Our Travel Experts

Our travel experts have spent years living and traveling abroad, visiting compelling sights (those well known and those off the beaten track), comparing luxury hotels and room categories, and establishing relationships with local tour guides, chefs, artists, and hotel general managers. We share our intimate destination knowledge with our clients, who benefit from an extensive network of connections, privileges, and arrangements already in place.

Ashley Isaacs GanzAshley Isaacs Ganz

The founder of Artisans of Leisure, Ashley is an expert in all of the company’s tour destinations. She is passionately committed to providing authentic travel experiences, sophisticated recommendations, and an extremely high level of luxury and personalized service. Born and raised near Philadelphia, Ashley has also lived in Australia, Japan and England. When she travels, Ashley is particularly interested in culture, cuisine, the traditional and decorative arts, and family travel. Read more about Ashley in our Company Background.

Favorite tours:
Favorite hotels:
  • Aman Tokyo (Japan)
  • La Mamounia (Morocco)
  • Hotel Caruso (Ravello, Italy)
  • Ballyfin (Ireland)
  • George V, Paris (France)
  • Claridge's (London)
  • The Oberoi Amarvilas (India)
  • Burj Al Arab (Dubai)
  • Park Hyatt Tokyo (Japan)
  • Castiglion del Bosco (Tuscany, Italy)
  • Villa d'Este (Lake Como, Italy)
  • Grand Hotel Timeo (Sicily)
  • Four Seasons Chiang Mai (Thailand)
  • Four Seasons Florence (Italy)
  • Four Seasons Budapest (Hungary)
  • Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park (London)
  • Gleneagles (Scotland)
  • Grand Hotel Stockholm (Sweden)
Favorite museums:
  • Victoria & Albert Museum (London)
  • Benesse Art Site (Naoshima, Japan)
  • Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam)
  • National Museum of Rome (Italy)
  • Museo Dolores Olmedo Patino (Mexico City)
  • Marianne North Gallery (London)
  • Sintra Palace, Portugal
  • The Egyptian Museum (Cairo)
  • Russian Museum (St. Petersburg)
  • Istanbul Modern
Favorite dining experiences:
  • Shojin ryori (vegetarian Zen cuisine) in Kyoto
  • Indian Accent (Delhi, India)
  • El Cardenal (Mexico City)
  • Afternoon tea in London
  • Dar Yacout, Marrakesh
  • Da Delfina (near Florence, Italy)
  • Maroush II, London
  • Breakfast at Four Seasons Jumeirah Beach, Dubai
  • Dining on mezzes while overlooking the sea in Tel Aviv (Israel)
  • Meinl's Restaurant (Vienna)
Favorite excursions:
  • Traditional neighborhoods in Kyoto (Japan)
  • Highgrove House, England
  • Villandry and gardens in Loire Valley (France)
  • Villa del Balbianello (Lake Como, Italy)
  • Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
  • Sintra, Portugal
  • Eastern Bali villages and festivals (Indonesia)
  • The pyramids (Egypt)
  • A private cruise on the Bosphorus (Istanbul)
  • Birr Castle (Ireland)
  • Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Iceland
Best shopping:
  • Liberty in London, Svenskt Tenn in Stockholm
Favorite cities: London, Tokyo, Marrakesh, Jaipur, Rome, Istanbul, Kyoto, Paris, Mexico City, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Sydney

John McGee John McGee

John loves experiencing local cultures. Wherever he travels, he seeks out traditional and contemporary art and architecture, visits museums, wanders city streets, hikes, meets local people, turns an ear to local music, scours markets for what’s typical to locals but unusual to visitors, forages for local food and drink, and buys lots of books. Originally from California, John has also lived in Copenhagen, Edinburgh and Tokyo. He has traveled extensively and intensively throughout most of Asia, Europe and New Zealand, large parts of North America, and a bit of Africa. Recently, John has spent considerable time in New Zealand, Poland, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Ecuador & Galapagos, Switzerland, South Korea, Sri Lanka, the Baltic States, Taiwan, Norway, Nepal, Peru, Jordan and Kenya.

