Paris, Dublin and Ireland

In the balmy Spring of 2017 I flew to Paris for a couple of days, and then joined some happy returning EuroDisney travelers (not planned) for the Paris/Dublin flight, where I learned about apparently famous Irish potato chips.  I joined up with John in Dublin where he had been on business and we set off for the southwest of Ireland, starting on St Paddys’ Day. Kilkenny, Cork, Kinsale & Cobh were a fantastic 3 day trip!

The over the top phenomenal hotel I’m pictured in is La Reserve in Paris. Other fabulous hotels visited, among others, were San Regis, Le Meurice, Le Bristol and in Ireland the lovely Hayfield Manor Hotel.

DSC_0172
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Edinburgh & London Report

I visited Edinburgh and London this past November and here is my report, in photos. The hotels stayed in were The Balmoral, a Rocco Forte Hotel, a grande dame set above the railway station in Edinburgh.  And in London, another Rocco Forte hotel, Brown’s Hotel, a classic central Mayfair establishment which has been around longer than any of us.

I flew over in Delta’s quite nice Business Class, Delta One, and back in Upper Class with  Virgin Atlantic.

 

 

Edinburgh and London

Seabourn Sojourn | San Francisco Visit

Seabourn Sojourn was in San Francisco and she is as spectacular as ever.  Catch up on my earlier reviews.

Seabourn Sojourn review | July 2013

Seabourn Sojourn

Regent Seven Seas Navigator

Enjoy this pictures from my visit on board Regent Seven Seas Navigator while she was visiting San Francisco.  My clients like on of the line’s original ships, not  to mention our brand new cruise terminal.

Regent Seven Seas Navigator

Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage | Palm Springs

Fiji Airways Business Class

I just returned from a Business Class trip from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia (SFO -SYD) via Nadi.   Even though this was a trip to Australia, I did go to Fiji last year to check out many of their top resorts. Those posts are here.  Here are my thoughts on Fiji Airways.

DESIGN/ To me this is always important and the plane is true to it’s country, both outside and inside.  From the simple brown and white logo to the colorful dresses the flight attendants wear, to the pillows and comforters supplied, it’s excellent.

FRIENDLINESS/ Pretty much at the top of the list for what you want, the crew was super friendly, especially southbound. Big smiles, always wanting to help. I’d almost say they never say no, but the crew on the return was a bit strict, almost like they had just read the manual and didn’t want to deviate from it.  For instance about 4 hours outside of SFO when almost everybody was sleeping they made announcements for the duty free  – and that could have waited.

SEAT COMFORT / The seats are almost lie flat – I’d say 95% so it was easy to get some rest.  I’m an average size person and the width seemed a bit snug to me.  The buttons worked pretty good (except on the SFO/NAN leg) so the seat moved where you wanted it to.  They supplied both a duvet and a blanket, so I put the moderately comfy duvet under me with the blanket on top – and it worked.  Storage wasn’t great so you needed to keep most of your stuff in the overheads.

FOOD / This was surprisingly good, including the Laucala welcome drink. Not sure it was named after the famous Red Bull owned ultra-luxury resort I went to last year, but it was excellent nonetheless and a very authentic Fijian welcome.  Sorry I didn’t save the menu, but they offered a couple of choices and I ate it all. Mimosas for breakfast were fun, too.

BUSINESS CLASS LOUNGES SFO and Nadi / are both available at no extra charge. In San Francisco we were able to use the fantastic and very chic Virgin Atlantic lounge with all their fabulous drinks and meal service. Service was super friendly, too. In Nadi, Fiji Airways is redoing their lounge, and the temporary one is, while not great, at least pleasant enough with complimentary beer, wine and snacks. And in Sydney we did not have time to enjoy any services, which I think may be at the Qantas lounge, but I’m not sure.

ON TIME & MISC / All 4 flights were on-time, baggage made it, online check-in worked and all was good.

f o r   m o r e   i n f o r m a t i o n   &   t o   b o o k

josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
an independent affiliate of travel experts | a virtuoso agency
Sign up for our interesting but infrequent emails

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Josh Friedman is an old-fashioned travel agent offering highly personalized 24/7 service. Specialties include high-end and bespoke luxury travel for small groups and individuals.  His areas of expertise include ultra-luxury cruises, customized vacations & luxury hotel stays.  He also plans spectacular honeymoons, anniversary and birthday celebrations and completes trips that clients have started and just can’t quite figure out how to finish.

His relationships built over twenty years with the world’s top hotels, cruise lines and local agencies will ensure your successful vacation. As a client you get exclusive and complimentary perks that you can’t get on your own — from VIP introduction to the hotel’s management to upgrades, scrumptious breakfasts and hotel spending credits.

Call Josh for details, the ultimate in service & exclusive luxury hotel amenities with Virtuoso.

