Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What do you mean by “luxury travel?”
A: Luxury to us means several things: the best hotels and carefully chosen room categories; expert guides with a wealth of knowledge and the ability to tailor touring to each traveler's interests; itineraries designed with ideal order and routing; relaxation and hassle-free experiences; access to special people and experiences; ongoing, personalized service from our USA-based travel consultants, all of whom have exceptional destination knowledge; and the comfort of knowing that you, as a traveler, always have an Artisans of Leisure representative to contact at any time, wherever you are in the world.
Q: Is Artisans of Leisure a travel agency?
A: Artisans of Leisure is a wholesale tour operator. We arrange comprehensive tours that include hotels, sightseeing with private guides and/or drivers, airport and train station transfers, visas, and regional transportation (internal flights, private drivers, bullet train tickets, etc.). Once you are ready to start planning a trip, please have your preferred travel agent contact us, or call us at (800) 214-8144.
Q: How are you different from other tour companies?
A : We provide highly personalized service, with each trip carefully designed according to our clients’ interests and specifications.
- We only offer private tours—no group tours with set departures, although we regularly arrange tours for groups of friends and extended families.
- We specialize in luxury travel so our tours include five star hotels and top room categories (often deluxe rooms or suites).
- The guides and drivers we arrange are true experts and our tours emphasize the local lifestyle and culture through cuisine, art, architecture, landscapes, and local traditions.
- We only arrange international travel in countries that we feel are safe, fascinating, and where our expertise and services will be of tremendous value to luxury travelers.
- Our travel consultants are passionate about travel and have extensive experience living and traveling in the countries we handle.
Q: Do you work with travel agents?
A : Yes, we work closely with travel agents from around the world, and we are a preferred tour supplier for luxury travel consortiums such as Virtuoso. Our published tours can be sent to clients as is, or customized.
Q: What exactly does “private touring” mean?
A: A private tour means you have your own guide and driver and are not traveling with a group of strangers. Each day is very flexible and you have full control over what you see and do. Of course, we’ve communicated with each guide in advance, so if you prefer to sit back and follow our recommendations, even better!
Q: How do you select hotels and destinations?
A: When it comes to hotels and locations, we pride ourselves in our knowledge of the very best hotels and rooms categories, and how they compare to others. We encourage you to speak with one of our representatives about why we’ve chosen the hotels we use. Our close contacts at each hotel keep us well connected and informed, offering exceptional service and added-value to our clients. Because of the unique relationship we build with these hotels, you are given preferential treatment and receive special perks. Hotels are selected based on service, style, location and facilities.
Q: I live in London. Do you work with travelers who reside outside of the US?
A: Yes, our clients live all over the world.
Q: Is Artisans of Leisure accredited by industry associations?
A: Yes, Artisans of Leisure is a registered member of all major travel industry associations, including IATAN and ASTA. We are also the preferred luxury travel partner for the world's most exclusive private clubs, concierge companies, and travel agency consortiums such as Virtuoso.
Q: Is airfare included in the price of your tours?
A: Internal flights are included in our tour prices, unless otherwise specified. Trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic airfare is additional. Many of our clients prefer to book their own international flights using miles or two-for-one offers. As a tour operator, our services begin when you arrive at your first international destination.
Q: Are meals included in your tours?
A: Breakfast is generally included each day. Depending on the hotel or destination, we also occasionally include several lunches during touring and select dinners. We prefer to keep most lunches and dinners free to allow travelers to see how they feel each day and what type of cuisine they desire. We make advance restaurant reservations when requested, and we provide detailed lists of recommended restaurants in each location.
Q: Your itineraries look amazing. Is it possible to make changes to the itineraries? A: Yes, our specialty is customized travel. We are happy to modify any of the tours on our website, or to start from scratch and custom-design a new tour altogether. Please note that a $500 fee applies in order for us to quote custom-designed tours—this fee is then deducted from the total tour cost if the tour is booked. Alternatively, when travelers book one of the pre-costed tours from our website, no design fee is required, but we are still pleased to tailor the daily touring to your exact interests.
Q: We have our own hotels and only need a day or two of private touring. Can you assist?