John has a BA in studio art from Occidental College and an MFA from Art Center College of Design. While living in Tokyo for six years, John wrote a weekly art column for Japan’s leading English-language magazine. He has also contributed articles on art, cuisine, shopping and travel to “Time Out” guidebooks, Art in America, Art+Auction, Four Seasons and many other publications.

Favorite tours:
Favorite hotels:
  • Llao Llao Hotel & Resort (Argentina)
  • Blanket Bay (New Zealand)
  • Hacienda Zuleta (Ecuador)
  • Benesse House (Japan)
  • Bauer Il Palazzo (Italy)
  • Amanjiwo (Indonesia)
Favorite dining experiences:
  • Al fresco lunch at a winery (New Zealand)
  • Private dinner at a Palladian villa (Italy)
  • Fresh soba, tofu and sake (Japan)
  • Fresh mushroom dishes (China, Poland)
  • Fresh oysters, venison and lamb (New Zealand)
  • Grilled steak at an estancia (Argentina)
  • Lunch at a historic hacienda (Ecuador)
  • Cheese tasting in northern Spain
Favorite Artisans of Leisure experiences:
  • Private wine tasting in Mendoza (Argentina) and Hawke’s Bay (New Zealand)
  • Flying over the Southern Alps and Milford Sound (New Zealand)
  • Horseback riding in the Andean highlands (Ecuador)
  • Touring less-visited temples at Angkor (Cambodia)
  • Seeing inside historic wooden churches in Poland
  • Experiencing the cultural history of Toledo (Spain)
  • Hiking with a private guide in Patagonia
  • Private gameviewing safaris in Africa
  • Touring contemporary architecture in Tokyo
Favorite places:
  • Japan, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, the Galapagos Islands, Patagonia, Taiwan, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Beijing, Yunnan (China), Kenya, Potsdam (Germany), northwest Argentina, and the Ecuadorian Andes

Stephanie DoschStephanie Dosch

Originally from Seattle, Stephanie lived in Madrid, Spain for six years before moving to New York. Stephanie first went to Madrid to earn her master’s degree in Spanish from Middlebury College, but she became enamored of the city and stayed, working as a tour guide and a travel blogger and writer. Living in Spain allowed Stephanie to travel extensively in Europe, both as a guide and on her own. Memorable experiences include hiking in the Swiss Alps; biking through Amsterdam; eating her way through the Basque Country; riding a hot-air balloon in Cappadocia, Turkey; boating through Sicily’s Aeolian Islands; sampling port wine in Portugal’s Douro Valley; and soaking up the sun on Menorca’s wild and secluded beaches.

Stephanie’s lifelong birding hobby has also taken her around the world, from the llanos of Venezuela and Mayan ruins of Belize to the Ghanaian bush and Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater. She even dragged her Spanish husband on birding outings during their honeymoon in Southeast Asia. When traveling, Stephanie loves trying local dishes; hunting for treasures in markets; wandering through interesting neighborhoods; and visiting museums and art galleries. Her most recent trips have included Dublin, Basque Country, Sicily, Amsterdam, Innsbruck, San Sebastian, Bangkok, Cambodia, Vietnam, Mexico, Japan, India, Dubai and the UAE, Australia, Peru, China, Chile and Ecuador.

