Four Seasons Lanai Review from a Preferred Partner Agency

If you ‘ve been following my trip through Hawaii, you’ve already read my reviews of Maui’s luxury hotels.  Now are are my thoughts on Lanai and the two Four Seasons resorts there  — Lana’i at Manele Bay and Lana’i, the Lodge at Koele.

Lana’i in General

The beauty of Lana’i is that it’s remote.  Just look at the picture below from our room.  While not in the middle of the Indian Ocean, up until now it might just as well have been.  I’ve been to Hawaii many times over the last 15 years since the hotels were built but it’s the first time I’ve been here, except for a 1 day snorkeling trip in 1985.  This island is either a 45 minute ferry ride from Lahaina (Maui) or a short flight from Honolulu. *

From our balcony at the Four Seasons Manele Bay the view is of the water, the rocks, a bit of the resort’s landscaping and that’s it. One feels one has gone much further than about 20 miles from Maui!  If you want to relax — this is the place.   Main activities include snorkeling from the hotel’s beach, horseback riding up on top of the island, tennis and golf (2 courses) . You can also rent a jeep and visit the remote beaches on the island. Unfortunately I didn’t have time for that.

* The island was purchased a year ago by Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle.  He bought the airline flying there too and Four Seasons is planning a meet and greet at the Honolulu Airport for early 2014  to make the transfer easier.

View from Room at Four Seasons Manele Bay
View from Room at Four Seasons Manele Bay

Four Seasons Lana’i at Manele Bay

There are 2 hotels and one small inn on the island. Manele Bay is Four Seasons’s resort on the water.  Barely spoken of in the same breath as Four Seasons Wailea in Maui, or Four Seasons Hualalai on the Big Island, Manele Bay has been the ‘cheap’ Four Seasons in Hawaii at about 60-70% the price of the other two. And Koele has been even less expensive.  And staying there now, it’s clear why that’s the case: It’s harder to get to, the rooms aren’t as nice, the service isn’t as sophisticated and the facilities aren’t as beautiful.  But significant changes have begun with the purchase by Larry Ellison and I’m told by the hotel’s General Manager that by July of 2014 the renovations at Manele Bay will be mostly completed and the hotel will have turned about a 180 from where it is now.  And I believe him.  The opening of Nobu is one sign – with World Class cuisine firmly in place, a total renovation of the lobby about done,  and “test” rooms completed, analyzed and retooled.

Four Seasons Lodge at Koele

About 20 minutes up the hill toward the center of the island , adjacent to downtown Lanai City, some nice stables, and many many acres of open land and forest sits the Lodge.

The temperature has cooled off a few degrees, the ocean view has vanished and now it’s almost as if you’ve arrived at Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel, but slightly smaller with 102 rooms. (Manele Bay has 236 but it’s going down to about 209). Even though the hotel looks storied, it only opened in the 90s.

Being a Hawaii regular I was pretty shocked by the transition – and I’m not one who likes surprises. Plus I like beach! But my partner John immediately wanted to check-in and open a book once he saw the hammock out in the very green backyard.  Since our visit I’ve spoken to others who really like the atmosphere.  It’s great for hiking, riding and relaxation and with less heat and humidity than down by the beach. It’s also harder to snorkel.  While the look and feel of Manele Bay is becoming quite contemporary, for now Koele remains rather traditional.

For dining outside the Lodge, the Lanai City Grille is a very good option. It’s technically walkable but the walk isn’t that nice so the hotel runs a shuttle. The restaurant is by the main park where you’ll find other small businesses like gift shops and coffee shops. But don’t expect much – it’s very minimal.

