Artisans of Leisure is the leading luxury travel company specializing in exclusive, customized private luxury tours around the world. The company is known for its sophisticated and innovative tours, insider access, and in-house expertise with private guides, luxury tours, deluxe trips, bespoke travel.
The dramatic island of Capri has been a popular leisure destination since Roman times and makes for a fantastic day trip for travelers visiting the Amalfi Coast in Italy.
Artisans of Leisure arranges private tours featuring the best of the island, including seeing beautiful scenery, touring the historic highlights and time to shop and enjoy the outstanding local cuisine.
After journeying by boat from Italy’s mainland to Capri, our tours usually begin with an exploration of the hilltop town of Anacapri. Our guides take travelers to favorite places such as the historic Villa San Michele, an early 20th-century villa known for its extensive gardens adorned with antiquities and panoramic views of the island, and the Church of St. Michael, known for its hand-painted tile mosaic floors.
There’s also plenty of time to shop for upscale local specialties such as Capri sandals…
Elsewhere on the island, our tours visit the town of Capri, with time to explore its atmospheric backstreets and gardens, and indulge in its culinary highlights. Artisans of Leisure can also arrange a visit to renowned local perfume factory to learn about the local ingredients used to craft unique scents. Capri is also a wonderful destination for hiking, with the opportunity to enjoy privately guided hikes to our favorite scenic spots, gardens and ancient ruins.
Many travelers also want us to arrange a cruise through the glistening Blue and Green Grottoes, a series of sunlit sea caves, and past the Faraglioni, three jagged rock formations off the southern cost of the island, with time to enjoy swimming in the sea.
Upon request, Artisans of Leisure can arrange private yacht excursions to and around Capri for an exclusive experience of island, with the chance to also visit some of the region’s most beautiful coastal grottoes, beach clubs and more.
We’ll also make a lunch reservation at a favorite local spot to enjoy specialties such as handmade pizza and torta Caprese (chocolate and almond cake) or at an exclusive and romantic restaurant overlooking the sea.
Spring is a particularly magical time to visit Japan, one of our favorite destinations. Plum blossoms bring the first blush of spring to Japan in February, followed by the legendary sakura (cherry blossoms), which paint the country pink from the end of March through the beginning of April.
Kyoto is wonderful in any season, but there’s nothing like experiencing the ancient capital’s cultural highlights as the weather starts to warm up and the cherry blossoms blanket temples, gardens and hillsides with their pink profusion.
Spring is also a great time to venture deeper into the city’s traditional culture, hidden backstreets and off-the-beaten-path attractions. Artisans of Leisure arranges many extraordinary and exclusive experiences around Kyoto, including a private dinner with geisha entertainment, a private tea ceremony in an exclusive tea house, an ikebana lesson with a master, private martial arts lessons, sake brewery tours, a zazen meditation session at a Buddhist temple, hiking excursions, and insider shopping for traditional items such as ceramics, lacquerware, handmade paper, bamboo baskets, kimono, indigo textiles, tea accessories and antiques.
Contact one of our Japan travel experts to start planning a private Japan tour based on your interests.
Artisans of Leisure founder and CEO Ashley Isaacs Ganz recently returned from a family trip to Iceland, where she experienced the country’s most spectacular landscapes, local cuisine, interesting architecture and more. In this interview, read about her favorite experiences and what makes Iceland a fantastic family destination.
Q: Was this your first time visiting Iceland?
I had previously been to Iceland during summertime. This was my first time visiting during the winter — it was spectacular.
Q: What did you enjoy about being there during the winter?
The light was very dramatic, which made each location look totally different than during the summer months. Actually, each place looked totally different throughout the day because the light changed so frequently. It was absolutely gorgeous.
Q: What were some highlights?
Well, we landed and went straight to the Blue Lagoon from the airport. It was still quite dark since the sun doesn’t rise until mid-morning in Iceland during the winter months. My kids loved seeing the lava fields and geothermal steam on the way.
Soaking in the warm lagoon while the air was very cold and we were surrounded by snow-covered lava fields was so much fun—there was no mistaking that we were in Iceland!
It was a magical way to start the trip.
Q: That sounds amazing. What other experiences did you enjoy?
The Golden Circle is a classic day tour that’s beautiful and varied. My kids could see where the tectonic plates separate…
…tour local greenhouses to learn about agriculture in Iceland…
…soak in more outdoor baths…
…and see geysers…
…and enormous waterfalls.
Q: Where else did you go?
We traveled along the south coast, which is a highlight of Iceland, and for good reason. The scenery is breathtaking.