Favorite tours:
Favorite places:
  • Istanbul
  • Sicily
  • Cambodia
  • Lisbon
  • Menorca
  • Bayonne, France
  • Nicoya peninsula, Costa Rica
  • Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti, Tanzania
Favorite neighborhoods:
  • Kadikoy, Istanbul
  • Belleville and Canal St. Martin, Paris
  • Malasaña, Madrid
  • San Temo, Buenos Aires
  • Trastevere, Rome
  • Jordaan and Western Islands, Amsterdam
  • Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin
Favorite sites:
  • Great mosque, Cordoba, Spain
  • Basilica cistern, Istanbul
  • Arc de Triomphe, Paris
  • Angkor temples, Cambodia
  • Chester Beatty Library, Dublin
Favorite museums:
  • National Gallery, London
  • Pergamon Museum, Berlin
  • Guggenheim Bilbao
  • Bargello, Florence
  • Museo Cerralbo, Madrid
  • Mauritshuis, The Hague
  • Fine Arts Museum, Saigon
  • MNAC, Barcelona
Favorite Dining Experiences:
  • Pintxos in San Sebastián and Logroño, Spain
  • Risotto at Antico Arco, Rome
  • Le Quartier Francais, Franschhoek, South Africa
  • Vegetable garden cooking at Treintaitres, Tudela, Navarre, Spain
  • Cannoli in Sicily
  • Suckling pig, Segovia, Spain
  • Chez Sophea, Angkor, Cambodia
  • Street food tour by Vespa, Saigon
Favorite Shopping:
  • Boquería Market, Barcelona
  • Marché aux puces, Paris
  • Grand bazaar, Istanbul
  • El Rastro, Madrid
  • The Kasbah, Tangier
  • Via del Governo Vecchio, Rome

Mike KornMike Korn

From the time Mike dressed as a pilot for career day in first grade, he has known that travel would be a huge part of his life. The pinned-on wings quickly evolved into a desire to meet new and interesting people from around the world. Mike’s first international love affair began in Europe. He was immediately smitten with the yellow trolleys of Lisbon, the soul of Barcelona and the pastries of France. After traveling throughout Europe and the Middle East, he led Birthright trips through Israel, fully strengthening his affinity for travel. A native New Yorker, Mike graduated with a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Vermont.

Mike is a food and action-adventure enthusiast: There’s no activity he won’t try, no sport he won’t watch and no food he won’t eat. Some of his favorite experiences include bike riding through a small Portuguese town at midnight, watching Nelson Mandela’s funeral from a cafe in Soweto (Johannesburg), watching the World Cup with locals in Marrakesh, swimming in the Dead Sea and hot-air ballooning in Cappadocia.

Since 2016, Mike has been listed as one of Conde Nast Travelers Top Travel Specialists for his expertise in Morocco and Portugal. Mike lives in New York City with his wife Amy, son Asher and dog Norman.

Favorite tours:
Favorite hotels:
  • Dar Alham (Skoura, Morocco)
  • Six Senses (Douro Valley, Portugal)
  • The Peninsula (Paris, France)
  • Lion Sands Ivory Lodge (Sabi Sand, South Africa)
  • The Norman (Tel Aviv, Israel)
  • Katikies Hotel (Santorini, Greece)
Favorite places:
  • Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Florence, Italy
  • Marrakesh, Morocco
  • London, England
  • Alentejo region, Portugal
  • Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Zermatt, Switzerland
Favorite sites:
  • Any food market or food hall (Borough Market in London, Mercado da Ribeira in Lisbon, Mercato Centrale in Florence)
  • Quinta da Regaleira (Sintra, Portugal)
  • Erg Chebbi sand dunes (Morocco)
  • Catacombs of Paris (France)
  • Sentiero Azzurro (Azure Trail) (Cinque Terre, Italy)
  • Western Wall (Jerusalem, Israel)
  • Goreme (Cappadocia, Turkey)
  • Parc Guell (Barcelona, Spain)

Maria MerrillMaria Merrill

Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Maria made the most of every school-sponsored trip or family vacation growing up. It wasn't until studying abroad in Florence, though, that her love for independent and culturally immersive travel really took off as she was able to travel expansively through Europe.

Maria has lived in Italy, Spain, and Mexico, and she has traveled extensively through Europe, India, Nepal and Mongolia, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Colombia, South Korea, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Estonia and many other countries and many other countries.

Maria graduated from Boston University and has loved putting her people (and hospitality) skills to the test in a variety of locales around the world. She loves the outdoors and always tries to include camping, hiking, canoeing or other outdoor activities in her travels. Additionally, because her father read her ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythology rather than more typical bedtime stories, she takes a special interest in museums and sites encompassing the ancient history and folklore of a destination.