A: Artisans of Leisure arranges private tours that are inclusive of comprehensive services (accommodation, private touring, and private transfers). A minimum tour length does apply and varies by destination.
Q: I am considering one of your tours. What's next?
A: Please contact us by telephone, e-mail, or via your travel agent once you are considering a trip. At that point, we can answer any questions regarding weather, recommended destinations, vaccinations, or special events taking place, and help you determine the best itinerary and destination(s). Once you are ready to book one of our trips, contact our New York office or your travel agent to make arrangements to place your trip deposit. We then book all services and generally have confirmations within 24-36 hours, depending on the extent of your services. View our Booking Information for more details.
Q: After I book my trip, what sort of materials will you send me?
A: After we receive your trip deposit, we will send you a detailed confirmed itinerary, information about the countries you will be visiting, and any necessary paperwork for required tourist visas. We will send you a comprehensive package that includes destination guides, a list of recommended restaurants for each country you are visiting, a reading list, and contact information and phone numbers for all hotels and our representative office in each country.
Q: How far in advance should I book my trip?
A: This depends how far in advance you prefer to plan. We book last-minute trips all the time, and we also arrange tours that are planned years in advance. Major considerations are visa requirements, holiday and festival availability, and seasonal demand (e.g., cherry blossom season in Japan or resort season in Europe).
Q: Are visas required for your tours?
A: Visa requirements vary by country, and many of our destinations require tourist visas to be obtained in advance. Our tours generally include visa provision for US residents and we provide very clear instructions once a tour is booked. Some of our clients cannot be without their passport and prefer to secure their own visas.
Q: I have concerns about safety, particularly in areas of the world I am not familiar with or seem to be unstable.
A: Our primary concern is the safety and comfort of our clients. We monitor security situations around the world and discontinue tours in destinations that seem unsafe. We have representative offices in each major city and they are available around the clock to monitor your services, your safety, and to respond as needed.
Q: What happens in an emergency during one of your tours?
A: Each traveler receives comprehensive contact information for our local representatives in each country, including 24-hour contact information for our associates who are available around-the-clock. Additionally, we recommend purchasing comprehensive travel insurance and separate emergency evacuation insurance through a provider that will fly you to the hospital of your choice.
Q: What is travel insurance and medical evacuation insurance?
A: We strongly recommend purchasing comprehensive travel insurance and medical evacuation insurance. If you do not have travel insurance and you cannot take or complete your tour for any reason, you stand to lose the entire amount you’ve paid for your trip. Travel insurance offers protection against such circumstances, including trip cancellations, interruptions and delays, baggage loss and delays, medical emergencies and other problems. Medical evacuation plans offer additional protection: in the event of an emergency, our recommended affiliate will fly you on their ICU-equipped aircraft to the hospital of your choice.
Q: What types of vehicles do you use?
A: While brands vary from country to country, we always provide the best available vehicles in each region: safe, comfortable, spacious and air-conditioned. For families or for larger groups of friends traveling together, we provide luxury mini-vans, coaches or SUVs.
Q: We will have a lot of luggage. Is this a problem?
A: This is not a problem as long as you advise us in advance. Before you depart on your trip, please let us know how much luggage you expect to travel with so that we can arrange porters (whenever possible) and the appropriate vehicles at every stop along the way. However, please bear in mind that international and domestic airlines may charge extra fees for luggage that exceeds their maximum per person weight allowance. These fees are the responsibility of each traveler and must be paid directly to the airline(s).
Q: Is it possible to puchase an Artisans of Leisure gift certificate?
A: Yes, gift certificates and gift cards are available and can be used toward any of our luxury international tours. Please refer to our Gift Certificate page for more information.
Q: Is it possible to have touring that focuses on our specific interests?
A: Whether you are interested in art, architecture, history, food and wine, Jewish attractions, gardens, family-friendly activities, shopping or romance, we will arrange for you to have personalized touring with appropriate experts who will emphasize your interests. This includes meeting local scholars, visiting special private sites, and taking advantage of our extensive contacts in each country. For example, history buffs traveling to Vietnam can meet with a well-known historian in Hanoi to learn the history of the country through the eyes of a local expert. If you are interested in art, we can arrange for you to tour Madrid with a local art expert. Let your travel consultant know if you have any particular areas of interest and we will craft an itinerary just for you. We also recommend viewing our luxury travel blog for special-interest travel ideas.