Since it was winter, the light changed constantly and bounced off the snow-covered volcanoes, all against the backdrop of black sand beaches and the sea. We were all mesmerized by the beauty.
Along the way, our guide took us to well known and lesser known spots to see the incredible highlights of the region.
My kids found it interesting to see the same basalt rock formations that we have seen elsewhere, such as Northern Ireland.
We visited local museums and learned about Icelandic folk traditions…
…lava and volcanoes in Iceland…
…and also visited Icelandic horse farms.
We saw a ton of hotels, of course, since I’m always inspecting hotels to see which I feel are best for our clients. The kids love sharing their opinions about which hotels they feel are the best–and why.
Q: Did you have a favorite region?
On this trip, I wanted to get out to Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon to see the icebergs and the ice tunnels that form naturally during the winter months.
We took a private super jeep excursion on top of a glacier.
It was a thrilling ride as our guide maneuvered over the terrain.
Harry Potter touring continues to be one of the most popular experiences for fans of the iconic book and film series visiting England and Scotland.
Harry Potter touring can be easily incorporated into any of Artisans of Leisure’s private itineraries in the United Kingdom.
A visit to the outstanding Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter located outside London is a must-see for a behind-the-scenes look at the work that went into creating the magical world of Harry Potter for the films.
Housed on the studio lots used for much of the filming are many of the original sets, props and costumes, as well as interactive exhibits that reveal the secrets behind the stunning visual effects used in the films.
Stroll through the Forbidden Forest, watch the animatronic Buckbeak in motion…
…climb aboard the Knight Bus…
…sip Butterbeer or have Butterbeer ice cream…
…peruse the shelves of concoctions and tinctures in the Potions classroom, and marvel at the Hogwarts Castle model of the magical school used for aerial shots of the grounds and buildings. Also see Privet Drive…
…Diagon Alley and the Hogwart’s Express.
Artisans of Leisure arranges VIP tours of the Harry Potter film studios for exclusive behind-the-scenes access and an in-depth look at the making of the movies.
Back in London, our private tours can incorporate Harry Potter highlights such as Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station to see where Harry and his friends boarded the Hogwarts Express and other city highlights featured in the movies, such as Millennium Bridge, Leadenhall Market, Piccadilly Circus, the Reptile House at the London Zoo and more.
The grand architecture in Oxford also provided the backdrop for many of the Harry Potter movies.
For Harry Potter fans, we highly recommend having us arrange a private excursion to the charming university town.
The dramatic and ornate Hall at Christ Church college served as the inspiration for the Great Hall in the Harry Potter movies.
We can also incorporate Harry Potter touring in Scotland. For example, Artisans of Leisure can arrange a ride on the famous Jacobite steam train, which crosses the thrilling 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct in the Highlands, an iconic bridge fans will recognize from the Harry Potter movies.
Additionally, many sites in Edinburgh, including the winding Victoria Street reminiscent of Diagon Alley, are said to have inspired different locales in Harry Potter while J.K. Rowling was writing the early novels in the Scottish capital.
Artisans of Leisure arranges customized private tours throughout England and Scotland. All of our tours include the best cultural touring and stays at top luxury hotels.
We can incorporate Harry Potter touring into any of our private England and Scotland tours.
Contact one of our travel specialists to learn more.
A wonderful way to experience Switzerland’s incredible scenery is aboard Swiss trains. Our luxury Switzerland tours feature privately guided day excursions on the most impressive mountain railways and funiculars, including the most scenic sections of the renowned Glacier Express train route.
An excursion by cogwheel railways to Jungfraujoch in the mountains of the Berner Oberland—one of the most iconic train trips in Switzerland—features spectacular views of high alpine peaks, towering waterfalls, UNESCO-listed glaciers, and typical Swiss mountain villages such as Wengen and Grindelwald.
Outside Lucerne is the renowned Pilatus Railway. The steepest cogwheel railway in the world, it climbs at a maximum gradient of 48 percent to the craggy top of Mount Pilatus, where viewing terraces overlook Lake Lucerne, Mount Rigi and other classic Swiss landscapes.
For some of the best views of the stunning Matterhorn, we arrange privately guided excursions aboard the Gornergrat Bahn mountain train. Starting in the village of Zermatt, the train climbs up to the hilltop terminus of Gornergrat, offering dramatic views of the Matterhorn, surrounding glaciers and the beautiful Matter Valley below.