Favorite tours:
Favorite hotels:
  • The Norman in Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Amanzoe in Porto Heli, Greece
  • Padaste Manor on Muhu Island, Estonia
  • Casa San Agustin in Cartagena, Colombia
  • Four Seasons Gresham Palace in Budapest, Hungary
  • Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa in Riviera Maya, Mexico
  • Sofitel Legend Old Cataract in Aswan, Egypt
  • Alila Jabal Akhdar in Jebel Akhdar, Oman
  • Villa d'Este in Lake Como, Italy
  • Inverlochy Castle in Fort William, Scotland
Favorite places:
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Lake Myvatn, Iceland
  • Tallinn, Estonia
  • Florence, Italy
  • Cadaques, Spain
  • Gyeongju, South Korea
  • Oaxaca, Mexico
  • Tayrona National Park, Colombia
Favorite dining experiences:
  • Sunset dinner at El Farallon in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
  • Fresh buffalo mozzarella appetizer and pizza at Il Pizzaiuolo in Florence, Italy
  • Seafood paella from 7 Portes in Barcelona, Spain
  • Tibetan momos from a street stall in Dharamsala, India
  • Sampling Korean street food in Busan
  • Tasting coffee at a private coffee farm in Colombia
  • Home-cooked pozole with a local family in Oaxaca, Mexico
Favorite experiences:
  • Hiking through geothermal and volcanic terrain in Iceland
  • Whitewater rafting in Nepal
  • Exclusive evening tour of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo with an expert Egyptologist guide
  • Hiking with a nature specialist through Tayrona National Park, Colombia
  • Witnessing an aarti ceremony during a sunset boat ride on the Ganges in Varanasi, India
  • Stargazing in the Negev Desert, Israel
  • Walking the Vasari Corridor in Florence, Italy
  • Touring the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and Joint Security Area (JSA) at the border of North and South Korea
  • Helping a nomadic family in Mongolia herd their cattle
Favorite sites:
  • Delphi, Greece
  • Monkey Temple in Jaipur, India
  • Castle District in Budapest, Hungary
  • Musee d'Orsay in Paris, France
  • Ephesus, Turkey
  • Bayanzag (Flaming Cliffs), Mongolia
  • Tivoli City Park in Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Salvador Dali House in Portlligat, Cadaques, Spain
  • Frida Kahlo Museum (Casa Azul) in Mexico City
  • Tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens in Egypt
  • Gran Cenote in Tulum, Mexico

Sara CoxSara Cox

Growing up in Colorado and Arizona, Sara and her family traveled every summer to national parks around the Southwest. Sara’s global travels began on her Semester at Sea in college, during which she visited 11 countries in eight weeks. After graduating with a B.A. in International Relations & History from the University of Iowa, she moved to New York City and has continued to travel abroad whenever possible.

Favorite experiences:
  • Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru
  • Safari in Namibia’s Etosha National Park
  • Shopping in Hong Kong
  • Hiking fjords in Norway
  • Scuba diving the sunken city of Baiae in the Gulf of Naples, Italy
  • Sailing around Boracay in the Philippines
  • Walking the city wall in Dubrovnik, Croatia
Favorite culinary experiences:
  • A gnocchi cooking class in Positano, Italy
  • Dinner cruise on the Nile River, Egypt
  • Fish market in Bergen, Norway
  • Dim sum in Hong Kong
Favorite sites:
  • Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
  • Blue Grotto in Capri, Italy
  • Phuyupatamarca in Peru
  • Deadvlei in Namibia
Favorite hotels:
  • Claridge’s London
  • Villa San Giacomo in Positano, Italy
  • Riad Fes Morocco
  • Aman Tokyo
  • Four Seasons Moscow
  • Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea, Jordan
Favorite tours:

Peter CatesPeter Cates

The mountains, lakes and cities of East Tennessee fostered Peter’s love of adventure. His first major international experience at age 14 included time in Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Since then, he’s added another 25 countries, and he still can’t get enough. Some of his favorite experiences include exploring the souks in Marrakesh, sailing through the British Virgin Islands, spending two weeks in a monastic community in Central France, biking around the bay of Kotor, dog-sledding in Quebec, exploring markets in Luang Prabang, and hiking on the coast of Crete.

