April 23, 2014

Zippori Archaeological Site, Israel

Clients who recently returned from Israel sent us these photos of the spectacular mosaics they saw at the Zippori archaeological site in the Galilee.

ZipporiOngoing excavations at Zippori have revealed the site’s many layers of history, from a Roman administrative capital in the first century B.C. to a busy Jewish religious center and, later, a Christian community.

Zippori Israel tourAmong the ruins are an acropolis, theater, mikvah (ritual bath), Crusader-era fortress and houses.

Zippori Israel tourHowever, the highlights of Zippori are the mosaic floors, including a rendering of the zodiac inside a sixth-century synagogue and a depiction of a woman called “the Mona Lisa of the Galilee” uncovered in a Roman villa.

Zippori Israel tourTouring Zippori and other important archaeological sites with an expert archaeological guide can be incorporated into many of Artisans of Leisure’s private tours of Israel.

Tags:  archaeological site, archaeology, Israel, Israel tours, mosaics, ruins, Zippori archaeological site

April 16, 2014

The New Faberge Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia

Faberge Museum Russia

Image courtesy of The Forbes Collection

Travelers who appreciate the finest craftsmanship will be happy to know that Artisans of Leisure arranges tours of the outstanding Faberge Museum, which recently opened inside the restored 18th-century Shuvalov Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The museum contains more than 1,500 objects crafted by the legendary Faberge workshop, including the nine imperial eggs once owned by The Forbes Collection in New York.

Visit our website to learn more about visiting the museum on one of our luxury private Russia tours.


Tags:  art, design, Europe, Faberge Museum, museums, Russia, Russia tours, St. Petersburg

April 2, 2014

Top 10: Favorite Breakfasts around the World

We always enjoy experiencing how different cultures approach the most important meal of the day. Here are a few of our favorites:

Museum Hotel Turkey1.) Breakfast at a cave hotel in Cappadocia, Turkey
We love sitting on the hotel terrace and taking in views of the fantastical rock formations of this beautiful region while eating a classic Turkish breakfast, including fresh Turkish pita, cheeses, yogurt, olives, and tomato and cucumber slices.

2.) Room service in Paris, France
Pure decadence: ordering delicious chocolate croissants, fresh bread, berries and French cheeses and enjoying the meal in a luxurious room in one of the best hotels in France, such as the Four Seasons George V.

ryokan breakfast3.) Breakfast at a ryokan (traditional inn) in Japan
Staying at a ryokan (traditional inn) is a cultural and culinary highlight of any trip to Japan. One of our favorite ryokan experiences is lingering over a traditional in-room Japanese breakfast of rice, nori, grilled fish, eggs, tofu, pickles and miso soup served on gorgeous ceramics and lacquerware.

4.) A Proper English breakfast in London
Before a busy day exploring London, we indulge in a proper English breakfast of strong tea, homemade baked beans, roast tomatoes, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, eggs and granary bread (as well as contemporary options such as fresh fruit smoothies, pastries, polenta with greens, and scrambled eggs with salmon), often while sitting in the breakfast room at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and watching the Queen’s Royal Horse Guards trot by en route to Buckingham Palace.

5.) One of the legendary breakfast buffets in Israel
Breakfast buffets in Israel are elaborate affairs and filling enough to hold you over until dinnertime. Before starting touring for the day, we make time to enjoy the tables overflowing with sesame breads, baklava, halvah, hummus, olives, feta, yogurt, pickled vegetables, babka, stewed fruits, cakes and more.

6.) A lazy breakfast overlooking a piazza in Florence, Italy
We love sitting at one of Florence’s famed cafes and enjoying local specialties, including frittatas, panini, and—we confess—even chocolate cake and coffee for breakfast.

Mexico huevos rancheros7.) Huevos rancheros anywhere in Mexico
Whether we’re on the terrace at an upscale Mexican beach resort on the Riviera Maya or in the courtyard at the urban Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City, we like to order a glass of fresh-squeezed juice and a plate of huevos rancheros (corn tortillas, fried eggs, cheese and salsa).

