Maui | Andaz at Wailea

I’ve been coming to Maui since the 80’s and first came to Wailea in 1985 when I stayed at the InterContinental (with free Pan Am points!) and had a very elegant dinner at the Renaissance.  The Renaissance was so snazzy that when we arrived we were seated and presented with our own personalized matches.

Fast forward 30 years and the InterContiental is now the Marriott (and is undergoing a major renovation) and the Renaissance, after having been closed for about a decade, is now the Andaz.

I’m typically not a fan of luxury divisions of multi-national hotel corporations.  Given the choice I suggest to my clients try a top independent hotel or one from a small chain such as Dorchester, Oetker, Maybourne, Rosewood, Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula or Belmond. Small Luxury Hotels and Relais & Chateau are collections of independently owned hotels and overall i like them too.  And the Mauna Kea on the Big Island which I’m visiting on this trip will make this list too. Four Seasons is quite different as they manage only luxury hotels, so they know what they’re doing.

Back to the Andaz. I was really impressed with my visit there  and was able to get the sense that even though they’re part of a large chain, and a brand (Andaz) that I don’t think is super focused, that this hotel has their act together and is a great example of a luxury hotel. Service levels are still significantly below that of the Four Seasons, but for most travelers, they’ll be good enough.

The rooms are modern, chic, sexy and a good size. Check out the photo in this post of their shower.  What you can’t see is the room is directly to the left of the shower and has a clear glass wall between them. Perfect for honeymooners. There are blinds too if you prefer!

The restaurant, Ka’ana Kitchen is equally as sexy. We only had brunch here (twice!). The layout and presentation are truly spectacular. The hostesses were wonderful and cuisine delicious, but the service was too ‘relaxed’ for my preference.  Overall though, awesome and worth the $47 price tag (oh, it’s free if you book with me!). The Four Seasons is $41 and not nearly as good (but that’s free too by booking with me).

The pools? There are 5 of them, including 1 adults only pool. The main 4 are 1 on top of each other, like I imagine the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to be. Very nice.

Loved the spa, too. Wish I had had time to use it.  Like the rest of the hotel (including their very cool 24/7 general grocery/coffee place) it’s very hipster and you can mix your own massage oil. Like that idea.

Suggested improvements?  I don’t like the daily resort fee, and I don’t like the separate cost to use the spa facilities. At prices equaling the Four Seasons, it takes away from the relaxed experience.  The price should be the price. For that matter, the FS shouldn’t charge for parking.


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 |
an independent affiliate of travel experts | a virtuoso agency

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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


Maybourne (Claridge’s) Hotels | Insider Update

Another wonderful small and very luxurious hotel company is the Maybourne Hotel Group.

I just had lunch with Andrew Jeffries, their Sales Manager based in the USA. And here’s a quick update on their 3 very special London hotels.

Claridge's LobbyClaridge’s is one of London’s most storied hotels, practically a second home to Buckingham Palace’s residents when they ran out of rooms. They even let me stay there about three years ago but alas I did not spy any Royals. Photo. The rooms are either a very old fashioned British style or a fabulously chic deco one. Suites designed by royal favorite Linley. In Mayfair walking distance from Hyde park or the designer shops on Bond Street.

The Connaught was recently and completely remodeled and the rooms and baths are quite modern, although many rooms retain a traditional feel. The hotel is quiet, done in dark wood, and the lobby small so you can sneak away to your room without the paparazzi bothering you .

Maybourne’s third hotel is The Berkeley, located in Kensington near Harrod’s and The Royal Albert Hall. The more casual and family friendly of the group, the suites and rooms were stunningly designed by Robert Angell, . Check out the large rooftop pool and London’s very happening Blue Bar, designed by David Collins. It’s where I had my first B&B.

Of course Josh Friedman Luxury Travel offers a complimentary breakfast, a food & beverage or spa credit of L.60 and an upgrade if available. And, of course and most importantly, a VIP intro from Yours Truly.

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


josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco’s financial district
415.987.0372 |
with travel experts, a virtuoso member agency

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[sign up for exclusive offers!]

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

Claridge’s London | New DVF Rooms

DVF for Claridge's
Diane von Furstenberg has designed a stunning
collection of rooms and suites
josh friedman luxury travel at casto
in san francisco’s financial district
415.248.5079 |
a virtuoso member agency

Virtuoso Travel Mart 2010 | Report from Bellagio

Every year for the last 20 something, the world’s top travel advisors have met annually with representatives of 5 star hotels, lodges, cruise lines and local speciality travel companies around the world. I attended this year’s event which just ended Thursday evening at Bellagio & Aria in Las Vegas.

Advisors and suppliers learn from each other and pass on their new learning to clients and/or to improve their products and services. All are members of Virtuoso, a by invitation only marketing group representing the creme de la creme of the travel industry. And quite a group it is.

But I think even more important, for me as a luxury travel advisor, is the one to one connection with these suppliers. Personalized luxury travel is different from mass market travel. If Joe Traveler books a one week Mexico package at a 3 star, or even a 5 star resort, they’re just another body filling a bed. Granted, the experience at a 5 star resort will be better, but nonetheless, there’s no personal connection between the traveler and the resort’s management.

However, when I meet a supplier at Travel Mart, or in my office, or at their hotel, and I get to know them, and they me — then that degree of separation from this traveler (my client) to the supplier is closed.

Meet some of my travel partners and see what I mean:

Take Guillaume from the Connaught Hotel in London. The Connaught is a traditional English hotel, recently refurbished, and a sister property to Claridge’s and the Berkeley. I met Guillaume a year ago when I was invited to stay at Claridge’s where he was the Food and Beverage manager. Now he’s the #2, or the Hotel Manager, at the Connaught. I can guarantee anybody booking that hotel with me that Guillaume will assure them a very memorable stay there. If on business, he’ll make sure his staff has simplified all necessary arrangements for a productive visit. And if for leisure, he’ll be sure theater tickets, restaurant reservations, guides and the like are handled beyond the guests expectations. Sure, Guillaume is a great guy, but the one-to-one cannot be underestimated.

Maita owns a local travel company in Argentina and arranges the most amazing customized luxury vacations of her home country (and neighboring ones) you can imagine. She’s put together 1) a 3 week vacation for a single adventure traveler who wanted to hike glaciers, explore Iguazu beyond the norm and climb mountains, 2) a 10 day customized & escorted tour of Chile and Argentina for a California winery club focusing on gourmet dining (in the Andes no less) and wine tastings and 3) a pre-cruise exploration of Buenos Aires with tango lessons, private guides and a day at an Estancia.

David is an Englishman now living in Hong Kong and owns, like Maita, a small company focused on providing the visitor to HK or China with a visit they’ll always fondly remember. He’s arranged pre and post cruise stays for my clients in Beijing, Shanghai & Hong Kong. But beyond the usual, because my clients have already been to these places before, he suggests places and activities (i.e. Jewish Shanghai, Hangzhou, Lamma), and the latest hotels. Do you know the Upper House on Hong Kong Island?

Christophe, Aiko, Peter & the Dorchester Collection
Christophe is the Director of Sales and Marketing of Le Meurice in Paris. It’s one of the the hotels in Paris, along with their sister property, Plaza Athenee (you can meet Peter there). They also own the Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan (Antonio), and of course their namesake, The Dorchester in London (Louise), and several more in the UK and USA. Kings, queens and my clients love these hotels. And so did Carrie Bradshaw for a few days. And I can guarantee that this team of amazing hotel professionals will do whatever it takes to ensure that your stay in their hotel, and in their city will be perfect. A Virtuoso saying — it’s the power of one to one.