Q: What is there to do during ‘leisure time’?
A: Our clients are savvy, sophisticated travelers who want the convenience of guides and our expertise, but want independence as well. There are plenty of things to do when you are not touring with your guide. We can provide you with other options for sightseeing or you can enjoy hotels’ facilities, such as pools and spas and, when available, beaches, gardens, golf courses, cooking schools and other activities. Essentially, leisure time is a matter of preference, but in general we like to incorporate a balance of guided touring and free time.
Q: We are very interested in having “foodie” experiences. What can you arrange for us?
A: Many of our travel consultants are “foodies” too, and we know some fantastic experiences and places that will make your tour extra special. In India, for example, we can arrange for you to experience authentic local cuisine at private homes. In Japan, experience a traditional Zen Buddhist shojin ryori lunch at a temple. In New Zealand, try fly-fishing during the day, then have a gourmet chef prepare a 5-star meal with your catch of the day at one of the country’s finest lodges. In Vietnam, take a cooking class with a famous Vietnamese TV Chef. In Madrid, we can arrange for you to enjoy an evening "tapas" tours with local residents. We have many more delicious suggestions. In London, stop for lunch at the Borough Market or favorite historic pubs. Please refer to our Culinary Tours page for our most popular culinary tours.
Q: Can you make dinner reservations for us?
A: We provide our clients with extensive restaurant recommendations and are happy to make advance dinner reservations. From haute cuisine to local favorites to traditional dinners in private homes, we know all the best places to have a variety of dining experiences. Artisans of Leisure travelers also have the privilege of access to such highly-esteemed members-only restaurants, such as the China Club in Hong Kong.
Q: Are you able to get tickets to special events?
A: Artisans of Leisure is able to secure tickets to local events, whether it’s ringside seats for Thai Boxing, a viewing of “The Last Supper” in Milan, tickets to Sumo tournaments in Japan, prime seats at the Vienna Philharmonic's New Year's concert and most other events and performances.
Q: I want to make sure I have opportunities to shop during my tour. I'd also love great recommendations for unique local products. Can you help with this?
A: All Artisans of Leisure tours can be customized to include personalized shopping as part of the private cultural touring in each location. There is no extra cost for this special service. Whether you simply want plenty of time to browse in museum gift shops or interesting shopping streets, or if you want more in-depth private shopping excursions, we offer insider access to shops and people, expert advice, private specialist guides fluent in the local language and culture, and full-service logistical support such as packing and shipping. Our travel consultants maintain a vast, sophisticated knowledge base of the best local craftspeople, shops, markets and other sources of high-quality goods. We can help you find just about anything you desire, whether it’s fashion accessories in designer outlets in Italy, ceramics and lacquerware in remote villages in Japan, antique furniture in Paris, or exquisite one-of-a-kind jewelry in Hong Kong.
Q: What is your most romantic tour?
A: We have many suggestions for romantic tours and honeymoons in destinations such as Bali, Thailand, Australia, France, Italy and Spain – just to name a few. Our romantic tours and honeymoons offer a perfect balance or leisure time and touring, and rooms at the most intimate luxury hotels and resorts.
Q: My husband and I will be celebrating our anniversary while traveling with Artisans of Leisure. Is there something special you can arrange for us?
A: Your travel consultant will plan activities to make your special day one to remember, whether it’s a candlelight dinner, side-by-side massages, a sunset camel ride, a blessing ceremony, a private cruise, or a romantic picnic on a private beach.
Q: I’m getting married next year and want an Artisans of Leisure honeymoon. What can you arrange?
A: Artisans of Leisure honeymooners receive extra perks and amenities—e.g., complimentary spa treatments, beachside dinners and room upgrades—in addition to the flexibility of touring with your own private guides and drivers, top rooms in the world’s best hotels and resorts, and other services that are standard on all of our tours. Visit our Honeymoon Tours page for our top recommendations for romantic tours.