Breakfast in Egypt8.) A typical Egyptian breakfast
In Egypt, we recommend eating breakfast as the locals do: ful medames (stewed fava beans with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and spices) accompanied by yogurt, cheese, falafel, stuffed bread, fruit and condiments.

9.) Freshly baked pastries in Buenos Aires, Argentina
A historic cafe in Buenos Aires is our favorite place to savor medialunas—Argentina’s version of the croissant—with a side of dulce de leche and a cup of cafe con leche.

Breakfast in Bali10.) Sweet and savory favorites in Bali, Indonesia
There are endless delicious breakfast options in Bali, whether it’s banana pancakes at an expat cafe or more traditional fare, such as nasi goreng—an Indonesian breakfast of fried rice with chilies, shallots, garlic, chicken, sweet soy sauce, fried egg and other ingredients. Or, keep it simple and enjoy the abundant fresh fruit (watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe, strawberries, mangosteen, rambutan, passion fruit and salak, or snake fruit) with citrus mint yogurt and lime at a luxury resort overlooking the sea or terraced rice fields.


Tags:  Africa, Argentina, around-the-world, Asia, Bali, breakfast, culinary travel, Egypt, England, Europe, food, foodie tours, France, global food, global meals, hotels, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Latin America, luxury travel, Mexico, Middle East, South America, Turkey

March 14, 2014

Cherry Blossom Season in Japan

Japan toursCherry blossom season is a wonderful time to be in Japan. Starting around mid-March in most of the country, the pale pink sakura flowers burst open in a shock of color that signals the end of winter and the start of spring.

It can be surprising how widespread cherry trees are in Japan until you witness firsthand the great expanses of pink flowers lining boulevards, carpeting parks, and punctuating the grounds of temples and shrines at this time of year. Japanese come together in many of these places for ohanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties with friends, eating and drinking while sitting under a canopy of the five-petaled flowers.

Cherry blossoms last only a couple of weeks. Over time, the wind loosens the petals, which drift to the ground like a light pink snowfall, a romantic display the Japanese call hanafubuki (flower snowstorm).

KyotoThe ephemeral beauty of cherry blossoms has been celebrated in traditional Japanese culture for centuries, inspiring countless songs and works of art. This time limit also means that many Japanese eagerly anticipate the arrival of cherry blossoms each year. In fact, the Japanese news media follow the “cherry blossom front” as it moves across the country from the warmer south to the cooler north, making sure that viewers are aware of when the sakura will be at their peak in each region.

Many of our clients travel on our private Japan tours at this time of year to experience the festive cherry blossom season in Kyoto, Tokyo, Kanazawa, Nara, Miyajima, Hakone and other popular destinations. It’s a very busy travel time in Japan, so it’s best to book your tour as early as possible if you want to experience one of Japan’s most wonderful annual traditions.

Tags:  Asia, cherry blossom season, gardens, Japan, Japan tours, luxury Asia tours, luxury Japan tours, nature

February 20, 2014

Exclusive New Sicily Tours for Foodies, Culture Lovers and More

Luxury Sicily ToursLunch with a duchess in her seaside palazzo. A private cooking lesson with a renowned Sicilian cookbook author. Meeting a member of the Italian royalty and touring her exquisite Mediterranean garden. These are a few of the exclusive culinary and cultural experiences included in our all-new 2014 private Sicily tours.

The tours define the best of Sicily’s culture, cuisine and style, and offer our travelers insider access to the most interesting people, places and experiences on the island.

Other special interest activities include private wine tasting at renowned vineyards, archaeologist-led tours of ancient ruins and other UNESCO sites, street food tours in Palermo’s markets, naturalist-led four-wheel drive tours on Mount Etna, private yacht excursions, visits to local farms and olive oil estates, touring the Baroque cities, watching sea salt harvesting, researching family history, and shopping for high-quality ceramics and jewelry.

Private Sicily toursArtisans of Leisure’s 2014 private Sicily tours include:
A Week in Sicily
Highlights of Sicily
Luxuries of Sicily
Journey Through Sicily
Garden Tour of Sicily
Culinary Tour of Sicily

Artisans of Leisure can also customize tours to combine Sicily with mainland Italy, Greece and other destinations in the region.