Peter studied French and English rhetoric and writing at the University of Tennessee. He has had success as a researcher, poet, playwright and columnist. His research and publications have taken him around North America, and his love of literature allows him to travel the globe even when he’s at home. When his head isn’t in a book or the latest edition of the New Yorker, you can find him working in his pottery studio. He finds artistic and creative communities to be a unique point of access into every city he visits. His adventures are fueled by a love of culture, language, and, most of all, people.

Favorite restaurants:
  • iLatina, Buenos Aires
  • Cau Go, Hanoi
  • Limoni, Marrakesh
  • Sahrap, Istanbul
  • Vy’s Market, Hoi An
  • Chanrey Tree, Siem Reap
  • Fleur de Sel, Normandy
Favorite museums:
  • MALBA, Buenos Aires
  • Musee d’Orsay, Paris
  • MoMA, New York
  • Istanbul Modern, Istanbul
  • Musee de la Photographie, Marrakesh
  • National Art Gallery of Bulgaria, Sofia
Favorite experiences:
  • Laguna de los Tres hike in El Chalten, Argentina
  • Bosphorus cruise in Istanbul, Turkey
  • Hammam in Fez, Morocco
  • Learning about Jewish history in Germany
  • Taize Monastery in Lyon, France
  • San Fermin Festival in Pamplona, Spain
  • Samaria Gorge hike in Crete, Greece
  • Hungarian baths in Budapest, Hungary
  • Motorbike street food tour in Saigon, Vietnam
Favorite cities:
  • Hoi An, Vietnam
  • Bern, Switzerland
  • Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Paris, France
  • Luang Prabang, Laos
  • Kotor, Montenegro
  • Budapest, Hungary
Favorite sites:
  • Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey
  • Tanneries in Fez, Morocco
  • Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • Bear sanctuary along the Aare River in Bern, Switzerland
  • Iguazu Falls in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina
  • The Vatican
  • The Citadel in Hue, Vietnam
  • Linderhof Palace in Bavaria, Germany
  • Westminster Abbey in London, England
  • Jungfraujoch in the Berner Oberland, Switzerland

Claire YearwoodClaire Yearwood

Originally from New Orleans, Claire left the Deep South in her teens for boarding school in England and has been traveling extensively throughout Europe ever since. In addition to nine years in the UK, she has also lived in Italy, Switzerland, and New Zealand.

Some of her favorite experiences so far include seeing the prehistoric Font-de-Gaume cave paintings in the Dordogne; hot air ballooning in Marrakesh; dog-sledding in Norway; exploring Mayan ruins in the Tikal jungle, Guatemala; visiting Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny; hiking in the Dolomites; horseback riding in the South Island, New Zealand; browsing ceramics in Deruta, Umbria; and attending ballet performances at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London. When possible, she visits Daunt Books in Marylebone, London for literary travel inspiration. As well as always hunting down the best cappuccino wherever she travels, she is particularly interested in fine art and culinary experiences.

Claire has a master’s degree in Fine and Decorative Arts from Christie’s (London) and a PhD in Art History from the University of York. She has given art history talks and academic lectures in various places including The National Gallery, London and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Claire lives in New York with her Kiwi husband and son.

