. “Today, you tend to look at everything before you go away, but that can be a waste of time and energy, especially if you don’t quite know what you are looking for. And that includes social media – however, despite our dependency, there is a fatigue with it too. I think we are moving more towards travel lifestyle platforms with which we feel a connection to plan our trips.”

There are already lots of Bermuda and Aspen experiences available to book on Winnow, and there are plenty more in the pipeline for a highly functional platform that channels all the allure of an upscale trip that’s very easy to plan. And it’s in lightening the load of planning it all, of navigating the deluge of information, that Winnow scores points. Not only does it restore the shine and ease to traveling well, but it actually contributes to making it an exciting affair in these social media saturated, seen-it-all times, just as travel once was.

William shares his most unforgettable travel moment, the incredible event he wishes he could take credit for, and the place where he could quite happily live forever after. 

If you hadn't created Winnow, you would have...

Opened a flower shop. 

When you are traveling, you are stressed out if you don't have...

Interesting people around me and knowledge of the best things to do and see. 

You wish you could take credit for...

The Jacquemus SS20 runway concept - so cool, it blew my mind!  

Your most stand-out travel moment...

The wrapped piers by Cristo on Lake Iseo in Italy will always stay in my mind. Or an after-party at the fish market in Tokyo a few years back with my friend Tiffany. 

On your nightstand in your hotel room when you're on the road, we would find…

Two glasses of water, my Iphone, Dr Jart Ceramidin Gel Cream.

Your pet peeve when you're traveling…

Indecision - we don't have time to waste on other people making up their minds.

The word or phrase are you known for saying…

"You know..." 

The last song you listened to on your phone…

Only you by Yazzo to remember my wedding.

The app you use routinely…

I hate to say it but I live on WhatsApp and Instagram. Actually, Alison and I virtually run Winnow on Whatsapp. 

Your favorite Instagram account is…

@cupofmeat – their stories are my dream. 

Your Best meal is…

A birthday dinner with my husband, Josh, at Hunan in Pimlico. It was a 30-course authentic Chinese experience. We have been back three times but you always remember your first.  

The latest series you binged on was…

The Handmaid’s Tale on a flight to Bermuda. 

The item you can't travel without is…

All my moisturizers and a water bottle.

The top travel trend of 2019/2020 is…

I feel like people are going to be seeking out more difficult or obscure destinations, places that are not overrun by Instagrammers. 

Your absolutely favorite spot where you'd happily spend the rest of your life is…

The house I grew up in. Watch the sunset at a private beach house$150 per guest3 HoursIt has the best energy and is surrounded by water

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