Click here to view a slideshow featuring Artisans of Leisure’s style of travel in Sicily.

Visit the Artisans of Leisure website to view our recommended private tours, or contact us to start planning a customized tour.

Tags:  art, Baroque cities, beach resorts, cooking, cooking classes, culinary tours, Europe, family travel, farms, food, garden tours, gardens, Greece, Italy, Italy tours, luxury, luxury Sicily tours, luxury tours, Mediterranean, Mt. Etna, ruins, Sicily, street food tours, UNESCO, wine

February 13, 2014

Must Try: Private Yoga Lessons When Traveling

If you love yoga, or if you have always wanted to try yoga, consider incorporating it into a private tour.

Hanoi yoga lessonArtisans of Leisure can arrange expert-led private yoga sessions in many of our destinations, including a sunrise session among ancient ruins in India, one-on-one lessons at spa retreats in the Himalayas, a beach side yoga lesson in Mexico, or a private lesson at a park or temple in Vietnam.

Hanoi_YogaWe also can arrange customized, private tours focused entirely on yoga, such as our Ayurveda & Yoga Tour of India.

Tea Trails_Summerville-lawnWe arrange private sessions with yoga masters in destinations such as Thailand, Bhutan, Mexico, Bali, Australia and at spa resorts throughout Europe.

Ananda_YogaThese sessions are ideal for travelers and practitioners of all levels.

Contact Artisans of Leisure to find out how we can incorporate yoga into your next international tour.

Tags:  active travel, Artisans of Leisure, Asia, Australia, Bali, Bhutan, Cambodia, Europe, Himalayas, India, Indonesia, luxury tours, luxury travel, Mexico, private yoga lessons and tours, spa, spa retreats, spa tours, spas, Thailand, yoga, yoga lessons, yoga tours

January 25, 2014

Read the latest Artisans of Leisure luxury travel newsletter

Thailand toursThe latest Artisans of Leisure newsletter is now online. It’s full of inspiring travel ideas and photos, including:

Where Do You Want to Go in 2014?
- A few of the dream destinations our travel advisers are hoping to visit this year

Exclusive Thailand in Photos (slideshow)
– A slideshow of some of our favorite places and experiences in Thailand

Consider Chile (slideshow)
– The best of Chile, featuring travel photos taken by Artisans of Leisure travel specialist Leah Reilley

From Our Travelers: A Private Tour of India & Bhutan (slideshow)
– Photos from recent Artisans of Leisure travelers in India and Bhutan

The Best of Germany: All New Tours
- We’ve updated our private Germany tours for 2014

In the Press: Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and Travel + Leisure
- Our latest media accolades

Switzerland: A Sophisticated Winter Wonderland
- Switzerland is a perfect luxury getaway in the winter or any time of year

Click here to read the complete newsletter online.

Click here to subscribe to the Artisans of Leisure newsletter.

Artisans of Leisure is a luxury tour operator specializing in comprehensive, luxurious, private tours in Europe, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Africa and South America.

Call (800) 214-8144 to speak with one of our travel specialists, or contact your preferred travel agent.

Tags:  Artisans of Leisure, Asia, Bhutan, Chile, Europe, Germany, India, luxury tours, luxury travel, newsletter, photos, slideshows, Switzerland, Thailand

January 8, 2014

A Winter Getaway to Zurich and St. Moritz

Artisans of Leisure travel specialist, Sonja Stoerr, recently returned from a winter getaway to Zurich and St. Moritz, Switzerland. Based at the luxurious Dolder Grand and Badrutt’s Palace hotels, Sonja enjoyed the best of both cities. Here are a few favorite places and experiences from her trip:

Dolder Grand HotelThe Dolder Grand is the perfect luxury retreat in Zurich. We love the light and space of the rooms in the contemporary wings. Many have fantastic views over the city, Lake Zurich and the Alps in the distance.

fondue in ZurichAn unforgettable meal at one of Zurich’s best fondue restaurants. Perfect for sharing!

