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)
  • The Ritz 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; meeting with artisans in remote Japan; 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, particularly pastries; browsing for crafts and other treasures in markets and design shops; learning the history of a place through its architecture; wandering through interesting neighborhoods; and spending ample time at museums and art galleries. At home, she and her husband host a weekly movie night with friends and love going to live music shows.

Stephanie was named a Conde Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist in 2021.

Favorite travel experiences:
  • Meeting with artisans in Japan
  • Staying at Australia’s luxury lodges
  • Visiting Machu Picchu
  • Seeing pandas in Chengdu, China
  • Over-the-top luxury in Udaipur, India
  • Exploring Diocletian’s Palace in Split, Croatia
  • Visiting indigenous markets near Oaxaca, Mexico
  • Traditional Irish music at a pub in Dublin
  • Sunrise over the Angkor temples in Cambodia
Favorite tours:
Favorite culinary experiences:
  • Snacking at the Basque Country’s pintxos bars
  • Sampling port wine in Portugal’s Douro Valley
  • Taking a cooking lesson in Chennai, India
  • A street food tour by Vespa in Saigon
  • Hidden pizza spots in Rome
  • Kaiseki cuisine in Japan
  • Churros and chocolate for breakfast in Madrid
  • Street tacos and high-end restaurants in Mexico City
  • Rijsttafel in Amsterdam
  • Afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason in London
  • Dinner at La Quartier Francais in Franschhoek, South Africa
  • Sampling fresh ceviche in Lima, Peru
Favorite museums:
  • Mauritshuis, The Hague
  • National Gallery, London
  • Guggenheim, Bilbao
  • Bargello, Florence
  • Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
  • National Museum of Anthropology, Madrid
  • MNAC and Casa Batllo, Barcelona
  • Frida Kahlo Museum, Mexico City
  • Gold Museum, Bogota
  • Musée Basque, Bayonne, France
  • Pergamon Museum, Berlin
  • Palace of the Countess of Lebrija, Seville
Favorite nature experiences:
  • Safari in South Africa
  • Hiking in the Swiss Alps
  • Mallorca’s wild and secluded beaches
  • Swimming with sea lions in the Galapagos
  • Sunrise over the Andes in Chile’s Atacama Desert
  • Boating through Sicily’s Aeolian Islands
  • A hot-air balloon ride in Cappadocia, Turkey
  • Otherworldly scenery on the Isle of Skye in Scotland
Favorite hotels:
  • Gleneagles, Scotland
  • Kayotei, Japan
  • Southern Ocean Lodge, Australia
  • Belmond Palacio Nazarenas, Peru
  • The Peninsula Hong Kong, China
  • The Oberoi Udaivilas, India
  • Hacienda Zuleta, Ecuador
  • Al Maha, Dubai
  • The Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • La Residencia, Mallorca, Spain

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 has a B.A. in hospitality from Boston University. It was while studying abroad in Florence and traveling throughout Europe that she realized she wanted to work in the travel industry.

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

When traveling, Maria loves savoring the local cuisine in food markets and at top restaurants, making international friends, staying at unique luxury accommodations and taking scenic hikes. 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.

Maria has worked in luxury travel for more than 10 years and has been listed as a Conde Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist for her expertise in South Korea, the Middle East, Europe, Asia and South America, as well as accessible travel. Maria lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their two cats.

Favorite tours:
Favorite hotels:
  • Amanzoe, Greece
  • Alila Jabal Akhdar, Oman
  • Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan, Egypt
  • The Norman in Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Padaste Manor, Estonia
  • Casa San Agustin in Cartagena, Colombia
  • Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad, India
  • Number Sixteen in London, UK
  • Four Seasons Gresham Palace, Budapest
  • Capella Ubud, Bali
Favorite places:
  • Egypt
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Tallinn, Estonia
  • Peloponnese, Greece
  • Mexico
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Coffee Triangle, Colombia
  • Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Lake Myvatn, Iceland
Favorite dining experiences:
  • Sashimi at Noryangjin Market in Seoul
  • Fresh buffalo mozzarella and pizza at Il Pizzaiuolo, Italy
  • Sunset dinner in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
  • Fresh fish at a cliffside restaurant accessible only by boat on Santorini
  • Sampling street food in Beirut, Lebanon, and Busan, South Korea
  • Private coffee tasting at a coffee farm in Colombia
  • Home-cooked pozole with a local family in Oaxaca, Mexico
  • Hummus at Abu Shukri in Jerusalem, Israel
Favorite experiences:
  • Exclusive access to the tomb of Queen Nefertari in Egypt
  • Hiking through geothermal and volcanic terrain in Iceland
  • Walking the Vasari Corridor in Florence, Italy
  • Witnessing an aarti ceremony on the Ganges River in Varanasi, India
  • Hiking with a nature specialist through Tayrona National Park, Colombia
  • Touring the Joint Security Area (JSA) at the border of North and South Korea
  • Helping a nomadic family in Mongolia herd their cattle
  • Stargazing in the Negev Desert, Israel
Favorite sites:
  • Delphi, Greece
  • Gwangjang Market in Seoul, South Korea
  • Castle District in Budapest, Hungary
  • Fjords and valleys of Norway
  • Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Wind) in Jaipur, India
  • Marsh’s Library in Dublin, Ireland
  • The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
  • Musee d'Orsay in Paris, France

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:

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)