The breathtaking Engadine, a region encompassing the resort towns of St. Moritz and Pontresina, offers many scenic journeys by train and cable car. One of our favorites is taking the funicular through a stone pine forest up the slopes to Muottas Muragl, where a hilltop restaurant offers unbelievable postcard vistas of mountains, glaciers, valleys and lakes.
Artisans of Leisure can combine scenic train rides in Switzerland with privately guided day hikes and scenic walks in the alpine landscapes. A highlight of such tours is enjoying local meals of rosti, fondue, sausages and other typical Swiss cuisine at charming mountain restaurants.
We also arrange rides on sections of the eight-hour Glacier Express route for travelers interested in experiencing the highlights of Switzerland’s most famous rail journey without spending all day on the train.
One of the most popular sections is the Rhaetian Railway’s spectacular Albula line between Chur and St. Moritz. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed route winds over high stone viaducts and through tunnels, passing picturesque mountain villages along the way. Another option is taking the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn on the breathtaking alpine route over Oberalp Pass (6,706 ft/2,044 m) between Andermatt and Disentis/Muster.
Our Switzerland tours typically include private transfers between destinations by luxury vehicle, but we can easily incorporate train rides on the Glacier Express, Golden Pass, Bernina Express and other routes as part of the journey. For longer rides, we also transfer luggage separately so you can relax and focus on the unforgettable views.
Contact Artisans of Leisure to start planning a customized private Switzerland tour that includes our favorite Swiss train rides.
Travelers visiting Barcelona or the Costa Brava region of Spain might like to have us arrange a private excursion to the Dali Theatre-Museum, a quirky celebration of renowned artist Salvador Dali.
The museum occupies the former municipal theater in Dali’s hometown of Figueres. The artist renovated the building interiors—which were heavily damaged during the Spanish Civil War—to showcase his work. On the outside, he added eye-catching details such as a large glass dome, whimsical eggs on the roof and bread sculptures on the walls.
Inside, the Dali Theatre-Museum displays one of the most diverse collections of Dali’s work, including his trademark surrealist paintings and various sculptures, installations, prints and photographs.
A highlight is the Mae West room, an installation based on Dali’s 1934 painting, Mae West’s Face Which May Be Used as a Surrealist Apartment. When viewed from the right angle, the objects in the room—including a sofa in the shape of red lips—align to reproduce the image in the painting.
Another installation is Taxi Plujos, an early-model Cadillac convertible with a mannequin driver and passenger. When visitors insert a coin, rain falls inside the car.
Palace of the Wind is a large ceiling mural that depicts the feet of Dali and his wife Gala.
Gala Nude Looking at the Sea Which at 18 Meters Appears the President Lincoln is a painting that shifts between images of Gala and Lincoln depending on the viewing distance.
The museum also exhibits work that Dali collected by artists such as El Greco and Marcel Duchamp.
Dali fans may also want to see the artist’s crypt, which is below the former stage, a fitting location for a master of dramatic flourishes.
Additional Dali experiences in Figueres include seeing Dali Jewels, an exhibition of jewelry designed by the artist, and dining at Restaurant Duran, one of Dali’s former haunts. Another option is visiting the Salvador Dali House Portlligat in nearby Cadaques.
A visit to Figueres and the Dali Theatre-Museum can be included in many of our Spain tours that include Barcelona. Contact an Artisans of Leisure Spain specialist to learn more.
Southeast Asia brims with buzzing metropolitan cities, fascinating historical sights and breathtaking natural scenery. However, few places have the quiet charm of Luang Prabang, the slow-paced cultural heart of Laos.
Set along the Mekong River, the town is filled with Buddhist temples, historic French colonial architecture, specialty craft boutiques and great restaurants.
Artisans of Leisure arranges immersive private cultural touring in Luang Prabang and the surrounding area that allows travelers to connect with Laotian and Buddhist culture.
Depending on your interests, we can arrange pre-dawn alms offerings to local monks, private hikes through forests to rural temples and hill tribe villages, private cruises along the Mekong River, tours of caves filled with Buddhist statues, visits to a renowned weaving center, and Laotian cooking classes.
Travelers can also enjoy the slow pace of local life in Luang Prabang by strolling or biking through the colorful streets and visiting UNESCO World Heritage-listed temples and other buildings.
Another highlight of Luang Prabang is staying at Amantaka, our preferred luxury hotel located in the heart of the historic town.
The exclusive luxury hotel is housed in a former colonial hospital with 24 spacious villas, many of which have private plunge pools. Amantaka provides an ideal base for private touring in and around Luang Prabang.
Artisans of Leisure arranges private tours in Laos and throughout Southeast Asia.