AltstadtA walk through the narrow streets of Zurich’s Altstadt (old town) is a great way to spend an afternoon.

Swiss cookiesFirst stop…Cafe Felix for some sweets and pastries by Teuscher, one of Switzerland’s most renowned confectioners.

glass shoppingZurich is excellent for shopping. Many boutiques and specialty shops line the pedestrian-only streets of the old town.

Christmas decorationsSwitzerland’s festive Christmas markets, which typically run from late November through December, are a wonderful winter experience.

Christmas market ZurichWarming up with a delicious gluhwein (mulled wine) at the Christmas Market.

ZurichThis father and daughter were selling Grittibaenz, a sweet brioche bread loaf baked in the form of a man. It’s a traditional holiday treat for celebrating St. Nicholas Day in December.

racletteWhen in Switzerland, it’s always easy to eat more cheese! This time, it’s Raclette melted over potatoes and served with a side of cornichons and pickled onions.

SprungliEnjoying the cafe culture of Zurich with a coffee and Luxemburgerli cookie at Confiserie Sprungli on the Bahnhofstrasse.

Dolder GrandThe Dolder Grand has an incredible spa, as well as heated outdoor whirlpools that overlook the city, lake and mountains.

food in SwitzerlandA five-course dinner and wine pairing at The Dolder Grand’s Michelin two-star restaurant. Absolute perfection.

St. MoritzNext, we were off to St. Moritz, a resort town in the Swiss Alps that hosted the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics. We traveled on the legendary Glacier Express train through dramatic mountain landscapes.

Badrutts PalaceAffectionately called “The Palace” by the locals, historic Badrutt’s Palace is the place to stay for a luxurious getaway in St. Moritz.

Sonja in St. MoritzSonja enjoyed the pleasant weather and sunshine on the veranda at Badrutt’s Palace. St. Moritz has over 300 days of sunshine per year!

Badrutts PalaceThe lobby area of Badrutt’s Palace, also known as “the living room of St. Moritz.” It’s a place to see and be seen.

St. Moritz luxury hotelThe Madonna by Raphael adorns a wall in the hotel library.

strudelApple strudel at Chesa Veglia, a restaurant run by Badrutt’s. It’s in an atmospheric old farmhouse next to the hotel.

skiingThe highlight of a stay in St. Moritz during the winter…incredible skiing! We loved having our own private ski guide from Badrutt’s help us navigate the best pistes at Corviglia, a ski mountain located directly behind the village.

ski lunchSkiers and non-skiers alike can enjoy a gourmet lunch and incredible mountain views at Mathis Food Affairs, a chic and upscale restaurant headed by celebrity chef Reto Mathis. Easily accessed by funicular from St. Moritz, the restaurant is high on the ski slopes of Corviglia.

dessertApres-ski dessert at Mathis.

St. MoritzWalking off the pounds gained from our indulgent Swiss meals with a scenic walk around Lake St. Moritz…

luxury ski shopping…and window shopping in town to see the latest trends in ski fashion.

fondueOur grand finale meal in Switzerland: a private “food safari” through the many dining venues of Badrutt’s Palace. First, we visited the wine cellar with the head sommelier to taste local wines paired with a Champagne risotto. Then, we walked through the kitchens to the formal dining room where the main course was served. We ended with…

bonbons…a behind-the-scenes visit to the pastry kitchen with the executive pastry chef.

St. Moritz ski toursThe stunning view from our room at Badrutt’s Palace as the sun sets over St. Moritz.

Switzerland is a wonderful destination any time of year. Contact us to start planning a private Switzerland tour.

Tags:  active travel, Artisans of Leisure, Badrutt’s Palace, chocolate, Christmas Markets, Dolder Grand, Europe, Europe tours, fondue, food tours, Glacier Express, gourmet restaurants, holiday travel, hotels, luxury hotels, luxury Switzerland tours, restaurants, shopping, ski tours, ski vacation, skiing, Switzerland, Switzerland tours, trains, wine tours, winter getaways, winter travel