We can also easily create a Honeymoon Registry for you that allows your family and friends to contribute to the payment of your trip. Each time someone gives a contribution towards your honeymoon, Artisans of Leisure will send you notice of the amount given along with a personalized letter of thanks to the gift-giver.
Q: I will be traveling with children. Are your destinations suitable for any age?
A: Family travel is one of our specialties. We cover a lot of countries and some of them are more family-friendly than others. Our travel consultants can recommend certain hotels and destinations that are recommended for children. Visit our Family Tours page for our most recommended for family tours.
Q: I’m not interested in doing anything touristy. Can you take me to places that are “off the beaten track”?
A: Our travel experts have lived overseas for years and we pride ourselves in having the expert knowledge to take you to places that are not frequented by many tourists. For example, in China, we can arrange for you to visit a very remote, little-visited section of the Great Wall. In Morocco, we will take you on a private drive through the High Atlas mountains to visit small Berber villages. In Japan, you will have access to private gardens and atmospheric temples and shrines that are rarely visited by tourists. In Provence and Tuscany, visit local food markets and quiet villages. We have many more suggestions in all of our destinations.
Q: We are interested in having spa treatments in every city we visit. Can you make appointments for us?
A: Our travel experts know all the most luxurious spas in the world. We will gladly book appointments for you in any destination you are visiting, and we will provide spa menus in advance. We are also happy to customize an entire international spa tour.
Q: I lived overseas many years ago and would like to visit some of the old places where I used to live. Can that be arranged?
A: We are happy to make arrangements for you to visit familiar neighborhoods and places. Let us know if there is a special place you would like to visit during your trip and we will have a guide and/or driver to take you there.
Q: We are planning to buy artwork while traveling. Do you know which galleries are the most reputable? Will someone be able to help us with shipping arrangements?
A: For those clients interested in art, Artisans of Leisure will prepare a custom itinerary that focuses on the arts and includes visits to the best galleries and interesting museums in each city. We can also arrange appointments with art specialists and, in some destinations, viewings of private collections. Shipping can be arranged easily and inexpensively.
Q: We are taking an extensive cruise and would like to have Artisans of Leisure arrange private shore excursions in each country. Can you do this?
A: Artisans of Leisure can enrich your cruise experience by providing private touring at each port of call. Your guide and driver will be waiting for you upon your ship’s arrival. You will enjoy private excursions with flexible sightseeing away from the crowds. We can also make arrangements for you to stay in luxurious hotels as an alternative to staying on board while your ship is in port, or during pre- and post-cruise visits. Please note that we have a minimum booking requirement of 6+ days of private shore excursions.
Q: Do you offer any tours that focus on Jewish heritage?
A: Artisans of Leisure arranges very comprehensive and educational Jewish heritage tours in many countries, including Spain, Portugal, Poland, Germany, Italy & Sicily, Hungary, Czech Republic, China, Lithuania, Buenos Aires, Morocco and India.
Q: I don’t eat shellfish. Should I worry about eating overseas?
A: Let us know if you have any dietary restrictions. We will inform the hotels and guides in every destination on your tour and make sure everyone is well aware of any special dietary requirements before you arrive. We will also assist with dining reservations, if desired, and notify all restaurants of your dietary requirements in advance.
Artisans of Leisure works closely with travelers who have special dietary requirements and requests, including travelers with food allergies (shellfish, nuts, or other allergies), travelers who are vegetarians, travelers with celiac disease or gluten intolerance who require gluten free menus, and travelers who require kosher meals.
Q: I love to travel and want to apply for a position at your company. How do I do so?
A: Our company is growing and we are always looking for new additions to our New York City office. If you have traveled extensively and feel that your travel philosophy and experience is consistent with ours, plus submit a detailed resume and personal travel history to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: I am a local supplier overseas and want to introduce my services. To whom should I direct my correspondence?
A: Please send all materials to us by mail or my e-mail at email@example.com. We will be sure to forward your materials to the appropriate members of our product development team for consideration.
Is there a question you would like answered? Please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!