 

4083 24th street, #460250,  san francisco, ca 94114 cst# 2080753-40

 

Josh Friedman Luxury Travel | San Francisco

Gay Luxury Cruise | Greek Islands

Updated 21 August 2017

Originally posted Spring 2017 | I finally received almost all of what I needed from Silversea to get this big ol gay vacation going in Sept 2018.   Should be a lot of fun.  If you’re in San Francisco, Ray has promised to lead weekly exercise classes between now and next September so we’ll all look great in our new swimsuits.  If you’re not local, we’ll see about chapters in your town.  See below for inspiration (yes, i took this):

Seabourn-Sojourn_0057

Here’s what we have going:

Dates| 16 – 23 September, 2018

Itinerary | Click here for details.  It begins and ends in Athens (Piraeus) and visits the Greek Islands of Hydra, Mykonos, Kos, Santorini, and Volos. It also visits the famous ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ephesus, via it’s port of Kusadasi, Turkey.  A preliminary list of shore excursions is here.

Cruise Line | Silversea

josh’s notes / one of the top 4 cruise lines. all small ships. all inclusive of wine, spirits (en-suite too),  espresso drinks, etc, gratuities, wifi (1 hr/day),  shuttles in most ports, butler service, 24 hour in-room dining

Demographics | For the most part Silversea attracts a very well heeled guest. Mostly American, but you’ll find Aussies, Brits, a few South Americans and scattered others.  You’ll usually see a couple to a few gay couples but we plan to upend that! The LGBT mix is American/non-American as well, and usually men.

Ship | Silver Whisper

  josh’s notes / 382 guests, 302 crew, built 2001, refurbished december 2016, 28k gross registered tons (that’s not big), 7 passenger decks, registry Bahamas, officers are mostly Italian and crew is from all over.

Pricing | The ship has generally 4 types of suites and they’re all referenced here.  1) without a veranda, 2) with a shared veranda (a little unusual), 3) with a private veranda and 4) big suites. 1-3 are all the same size at 287 Sq Ft plus veranda if applicable with another 58 Sq Ft. A deck plan with suite configurations is here.

Prices are per person, based on 2 to a suite, and include all taxes. Very easy.  There should also be a discount for those who have sailed with Silversea before. Currently (Aug 2017) AIR IS FREE and Business Class is only $1,198 round-trip, from many cities in the USA.

By booking with our group you receive a $150 per person ship board credit which can be used toward any shore excursion, spa treatment or boutique purchase.  We’ll also have a private cocktail party or two during the cruise to liven things up.   I’m planning on our exclusive amenities as well! Ideas welcome.

Book and pay by 8/30/2017 and receive a 10% discount. Should Silversea have any other promotions later on you would be eligible to add that to your booking, but the booking would have to be repriced at that time.

Single?   Silversea has a  good promotion now for a 25% supplement for your own suite.  Normally you’d pay double.  My guess is that this will not last. (I was right, it’s already gone up to 50%)

Trip insurance is optional and advisable. Ask for details.

Before & After | There are a million places to visit before and after but I’m thinking maybe some of us would want to spend time in famous gay Mykonos before. The ship does go there, but one day just isn’t enough. Let me know what you think.  I’ve been to Athens several times back in the day, and it’s worth a couple of days at least + there are many sites nearby you can do on day trips.   I’ve been friends with the sales manager of the 2 Starwood Luxury Collection hotels in Athens for 30 years and she’ll take great care of us.

More Infomation & To Book |  Just call or email with your questions and I’ll set you up.

Friends | By all means, invite everybody you know.  This group is starting in San Francisco but expect it to go nationwide and global.

Josh

legal disclaimer / i apologize if any of the above facts are alternative. it was not my intent and like somebody else we know, i’m not responsible.

 

Call Josh for details, the ultimate in service

Top Producer with Expert Knowledge on all Luxury Lines:
– Silversea
– Seabourn Cruise Line
– Regent Seven Seas Cruises
– Crystal Cruises
– SeaDream Yacht Club
– AmaWaterways

 josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
an independent affiliate of travel experts | a virtuoso agency
twitter  flickr  facebook   you tube  tripadvisor
four seasons preferred partner,

Read my review of Seabourn Sojourn
and my more recent review of Seabourn Sojourn in the Baltic
Read my review of Seabourn Spirit
Read my review of Silver Cloud
Read all my ship reviews with photos

Josh Friedman is an old-fashioned travel agent offering highly personalized 24/7 service. Specialties include high-end and bespoke luxury travel for small groups and individuals.  His areas of expertise include ultra-luxury cruises, customized vacations & luxury hotel stays.  He also plans spectacular honeymoons, anniversary and birthday celebrations and completes trips that clients have started and just can’t quite figure out how to finish.