The Lodge at Koele
Four Seasons Lanai – The Lodge at Koele

Visiting Lanai Thoughts

I’d recommend an overnight stay now on Lanai if you really want to get away from it all and if you have a realistic expectation on what to expect of the two hotels. For me on this last trip I really enjoyed the solitude and the fabulous balcony with the sound of ocean and nothing else.  I enjoyed the food very much at all 3 restaurants at Manele Bay. I was also OK with the typically slow and not very sophisticated service levels in the restaurants.  If that’s not OK for you, then I’d suggest waiting until next August  (2014) or so to visit when renovations are finished at Manele Bay and the staff has had more training a la Wailea and Hualalai. I understand the Lodge is slated for renovations for 2015 but it’s really fine now.

Photos from the trip.

Dog at Stables on Lanai
Dog at Stables near Lodge at Koele

Next Steps for Booking Travel to Lanai

Call Josh for details, excellent pricing, the ultimate in service & exclusive hotel amenities as a Four Seasons Preferred Partner — for perks you cannot get on your own.

josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
with travel experts, a virtuoso member agency

twitter  flickr  facebook   you tube  tripadvisor

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.

affiliated with travel experts, a virtuoso agency and four seasons preferred partner,
201 spear st., ste 1100,  san francisco, ca 94105 cst# 2080753-40.

Josh Friedman Luxury Travel | San Francisco

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Luxury Hotel Reviews in Maui

Here are my quick perspectives on some of the top hotels in Maui. I’ve been to Hawaii many times including several visits to ths wonderful island. Hope you find this helpful while working with me to plan your perfect customized luxury vacation in Hawaii. Reach me in San Francisco at 415.987.0372.

The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua

A most amazing hotel and I’m sorry I waited so long to see it.  Typically when we travel to Maui we stay in Wailea. Force of habit, and the Four Seasons (see below) is a great place.

The Ritz is nothing like the Four Seasons, or the other hotels in Wailea mentioned below. It’s its own world in the northwest corner of the island. Whereas other resorts are lined up on the beach, this place sits on a gazillion acres and is all by itself.  The beach is a very good size, and private (not technically, but might as well be).  You can have a fabulous pulled Hawaiian pork sandwich just steps away which the day we were there was perfect. Strangely in Maui, it’s not easy to find a place where you can practically be in the water while dining, so this is a big deal.

The rooms are absolutely beautiful. I’d call it classic Hawaiian, and fits in with a 21st century sensibility. So it’s not your grandma’s classic — it’s yours.  The rooms aren’t big, so I’d recommend a suite, and since the hotel is priced so well, that’s within reach of all of my clients. And of course, we include the Josh Friedman Luxury Travel/Virtuoso amenities of free daily breakfast for two, a room credit of $100 per stay and an upgrade if available. (All subject to change.)

The hotel is large with about 450 rooms, and this affords several swimming pools, restaurants, a spa, tennis courts and more. And for kids (and adults) Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment.

Fairmont Kea Lani

In Wailea, this 350 room resort has a more typical layout and because it’s not huge like the Ritz it can feel a bit busy. The rooms however, are huge and all are suites which is really nice when you wake up before your partner and want a cup of coffee from the Keurig.

It’s a great family hotel with pools, slides, the big rooms & kid friendly everything. Service is fantastic with a very authentic and sincere feeling. I got the sense that the staff honestly meant what they said, and said it in a way where it was not forced.

We include the Josh Friedman Luxury Travel/Virtuoso amenities of free daily breakfast for two, a welcome amenity valued at up to $100 and an upgrade if available. (All subject to change.)

Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea

We’ve stayed here twice before and love this place. They’re all family friendly — you kind of have to be these days because nobody leaves their children at home any more!  But this resort is geared toward sophisticated adults, similar to the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. Because it’s smaller at about 250 rooms (there are less groups than the Ritz)  and because the grounds are a fraction of what’s in Kapalua, it has a more intimate feel.  And the adult pool is heavenly, but it is hard to find a seat there.

Service is through the ceiling as Four Seasons is known for.  But sometimes I do wish they’d lighten up and relax a bt on the job. We had a wonderful house Mai Tai in the lobby bar, followed a romantic Italian dinner down close to beach at Ferraro’s.