Favorite hotels:
  • The Belmond Caruso, Ravello, Italy
  • Chateau de Vault-de-Lugny, Burgundy
  • The Four Seasons, Florence
  • Relais Borgo Santo Pietro, Chiusdino, Italy
  • Ksar Char-Bagh, Marrakesh
  • Babington House, Somerset, UK
Favorite museums:
  • The National Gallery, London
  • The Wallace Collection, London
  • Kelmscott Manor, Oxfordshire UK
  • The Rodin Museum, Paris
  • Villa Borghese Gallery, Rome
  • Frida Kahlo Museum, Mexico City
  • The Uffizi, Florence
  • Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Favorite dining experiences:
  • Mudbrick Vineyard, Waiheke Island, New Zealand
  • Dar Yacout, Marrakesh
  • La Tour d’Argent, Paris
  • Afternoon tea at Claridge’s, London
  • Mas de la Chassagnette, Arles, France
  • Le Volpi e L’Uva, Florence
  • Áperi, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
  • Daylesford Organic Farm Café, Cotswolds, UK
Favorite places:
  • London, UK
  • Grasmere, English Lake District
  • Assisi, Italy
  • Marrakesh, Morocco
  • Ravello, Italy
  • Antigua, Guatemala
  • Bethells Beach, New Zealand
  • Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Salzburg, Austria
Favorite tours:

Jane RoschJane Newton

One of Jane’s favorite pastimes is browsing food markets in search of authentic local cuisine. Luckily she has family throughout Europe, meaning she can indulge her culinary curiosity on regular visits to Greece, England, Italy and southern France. A Choate and Vassar alum, Jane has also studied French history and film at the Sorbonne in Paris. Her wide range of work experience includes editing a contemporary arts journal as well as a series of travel guidebooks. Jane and her husband and two daughters split their time between Manhattan and East Hampton.

Favorite tours:
Favorite hotels:
  • Hotel Splendido & Splendido Mare, Portofino
  • Hacienda Benazuza, Seville
  • Hotel Tresanton, Cornwall
  • Hotel Hassler, Rome
Favorite museums:
  • Gipsoteca di Canova (near Treviso), Italy
  • Musee Marmottan, Paris
  • Bauhaus Site, Dessau
  • Sir John Soane's Museum (London)
Favorite site:
  • The Alhambra, Granada (Spain)
Favorite restaurants:
  • Cantinetta Antinori, Florence
  • Piazetta Cathedrale, Ostuni, Puglia
  • Amorino in Paris for Gelato!

DavidDavid Carson

David has a passion for food and exploring cultures different from his own. He is also an avid photographer and loves capturing scenes of dailylife, architecture, and local flora and fauna. He has a graduate degree in theater and is a founding member of the Metropolitan Playhouse in New York City. David has traveled widely, from France to Lithuania to South Africa.

Favorite tours:
Favorite hotels:
  • Chateau la Cheneviere, Normandy
  • The Sukhothai, Bangkok
  • Cape Grace Hotel, Cape Town
Favorite restaurants:
  • La Petite Ferme, Franschhoek (South Africa)
  • Agnes Sorel, Loire Valley (France)
Favorite museums:
  • Musee d’Orsay, Paris
  • Victoria & Albert, London
  • Gold of Africa Museum, Cape Town
Favorite experiences:
  • Walking on the city walls in Lucca (Italy)
  • Strolling the waterfront of Honfleur (France)
  • Visiting the American Cemetery in Normandy
  • A three-day photo safari in South Africa
Favorite shopping:
  • Wine in the Loire Valley and Tuscany
  • Paintings or prints of local scenes
  • Local crafts markets in every destination
  • Woolens in Ireland

MatthewMatthew Fries

A renowned jazz pianist, Matthew developed his passion for travel, food and culture on his frequent trips abroad as a musician. Matthew most enjoys visiting out-of-the-way places in Europe, focusing on their regional cuisines and cultures.

Favorite tours:
Favorite experiences:
  • Hiking in the Alps (Switzerland)
  • Touring the wine regions of Alsace, France and southwestern Germany
  • Traditional music in Galway, (Ireland)
  • Christmas Market in Berlin (Germany)
Favorite cities:
  • London, Copenhagen, Paris, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Berlin
Favorite museums:
  • Musee d’Orsay, Paris
  • Tate Modern, London
  • Louisiana Museum, Copenhagen
Favorite jazz clubs:
  • Ronnie Scotts, London (England)
  • Bimhuis, Amsterdam (Netherlands)
  • Cotton Club, Tokyo (Japan)
  • Porgy & Bess, Vienna (Austria)
  • Bird's Eye, Basel (Switzerland)