His relationships built over twenty years with the world’s top hotels, cruise lines and local agencies will ensure your successful vacation. As a client, you get exclusive and complimentary perks that you can’t get on your own — from VIP introduction to the hotel’s management to upgrades, scrumptious breakfasts and hotel spending credits.

4083 24th street, #460250,  san francisco, ca 94114 cst# 2080753-40

 

Josh Friedman Luxury Travel | San Francisco

 

 

 

Best Tango Show Buenos Aires | Rojo Tango

My partner and I just returned from a two week trip through Chile and Argentina, staying at the finest hotels and eating at some of the best restaurants.  This may not be a fair review as I didn’t see any other tango shows.. but I can tell you I can’t imagine this can be beat.

VENUE/ A very small cabaret seating maybe 15-20 tables, so you’re very up close and personal with the dancers.  It’s right off the lobby of the stunning and sexy Faena Hotel Buenos Aires. Disclaimer – even though the Faena is one of our partners, my enthusiasm stands alone.

CUISINE/ Do you ever hear that the show was good but the food was terrible? This isn’t true here, and I consider myself a San Francisco food snob.  You have a choice of several courses, champagne, red & white wines.  Service is fantastic.

DANCING/ I grew up in a family of ballet dancers so while I can’t say my mom and sister would give a rousing thumbs up, I’d guess they would. I actually wasn’t that interesting in going but the variety and technicality was stunning.

TRANSPORT/ Private (really nice) car transportation to and from included.

PICTURE/rojo-tango-buenos-aires I wish I could have taken pictures but just eked out this one. For all Flickr pix of our recent trip through Chile and Argentina, click here.

OTHER POSTS FOR SOUTH AMERICA/ The Singular Patagonia  Eolo  Park Hyatt Buenos Aires  Four Seasons Buenos Aires  Estancia La Bamba de Areco

RECO/ Go.

 

 

f o r   m o r e   i n f o r m a t i o n   &   t o   b o o k

josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
an independent affiliate of travel experts | a virtuoso agency
Sign up for our interesting but infrequent emails

facebook  twitter  flickr  you tube
four seasons preferred partner

 

Josh Friedman is an old-fashioned travel agent offering highly personalized 24/7 service. Specialties include high-end and bespoke luxury travel for small groups and individuals.  His areas of expertise include ultra-luxury cruises, customized vacations & luxury hotel stays.  He also plans spectacular honeymoons, anniversary and birthday celebrations and completes trips that clients have started and just can’t quite figure out how to finish.

His relationships built over twenty years with the world’s top hotels, cruise lines and local agencies will ensure your successful vacation. As a client you get exclusive and complimentary perks that you can’t get on your own — from VIP introduction to the hotel’s management to upgrades, scrumptious breakfasts and hotel spending credits.

Call Josh for details, the ultimate in service & exclusive luxury hotel amenities with Virtuoso.

 

4083 24th street, #460250,  san francisco, ca 94114 cst# 2080753-40

 

Josh Friedman Luxury Travel | San Francisco

 

 

 

Luxury Hotel Reviews | Fiji

I recently spent a week in Fiji visiting the best of their luxury resorts. This is my overall report. Click on the links following each hotel for photos and a further description. Click on the name of the hotel for our exclusive perks.

Fiji is not another Hawaiian vacation. Nor one to Tahiti. Other than the resorts on the main island which are not worth the time and effort for an American to get to, it’s a getaway to a world of private islands with all inclusive resorts of typically no more than 25 bungalows. Or “bures” in their local language. 

Therefore it’s for people who want to get away from it ALL.  And divers. This report won’t focus on diving but rather on the former, which would include honeymooners, honeymoons and anybody, single or coupled or just traveling with close friends who wants to chill. It’s a perfect spot for a Big Anniversary or a Zero birthday too.

Getting away from it all doesn’t mean that there is nothing to do once you arrive, as most resorts offer a plethora of activities including

  • water sports (snorkeling, diving, kayaking, swimming, wind surfing, catamarans, paddle boarding, sufing)
  • fishing on little boats & deep sea fishing
  • picnics on tiny private island
  • hiking
  • spa

But what you won’t have are:

  • a town with restaurants and shops
  • Another 90+ honeymoon couples in a big resort as on Bora Bora.
  • A hotel next door (that would be hard as you’re on your own island!)
  • Locals who live on property to take care of everything (this is fairly unique in the business, but helps support the economy) 

To skip to all of my photos from Fiji, click here.

Royal Davui / My favorite for the ultimate adult getaway. 16 bures. No kids. Just big gorgeous villas with unbelievable views and some with absolute total privacy. Private pools. Great espresso.  Good food (it’s included). Tasty cocktails. Very nice service. 

