In the growing category of short term rentals, there’s a platform for everyone these days—from Glamping Hub and Hip Camp to Getaway, Vrbo, and of course Airbnb. With a quickly increasing number of high-tech, luxurious smart home rentals spanning North America’s most beautiful natural landscapes, Wander is the newest kid on the block. And one of the most exciting for design lovers.
Founded in 2021, the vacation rental startup caters to well-to-do digital nomads looking for a comfortable escape (and/or place for remote work) in locations like Joshua Tree, Lake Tahoe, the Hudson Valley, and rugged Oregon coast. Though the company’s current portfolio of 14 owned and operated properties—with a handful more opening in 2023—is impressive enough, Wander hopes to differentiate itself among the increasingly crowded STR market with industry-leading technology and brand partnerships. By design, all Wander homes are located within a 2-hour drive of a major city, and thus 80% of the US population.
In addition to hotel-grade cleaning and 24/7 concierge services through the Wander App, each property features iconic fixtures and furnishings by partners Herman Miller, Knoll, and Design Within Reach, modern workstations complete with standing desks and panoramic displays, and bedding by NollaPelli. What’s more, to further elevate the guest experience, the Wander App can control home temperature, lighting, fireplaces, and on-site hot tub or sauna. Did we mention each property comes with a loaner Tesla for emission-free local adventuring?
The first Wander property to open in 2021 was the Anchor Bay House, perched atop a cliff on the Mendocino County coast. Since, the company has doubled down on California with notable properties in Yucca Valley, Truckee, and San Diego county, and opened two dramatic properties in Oregon (Bandon Dunes and Port Orford), too. The latter of which features a cantilevered glass house set atop a 200-foot cliff featuring a private hot tub, fitness equipment, and an optional private chef.
Expanding their footprint further east, Wander also hosts impressive modern homes in Arizona, Colorado, both North and South Carolina (including a beach house fit for 22 people), Florida, and New York.
As New Yorkers ourselves, we’re partial to the recently opened Wander Hudson Woods, located just north of NYC. Inspired by Pierre Koenig's iconic LA Stahl House, the home features floor-to-ceiling windows and in-ground pool overlooking the distant Catskill mountains.
Led by entrepreneur John Andrew Entwistle, Wander is moving full steam ahead with lofty goals of growing its portfolio of smart home rentals both in terms of numbers and location—its first Canadian property is expected in 2023 with further global expansion expected thereafter. To date the company has turned to existing real estate for its properties, purchasing and updating existing contemporary homes and sprawling estates, though Wander may explore building their own in the future.
For those interesting in becoming more than just guests, Wander’s Membership program provides early access to new properties, among other perks. Mre interestedly, the unique investment initiative Atlas offers individuals the opportunity to own a piece of the company and earn passive income from the booming vacation rental market.
For now, Wander remains a niche rental platform for a specific audience, although it's business model–in some ways innovative, and in some ways a repackaged version of a rental company like Vacasa–might just challenge rental monoliths like Airbnb. Over the years, platforms like Plum Guide and even AirBnb Plus have popped up to provide reliable, luxury retreats for visitors, but none quite so driven by smart home technology and guest ownership. Only time will tell how the market responds.
Wander’s 14 vacation homes are now available to rent, with rates starting at $350/night.