As a top producer for Four Seasons we include the Josh Friedman Luxury Travel/”Preferred Partner”  amenities of free daily breakfast for two, a room credit of $100 per stay, an upgrade if available and basic Internet. (All subject to change/some restrictions apply.)

Andaz Maui at Wailea

This resort just opened up and we stopped by for a sunset cocktail. And they have a great location and set up so you’re facing the ocean dead-on for this traditional daily activity.  The resort is clearly targeted to the well-to-do  30s-40s crowd.  Although I’m no longer in that demographic I loved the contemporary design. It’s stunning: very sexy. Very fun. And the service was very real, similar to what we experienced at Kea Lani and at the Ritz Kapalua.  There’s no check-in deck which is great, so it’s handled more casually in the lobby.

I didn’t see the rooms, so can’t comment there.

Photos from the trip.

A L O H A !

Call Josh for details, excellent pricing, the ultimate in service & exclusive hotel amenities with Virtuoso

josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
with travel experts, a virtuoso member agency

twitter  flickr  facebook   you tube  tripadvisor

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.

affiliated with travel experts, a virtuoso agency and four seasons preferred partner,
201 spear st., ste 1100,  san francisco, ca 94105 cst# 2080753-40.

Josh Friedman Luxury Travel | San Francisco

Adventures in Maui

Sorry for the delay in posting – just too much to do in Maui. And this is a vacation after all.

Dinners | It’s all about the food

Night #1 / Coconut’s Fish Cafe.  A dive joint in Kihei, of course in a strip mall, and with a line out the door. We split some fried coconut shrimp – a tropical specialty from Ft. Lauderdale to Maui apparently.  Fish sandwiches with coleslaw. Fantastic.

Night #2 / Mama’s Fish House. We’ve been several times over the years and this time was probably the best. Although the rain storm two years ago was fun. We split a half grilled papaya stuffed with beef, followed by Ono and Opakapaka.  Didn’t even try the mudpie for which I’m sorry now! Next time we’ll try Mama’s for lunch so we can see the ocean.

Night #3 / A progressive dinner at the Four Seasons Maui at Wailea.  We started off in the bar with a mai tai, topped with bing cherry foam. Amazing. Then had some pot stickers, enjoyed the sunset and then moved downstairs ocean side to Ferraro’s. This was a real treat. Service through the roof. We split both a salad and a beet & goat cheese risotto.

Night #4 / Pizza. Since we knew we were going the Four Seasons Lanaii and would have limited access to street food (and a car) this was the night for simple. We didn’t realize that the restaurant was 100% gluten free, but it didn’t stop us from enjoying it very much. Try Maui Brick Oven in Kihei.

Maui  | Sightseeing

Had never been to the Iao Valley before, and it’s beautiful. If you’re not going to Kauai, this is a little bit of Kauai’s Napali Coast brought to you.  And of course Makena Beach, which  I still think is one of the most beautiful (fairly) long beaches in the world.

mamas fish house
This is Ono at Mama’s Fish House in Maui!

And this morning before heading off to Lanai we went whale watching with one of Pacific Whale Foundation’s zodiac type boats. Saw some awesome humpbacks! Alas no pix but what an experience – a great value for $50 for 2 hours. Leaves from downtown Lahaina – 10 yards from the ferry to Lanai.

Photos From the Trip!

Call Josh for details, excellent pricing, the ultimate in service & exclusive hotel amenities with Virtuoso

josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
with travel experts, a virtuoso member agency

twitter  flickr  facebook   you tube  tripadvisor

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.

affiliated with travel experts, a virtuoso agency and four seasons preferred partner,
201 spear st., ste 1100,  san francisco, ca 94105 cst# 2080753-40.

Josh Friedman Luxury Travel | San Francisco

We’ve Arrived in Hawaii

Can you see our hotel below? No, you can’t since this air shot is the north eastern end of the island where it rains alot. Not a good place for a resort..