And to top it off, a private sand bar which is Unexplainable. Really.  See photo.
Royal Davui Full Review

Vomo/  Just 32 bures including a few villas, they’re almost all directly on the beach so you walk out and there you are.  They’re not big, but they are beautiful and cozy. And the beach is RIGHT there.   The main pool is quite chic as is the new restaurant and bar.

Vomo Full Review

Dolphin Island  (Relais & Chateaux) / your own private island no matter if there are just two of you or 8 (the maximum). Your own communal pool. Your own chef. Your own bartender. Excellent pina coladas!

And like Vomo you should arrive by helicopter. Absolutely spectacular views of the reef.

Dolphin Island Full Review

Laucala / Well, this place is outrageous, in a very good way. There is absolutely nothing you can’t find or do here.  Almost I better add.  The place is owned by the Red Bull fortune and absolutely nothing is left to chance or repair.

The first thing I’d probably do is take to the 2 person $2M submarine ride and discover the reef. Then I’d go for Lobster.

Laucala Full Review

f o r   m o r e   i n f o r m a t i o n   &   t o   b o o k 

josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
an independent affiliate of travel experts | a virtuoso agency
Sign up for our interesting but infrequent emails

facebook  twitter  flickr  you tube
four seasons preferred partner

Josh Friedman is an old-fashioned travel agent offering highly personalized 24/7 service. Specialties include high-end and bespoke luxury travel for small groups and individuals.  His areas of expertise include ultra-luxury cruises, customized vacations & luxury hotel stays.  He also plans spectacular honeymoons, anniversary and birthday celebrations and completes trips that clients have started and just can’t quite figure out how to finish.

His relationships built over twenty years with the world’s top hotels, cruise lines and local agencies will ensure your successful vacation. As a client you get exclusive and complimentary perks that you can’t get on your own — from VIP introduction to the hotel’s management to upgrades, scrumptious breakfasts and hotel spending credits.

Call Josh for details, the ultimate in service & exclusive luxury hotel amenities with Virtuoso.

4083 24th street, #460250,  san francisco, ca 94114 cst# 2080753-40

Josh Friedman Luxury Travel | San Francisco

Fiji | Dolphin Island

This post is part of a series from my recent trip to Fiji.  Click here for the introductory post.

AT DOLPHIN ISLAND, Relais & Chateaux/ This is a sister resort to New Zealand’s iconic Huka Lodge at Lake Taupo.*

This is your own private island no matter if there are just two of you or 8 (the maximum). 3 king bures and one twin. Your own communal pool. Your own chef. Your own bartender. Excellent pina coladas! And your own designer living room.  The entire resort is managed by a very delightful local woman – I’d call her either a saint or a sage. Or both. 

Until I’d been here I’d never been to a resort which you basically charter or take over.  I figured that was reserved for a celebrity.  Happily wrong and what a fabulous idea.

I was lucky enough to have gone with 3 friends and a good looking Kiwi helicopter pilot so we just hung out, ate, swam, drank, fished, read – and then repeated that. Because the central part of the resort is compact, you’re all hanging out with either other when you want to, and not when you don’t want to. And if you want to really get away just walk to the other side of the island — maybe that will take you 10 minutes.  There you’ll find a secluded beach (for walking around, not sunbathing) and even another private bure where you can take a nap, or even spend the night if you don’t mind the lack of walls.  See the pic below.

Dawn, the amazing woman who runs the place, has a bigger than life personality, is a lot of fun, can read your mind, and just makes everything happen. Hard to describe this place but I strongly recommend it for families, friends & couples traveling together.

Like Vomo  you should arrive by helicopter. Absolutely spectacular views of the reef. 

* Packages are available combing both Dolphin Island and Huka Lodge.

For all pix of my sojourn, visit my Fiji Flickr page.  And click here for our perks at Dolphin Island.

f o r   m o r e   i n f o r m a t i o n   &   t o   b o o k

 josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
an independent affiliate of travel experts | a virtuoso agency
Sign up for our interesting but infrequent emails

facebook  twitter  flickr  you tube
four seasons preferred partner

Josh Friedman is an old-fashioned travel agent offering highly personalized 24/7 service. Specialties include high-end and bespoke luxury travel for small groups and individuals.  His areas of expertise include ultra-luxury cruises, customized vacations & luxury hotel stays.  He also plans spectacular honeymoons, anniversary and birthday celebrations and completes trips that clients have started and just can’t quite figure out how to finish.

His relationships built over twenty years with the world’s top hotels, cruise lines and local agencies will ensure your successful vacation. As a client you get exclusive and complimentary perks that you can’t get on your own — from VIP introduction to the hotel’s management to upgrades, scrumptious breakfasts and hotel spending credits.

Call Josh for details, the ultimate in service & exclusive luxury hotel amenities with Virtuoso.

4083 24th street, #460250,  san francisco, ca 94114 cst# 2080753-40

Josh Friedman Luxury Travel | San Francisco