Unique lifestyle experiences best taken with Lime & Tonic

The Life: Tariq Sanad, managing director of Lime and Tonic Dubai, says he specialises in creating memories.

Tariq Sanad is the managing director of Lime & Tonic Dubai, which recruits members for memorable lifestyle events. Razan Alzayani / The National
Powered by automated translation

Tariq Sanad specialises in creating memories.

A former financial manager, the 32-year-old native of Bahrain says it also makes business sense.

So, after nine-and-a-half years with the US consumer goods company Procter & Gamble in Dubai, Mr Sanad decided to take the plunge.

Within six months of meeting the home team of the Prague-based company Lime & Tonic, he liked the idea of packaging and selling unique lifestyle experiences so much that he invested his money in its global operations. And opened a Dubai office last September.

For instance, "you can have your afternoon tea watching polo at a 140-acre polo ground in Dubai for Dh130 [US$35] per person," says Mr Sanad, who is the managing director of Lime & Tonic Dubai. The service at the Desert Palm hotel is otherwise reserved only for guests at the facility. It is easy to compare companies such as Lime & Tonic with daily deals websites, but Mr Sanad is reluctant to do so. Focusing on social and individual experiences designed exclusively for members, Lime & Tonic is already expecting expansion in Abu Dhabi and beyond in a few months.

Along with Mr Sanad, hotel chefs designed most of the top-selling packages. These include a Secret Gourmet Supper Club outing at an art gallery in Dubai for Dh260 per person, a seven-course degustation lunch at Vu's Restaurant on the 50th floor of Jumeirah Emirates Tower for Dh750 per person, and dim sum and tea tasting at Hakkasan Restaurant at Jumeirah Emirates Towers for Dh200 per person.

In Dubai, Lime & Tonic has more than 4,500 registered members, and Mr Sanad's office records about 30 new members daily.

It is free to register and the company makes money by charging commission fees to participating hotels and restaurants. Even long-time Dubai residents have signed up to explore new places and activities through Lime & Tonic, and as gifts for their guests. The members are also rewarded with points that can move them into the top membership level, where they receive access to exclusive packages.

Currently the Prague-based enterprise has a staff of about 15 members spread across its London, Slovenia, Rio de Janeiro and Sydney offices. It has registered sales of about €1.77 million (Dh8.6m) globally since the start of its operations in February 2011.

About 20 merchants in Dubai have signed up knowing they can convert some Lime & Tonic members into repeat customers.

They can make up to Dh20,000 each through the bookings for each experience, says Mr Sanad. The Dubai office is doubling its sales month to month.

"I liked that they sell only unique experiences," says Arne Silvis, the general manager of Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa, one of Lime & Tonic's first merchants.

Al Maha offers early morning falconry, nature walks and dune driving activities besides spa and pool packages that include lunch at the hotel. "They also trained all my key members on how to handle bookings from their website as well as back office accounting." The hotel gets about 20 bookings a month through Lime & Tonic, and Mr Silvis says 10 per cent of the members have gone on to book weekend or extended stays at the hotel.

This year, Lime & Tonic expects to expand to 10 cities globally, including Abu Dhabi. For Dubai and Abu Dhabi combined, Mr Sanad's office has set a sales target of Dh1.8 million this year.

He plans to donate 10 per cent of the total revenues on each experience from his Dubai office to local charities such as Dubai Autism Center on a quarterly basis.

The entrepreneur says he never doubted the feasibility of the Lime & Tonic model in Dubai.

Last March Mr Sanad came across Stefan Cordiner, a co-founder and chief executive of Lime & Tonic, and learnt the team is looking for a partner in Dubai.

By September he had invested about $150,000 in the company's global operations and an office in Dubai downtown with a three-member team, including himself.

"I am very passionate about Dubai," says Mr Sanad.