If you could move the photo to the right, you’d see a big volcano east of the Hana coast and then a very nice resort. The volcano is Haleakala and the resort is Wailea.  Sandwiched between the Four Seasons Resort and some condos, you’ll find The Fairmont Kea Lani. That’s where we are.

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Call Josh for details, excellent pricing, the ultimate in service & exclusive hotel amenities with Virtuoso

 

josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
with travel experts, a virtuoso member agency

 

twitter  flickr  facebook   you tube  tripadvisor

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.

affiliated with travel experts, a virtuoso agency and four seasons preferred partner,
201 spear st., ste 1100,  san francisco, ca 94105 cst# 2080753-40.

Josh Friedman Luxury Travel | San Francisco

Josh in hawaii – but where?

Hmmm. can you see me somewhere in this room, overlooking the beautiful pacific? am i out on the balcony looking to the right towards kihei.. or on the left looking toward makena, the most beautiful beach in the world.

nope, not the four seasons, that’s to the right.

where am i?  [hint, it’s a preferred Virtuoso resort]

stay tuned for my adventures.

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Call Josh for details, excellent pricing, the ultimate in service & exclusive hotel amenities with Virtuoso

josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
with travel experts, a virtuoso member agency

twitter  flickr  facebook   you tube  tripadvisor

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.

affiliated with travel experts, a virtuoso agency and four seasons preferred partner,
201 spear st., ste 1100,  san francisco, ca 94105 cst# 2080753-40.

Josh Friedman Luxury Travel | San Francisco

El Encanto Santa Barbara | by Orient Express

El Encanto Santa Barbara | by Orient Express

We enjoyed a quick stay over the 2013 Labor Day holiday. It’s a super place to experience the true Real California. Just restored and reopened, this resort was built in the early 20th Century over a 20+ year period. Still traditional in the rooms and suites, but the bar, overlooking the Santa Barbara bay, is more contemporary and a great place to chill. This is the perfect place for enjoying your suite, hanging out by the pool, dining and drinking on the Veranda and maybe escaping downtown (down the hill) to enjoy other restaurants, the beach and shopping.

This photo is the corner of the property where our room was located.

Call Josh for details, excellent pricing & the ultimate in service

josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
with travel experts, a virtuoso member agency

Twitter   Facebook  Flickr  You Tube

 

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.

affiliated with travel experts, a virtuoso agency and four seasons preferred partner, 201 spear st., ste 1100,  san francisco, ca 94105 cst# 2080753-40.

 

Josh Friedman Luxury Travel | San Francisco

Virtuoso Travel Week Defined #VirtuosoWk

Would you like to know what type of conference I attended in Las Vegas 2 weeks ago? Here’s a cool video they showed us at the Opening Session………

Josh

josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
with travel experts, a virtuoso member agency

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.

affiliated with travel experts, a virtuoso agency and four seasons preferred partner, 201 spear st., ste 1100, san francisco, ca 94105 cst# 2080753-40.

Review | Four Seasons Shanghai Pudong

Shanghai is a new very good place to connect and/or overnight when flying between San Francisco and Delhi, India. If you draw a line between the two, you’ll see It’s a nice straight line.

For my overnight and never having been to Shanghai before I decided I wanted the full urban experience which for me meant the Pudong district. I wanted that fabulous view in a new modern hotel. And the taxi ride to the Bund wasn’t that far away.

I had a driver pick me up at the airport since I was taking a painful red-eye in from Delhi (the flight left India at 2AM!) , but on the way back when I had had a good night’s sleep I took the amazing Maglev train — just about 10-15 cab ride from the Four Seasons Pudong, and then another 7 minutes to the airport at speeds over 400 km per hour.

The hotel is new having opened in late 2012. It offered what I thought was the classic Chinese experience, understated and contemporary. A small lobby with adjacent restaurant leads to a small elevator bank. The elevator door opens to a very spacious hallway with elegant dark woods and leather walls. The carpet has hints of red which blend with your room. The furniture in my room was a multi-shade dark lacquer which was quite classy. Along with the muted tones of gray in the room, a bright white marble bathroom and even brighter red amenities the overall look was stunning.