Contact one of our travel experts to plan a customized Asia tour based on your interests.
The Riviera Maya in Mexico is the ultimate destination for combining private cultural, natural and culinary touring with a quintessential luxury beach vacation. Artisans of Leisure’s private Mexico tours include the top luxury resorts in the Riviera Maya, most notably the Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa and the Rosewood Mayakoba.
A small resort with only 66 rooms and suites, the Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa is the perfect option for exclusivity and intimacy.
Every staff member greets you by name, waiters learn your preferences after the first meal and, at times, you may have the resort’s private beach to yourself.
The suites are spacious, and all have private terraces, giving guests the ideal amount of privacy for a romantic getaway or family vacation.
The Rosewood Mayakoba is another excellent luxury resort in the Riviera Maya. The location of the resort in a lagoon affords unique experiences, including checking in by boat.
On the property, guests can enjoy a 17,000-square-foot spa, three swimming pools, a beautiful beach, an excellent children’s activity center, an herb and vegetable garden and other facilities.
While the Rosewood Mayakoba is a larger resort, it still provides privacy, exclusivity and exceptional service. Each of its suites is nestled among mangroves and has a private plunge pool and 24-hour butler service.
In addition to first-rate accommodations, the Riviera Maya offers exceptional cultural touring, particularly of the region’s many ancient Mayan ruins. One of our favorite excursions is to the ruins in Tulum.
Perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, the site provides beautiful views and a picturesque backdrop for learning about the history of the walled fortress complex, which was one of the last cities to be built by the Mayas.
Nearby is the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, the largest protected coastal region in Mexico and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It offers a labyrinth of natural mangrove canals in which to swim and learn about the flora and fauna of the region.
The Riviera Maya region also has hundreds of beautiful cenotes, natural sinkholes that are typically filled with clear water. Our favorites are Gran Cenote and Cenote Dos Ojos. Visitors have the opportunity to see stalagmites and stalactites, as well as snorkel, dive and swim in the water.
Luxury boutiques abound in the towns of Tulum and Playa del Carmen, selling a variety of goods including jewelry, sundresses, local textiles, and beautiful bags and wallets made from the recycled leather of saddles used for horseback riding in the region.
The region has no shortage of good places to eat, including Playa del Carmen’s lively restaurant scene and Tulum’s fresh seafood options.
Additionally, both the Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa and Rosewood Mayakoba offer a wide selection of restaurants serving traditional local fare and international options.
Contact an Artisans of Leisure travel specialist to start planning a private, customized Mexico tour that features the best of Riviera Maya and beyond.
Visitors to Marrakesh, Morocco, are always enchanted by the city’s lively markets, atmospheric medina and outstanding luxury resorts. Not everyone knows that beautiful gardens are another unforgettable highlight of the city.
Perhaps most famous is Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Garden), a two-and-a-half-acre landscape garden planted by French painter Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and later restored by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, who took over the neglected property in 1980.
Unusual plants, several species of cacti, bamboo groves and a lily pond are interspersed with intricately tiled fountains and walkways.
The garden’s most vibrant feature is the bright blue building that was Majorelle’s (and later, Saint Laurent’s) villa and studio.
The newly opened Yves Saint Laurent Museum celebrates the designer’s work and life in Morocco and is located next to Jardin Majorelle.
Another favorite garden in Marrakesh is the Musee de la Palmeraie, a contemporary art museum and botanical garden with an Andalusian-style garden, a water garden and a cacti garden.
The botanist who helped Yves Saint Laurent restore the Jardin Majorelle created the garden and is a noted perfumer as well.
In addition to exclusive private touring at the Musee de la Palmeraie, Artisans of Leisure arranges private perfume-making experiences at the garden atelier, which utilizes botanicals grown on-site.
Many of Marrakesh’s most popular historic and cultural sights also feature outstanding gardens, such as the ornate pleasure gardens at Bahia Palace, a 19th-century palace built by the grand vizier of the sultan.
La Mamounia—one of our favorite Marrakesh resorts—is another great destination for gardens. In fact, the hotel is named after the 19 acres of grounds, which are called Arset El Mamoun.
Guests never tire of strolling among lawns dotted with orange trees, relaxing in the shade of olive and palm trees, and enjoying the color and fragrance of flower beds. Frequent visitor Winston Churchill regularly spent time painting in the gardens of La Mamounia.
Artisans of Leisure arranges exclusive private tours of Morocco’s most beautiful gardens. Contact us to start planning a customized tour that includes the best of Morocco.