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)
  • Park Hyatt Tokyo (Japan)
  • Castiglion del Bosco (Tuscany, Italy)
  • Villa d'Este (Lake Como, Italy)
  • Peninsula Hong Kong (China)
  • 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)
  • Sintra Palace, Portugal
  • The Egyptian Museum (Cairo)
  • Russian Museum (St. Petersburg)
  • Istanbul Modern
Favorite dining experiences:
  • Shojin ryori (vegetarian Zen cuisine) in Kyoto
  • Da Delfina (near Florence, Italy)
  • El Cardenal (Mexico City)
  • Afternoon tea in London
  • Dar Yacout, Marrakesh
  • Maroush II, London
  • The Verandah, Hong Kong
  • 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)
  • Tivoli (near Rome, 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, 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 and Peru.

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
  • Touring contemporary architecture in Tokyo
Favorite places:
  • Japan, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, the Galapagos Islands, Patagonia, Taiwan, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Beijing, Yunnan (China), 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 and China.

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

Abbey ChaseAbbey Chase

Childhood trips across the globe and a stint at Fodor's brought Abbey into the travel world. Born and raised in Colorado, she has an innate love for the outdoors, but likes to keep one foot in big cities. After graduating with a journalism degree from Northwestern University, Abbey embarked on a year-long solo trip around the world, visiting 44 countries across six continents, including treks in the Himalayas, the Andes, and the Alps; cultural tours through the world's most famous cities; safaris in Africa; and road trips through Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the U.K. and Ireland. Abbey has a passion for travel in remote places and never leaves home without her camera.

Favorite tours:
Favorite hotels:
  • The Nam Hai, Vietnam
  • Uma Punakha, Bhutan
  • Royal Malawane, South Africa
  • Eolo, Argentina
  • The Singular Patagonia, Chile
  • Kingsford Homestead, Australia
  • Hotel Monasterio, Peru
Favorite culinary experiences:
  • Balsamic vinegar tasting in Emilia-Romagna, Italy
  • Street food tour in Shanghai's night markets
  • Khao soi (coconut curry noodle soup) at street stalls in Chiang Mai
  • Kaesespaetzle (thin noodles served with cheese and onions) in the Austrian Alps
  • Portuguese egg tarts at Pasteis de Belem, Lisbon
Favorite sites:
  • The Twelve Apostles, Victoria, Australia
  • Punakha Valley, Bhutan
  • Temples and pagodas in Bagan, Myanmar
  • Taj Mahal, India
  • Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
  • Thornybush Game Reserve, South Africa
  • Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
  • San Fruttuoso Abbey, outside Portofino, Italy
  • The Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland
  • Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France

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, as well as Israel and Turkey, Colombia, South Korea 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
  • 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
  • Dharamsala, India
  • 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

Arden AndersenArden Andersen

Arden caught the travel bug on a student trip to Australia when she was just 12 years old. Since then, she has traveled extensively in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, visiting 35 countries and 40 U.S. states. When traveling, Arden loves experiencing local food culture, wandering through art museums for hours, and discovering the hidden gems of a city. Some of her favorite travel experiences include Port wine tastings in Porto, Portugal; buying crafts in Bagan, Myanmar; viewing Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper in Milan, Italy; visiting theme cafes in Tokyo, Japan; and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

A New Jersey native, Arden lived in Copenhagen, Denmark, for six years. Copenhagen first stole her heart through its amazing culture, food and architecture when she was a study-abroad student during college. After receiving her BA from The George Washington University, Arden returned to the Danish capital to earn a master's degree from Copenhagen Business School and work in the travel industry.

Arden and her Danish husband took an adventurous four-month honeymoon through 10 countries in Asia. It included a two-week trek to Everest base camp in Nepal, a one-month trip through Vietnam, a week in Japan, and several weeks exploring the temples and cultures of Bali, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar (Burma). Other recent trips include Italy, France, England, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Portugal, Greece, the Czech Republic and the UAE.