The Club lounge was equally sophisticated and I was quite well catered to, especially since I was there on a quiet day. The service in the lounge was almost as you’d expect from a Four Seasons, but not easy to attain with a bar so high. Although the people at reception and in the magnificent spa/pool area were polished these other ladies just found it a bit difficult to think quickly on their own. But what they did was always with a very friendly attitude, which frankly can be better than your Western efficiency syndrome . And since I wasn’t feeling very well they ALL knew about it and did whatever they could to make me feel better.

The next time I stay at the Four Seasons Shanghai Pudong, it will on my way to India — not on the way back. *

Hope you enjoy my quirky video of the floor I stayed on!

* A great first stop in Delhi is the Oberoi Gurgaon, another wonderful new hotel.

josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
with travel experts, a virtuoso member agency

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.

affiliated with travel experts, a virtuoso agency and four seasons preferred partner, 201 spear st., ste 1100, san francisco, ca 94105 cst# 2080753-40.

Seabourn Sojourn Review | July 2013

Image

My last review of a Seabourn ship was just over a year ago when I sailed in the Caribbean on Seabourn Spirit.  That ship was Seabourn’s second to launch back in about 1990 and will soon be retired.

The Sojourn is Seabourn’s 5th and launched 3 years ago. I sailed on her then on a 2 day  “industry inaugural” and that review can be found here,  Seabourn – Still the Best of the Best.

And yes, Seabourn still impresses me. The dining is fabulous, the service excellent, the ship is beautiful (it’s the most stunning sailing anywhere) and there are always interesting people to meet, whether they tell you the truth about what they do for a living or not.

Actually since I’ve been cruising — and that goes back to when I worked for both Royal Viking Line and Seabourn — I’ve run into some famous British entertainers onboard (that was on the Spirit last year), and before that a famous American author of steamy novels, a Southern pig farm magnate, an heir to a paper cup company and the president of a beer company. Years ago on RVL I ended up with a pen from the U.S. Senate although I don’t think the fellow who gave it to me was in fact a senator.  And I’ve met some very fun under the radar good people, and characters, from all walks of life. Oh, and I think I met a spy as well.

Seabourn Sojourn Staircase
Looking up the Main Staircase

Seabourn has remained consistent throughout, and that’s good because when you’re on vacation, you want some insurance that your expectations will be met, or even better, exceeded.

Seabourn does needs to eliminate smoking in suites* which is usually not a problem but can be if you’re located next to a heavy smoker. Ask my traveling companions from Baltimore about their neighbor. And their ship management needs to stay more engaged with their guests.  Not sure why they’re not – but fortunately it did not trickle down to their staff in Seabourn Square (reception), and in the restaurants and bars, who were quite excellent.

The itinerary on this cruise was busy — 7 days and 6 ports.  Stockholm (beautiful), Tallinn (very charming and interesting but too crowded), St. Petersburg  (the churches and palaces are fascinating, the crowds again intense and the citizens still a bit un-relaxed from Soviet rule), Helsinki (the Rock Church was the highlight) and Copenhagen (like Stockholm, very beautiful and good food.)  My next cruise will have more than 1 day at sea though so I can enjoy the ship more!

* Crystal Cruises, Silversea, Regent Seven Seas don’t

LINK TO ALL PHOTOS

josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco’s financial district
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
associated with travel experts, a virtuoso member

twitter  flickr  facebook   you tube  tripadvisor

Read my review of Seabourn Sojourn
Read my review of Seabourn Spirit
Read my review of Silver Cloud
Read my review of Oceania’s Marina
Read all my ship reviews with photos

Josh Friedman  is an old-fashioned travel agent offering highly personalized 24/7 service. And he does house calls, too! 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.