Favorite tours
Favorite excursions:
  • Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
  • Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • Kronborg Castle/Hamlet's Castle (Denmark)
  • Kylemore Abbey (Ireland)
  • Gardens of Versailles (France)
  • Christmas markets anywhere in Europe
  • Exploring the temples of Bagan (Myanmar)
  • Ayeyarwady River cruise (Myanmar)
  • Halong Bay cruise (Vietnam)
  • Gardens by the Bay (Singapore)
  • Spending the day exploring the Angkor temples (Cambodia)
Favorite museums:
  • Musee de l'Orangerie, Paris
  • Musee d'Orsay, Paris
  • Uffizi Gallery, Florence
  • British Museum, London
  • Pergamon Museum, Berlin
  • Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen
  • Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum, Copenhagen
  • Kon-Tiki Museum, Oslo
  • Vasamuseet (Vasa Museum), Stockholm
Favorite dining experiences:
  • Lunch at Borough Market in London
  • Hot chocolate at Angelina in Paris
  • Tasting menu at Formel B in Copenhagen
  • Drinking kopi luwak coffee in Bali
  • Seafood dinner at Fuor d'Acqua in Florence
  • Afternoon tea at The Orangery at Kensington Palace in London
  • Smoked salmon and herring from smoke houses on the island of Bornholm, Denmark
  • Tasting the tomatoes grown in the floating gardens of Inle Lake, Myanmar

Melissa CahillMelissa Cahill

As a native Manhattanite, Melissa grew up surrounded by international cultures and influences, and she frequented museums, theaters and cosmopolitan restaurants on a regular basis. Summer vacations to visit family in Hawaii enriched her love of travel and introduced her to various Asian traditions. However, it was Melissa's first trip to England, Scotland and France as a teenager that ignited her passion for international travel. Later, during university studies, she spent more time in Europe. Since then, she's rarely stopped traveling. A four-month adventure through Southeast Asia included volunteering at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand, practicing yoga with a maharaja in India, buying tailor-made silk dresses in Vietnam and cycling though rice fields in Bali. Memorable experiences from other trips include visiting temples and shrines in Kyoto, Japan; camping in the Outback of Australia; hot-air ballooning over the Maasai Mara while on safari in Kenya; hiking in Iceland's interior; exploring the cave cities of Cappadocia, Turkey; sampling vinho verde wine in Portugal; and bargaining in the souks of Marrakesh, Morocco. Other countries Melissa has visited recently include Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, Cambodia, Greece, China, Patagonia and Tanzania.

When travelling Melissa likes to browse local food and flea markets, explore neighborhoods, search for unique fashion boutiques, seek out live music, and hike and bike in the surrounding countryside.

Favorite places:
  • Tokyo
  • Lisbon
  • Hoi An, Vietnam
  • Sydney and the Outback of Australia
  • Istanbul
  • Maasai Mara, Kenya
  • Landmannalaugar, Iceland
  • Jaipur, India
Favorite sites:
  • Blue Mosque, Istanbul
  • Quinta Da Regaleira, Sintra, Portugal
  • Halong Bay, Vietnam
  • Bamboo Forest, Kyoto, Japan
  • Sydney Opera House
  • Angkor Wat, Cambodia
  • Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Favorite culinary experiences:
  • Taking a cooking class in Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Sundowner cocktails over the Chyulu Hills of Kenya
  • Spicy paneer tikka at a local family's home in Pushkar, India
  • Okonomiyaki pancakes in Hiroshima
  • Dumplings on Nanjing Road, Shanghai
  • Fried halloumi cheese in Berlin
  • Sashimi at Tsukiji Fish Market outer stalls, Tokyo
  • Merguez sausages at the food stalls of Djemaa el-Fna's night market in Marrakesh
Favorite museums:
  • British Museum, London
  • Musee d'Orsay, Paris
  • Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • Jim Thompson House, Bangkok
  • Pompidou Museum, Paris
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)