201 spear street, suite 1100,  san francisco, ca 94105 cst# 2080753-40

INDIA – Rishikesh Ananda Spa and The Himalaya | Josh’s Journey

A Holy Man (Sadhu) in Rishikesh
A Holy Man (Sadhu) in Rishikesh

India Part 4| The Himalaya, Ananda andRishikesh

After Jaipur I went to Udaipur, Varanasi, and then up into the Himalayan foothills, where I wrote this post.  I would have loved to have written in between but time did not permit. Fortunately my photos do a lot of storytelling on their own: Click for Udaipur photos & Varanasi photos. Earlier posts were from Delhi , the Taj Mahal (Agra) and Jaipur, Rajasthan.

The below post was written near Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India on May 8, 2013

It’s the last day of my journey to India and I have a lousy head cold – since later yesterday. I’m at the top of a mountain above Rishikesh at Ananda, the best destination spa in northern India.  If you Google Rishikesh, you’ll see it’s quite the place and let me tell you that is really is.  More on that in a minute.

This area is the beginning of the Himalayan foothills and the view from my room is rather spectacular as the mountains appear one in front of the other as they make their way higher toward Everest.  No, too far to see that 😦 The border with Tibet is about 400km and I understand that you can get a great view of the snow capped peaks about 40km from here.  Alas, the roads are pretty bad and there is just not enough time. But at least for me the excitement of being in the famous Himalaya is palpable. The respite at this peaceful resort from the chaos that is otherwise India is wonderful –probably why I got my cold after letting down my defenses of the last 10 days.

Here at Ananda, people typically spend 1 to 3 weeks or longer (they also have shorter packages) and I’ve met friendly people from Scotland, France & England. Haven’t spoken with the Russians as I’m not sure their English is too good and they seem a bit to themselves.   It’s not a spa like Miraval* but the setting is great and as I’ve found all over India, the service levels are excellent. To generalize, they’re a very warm and hospitable people. And peacocks wander freely around the property as they have in several of the hotels I’ve stayed at.

Ananda Spa Peacock
At Ananda Spa (a local)

Rishikesh is the town at the base of the mountain here, about half way between here and the airport at Dehradun, about a 30 minute windy drive. This town with many ashrams is where the Beatles spent time with their yogi back in the 60s.  You could pretty much have expected to see Julia Roberts here too, straight out of the movie Eat Pray Love. A holy city sitting on the Ganges, a lot quieter than Varanasi (Benares) people come to meditate and seek peace and understanding I suppose. It was hard to grasp the true nature of the place in 2 days, but that was my take. It can take you so far away from what you, as a Westerner, are used to, that I’ll bet it can be transformative.

We attended the aarti** on the river banks (ghat) to the music, chanting and prayer to the Hindu deities, including Hari Krishna. I felt like I was part of a George Harrison song and had traveled back in time to when I was barely a teenage.  With the flames being passed around, the colors (sky, water, clothes), the huge statue of Krishna in the Ganges, the appearance of the local yogi and the intensity of the people, it was something else.

END

*  The food is good, but not as healthy as Miraval. The pool and spa are just OK here. All-inclusive packages are available.

** the sunset observance similar to what we experienced in Varanasi

LINK TO ALL PHOTOS

josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco’s financial district

415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
with travel experts, a virtuoso member agency

Call Josh for details, excellent pricing & the ultimate in service

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Josh Friedman is a travel agent specializing in luxury travel for small groups and individuals – particularly ultra-luxury cruises, customized vacations and food & wine inspired journeys.  Based in San Francisco, and with clients throughout the USA, his business is focused on 24/7 personalized service to the sophisticated leisure and business traveler.  His personal  relationships with the world’s top hotels, cruise lines and local agencies often allows for exclusive amenities and VIP status. 

 If you’d like to learn more about luxury travel and our services, please contact Josh Friedman Luxury Travel in San Francisco’s Financial District via phone at 415.987.0372  or email: josh [at] joshfriedmantravel [dot] com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, too.

associated with travel experts, a virtuoso member and four seasons preferred partner, 201 spear st., ste 1100,  san francisco, ca 94105 cst# 2080753-40