Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage | Palm Springs

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Honolulu| Four Seasons Halekulani & Ritz-Carlton

I recently returned from Hawaii where I checked out most of the top luxury hotels in Maui, the Big Island and on Oahu (Honolulu and area).  Here are my thoughts about Oahu, from Waikiki to Ko Olina.

LOCATION*

Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina | On the beach, 20 miles west of the airport and 27 miles west of central Waikiki.

Halekulani | Bascially on the beach in central Waikiki, 8 miles east of the airport.

Royal Hawaiian | On the beach next door to Halekulali

Ritz Carlton Residences | A few blocks from the beach in central Waikiki, right up from both Halekulani and Royal Hawaiian

* Location: Why does it matter?  Ko Olina is pretty far from everything except the Disney hotel next door, some other time shares in the area and a small shopping center. You’re pretty much going to spend your vacation there, enjoying the facilities and their restaurants.  A  half-day trip to Pearl Harbor would be logical.  Waikiki is insanely busy with a lot of high end shopping geared for mostly Japanese tourists. But with that you get lots of restaurants and street buzz. There is also the very SOMA/SOHO type neighborhood in Chinatown  (very close to Waikiki) which is great for hipster bars and restaurants. This was a highlight of my trip, actually.

THE HOTELS AND RESORTS

Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina | I loved this place.  Other than being brand new, the rooms are large, bathrooms huge and sexy, balconies have views, great design throughout and they have Nespresso machines, the best type of pod coffee out there. Highlights include:

  • This is a fairly big resort (371 rooms) with a lot of floors in a 70s building which they’ve done a very good job of ‘lightening up.’ It’s a real 180 from the Four Seasons in Maui, Lanai or the Big Island, especially Hualalai.
  • Views facing east toward the pool, beach, ocean and the hotels down the beach or views facing west of natural beauty and the nearby  evening luau’s at Paradise Cove (which might be the only downside of this view, but I’d risk it)
  • Several restaurants to choose from including Italian (yum, I enjoyed) Fish, Asian & Pool (yum, I love my burgers and friendly bartenders)
  • Fitness.  Tennis – lots of it.  And a gym which is currently being expanded
  • Spa. I thought the spa was just OK as it’s not be redone.
  • Beach. This is shared with Disney’s Aulani next door and there is a rope separating the two.  The Four Seasons has beach chairs and beach service and that’s great. Nearby pool is fine.
  • Adult pool.  Super nice.  This is a brand new very quiet infinity pool on the side of the resort away from the beach. I could have spent all day here. Tres chic.
  • Rooms.  Huge contemporary rooms with huge bathrooms.  Very modern. Very sexy. Overall my favorite rooms between the other Four Seasons (but I haven’t seen the new rooms at Four Seasons Manele Bay in Lanai yet and I hear they’re incredible.)

Halekulani | The history of this hotel goes back decades and has a prime location with truly spectacular views of Diamond Head from some of the rooms and from the pool.  The current building is from around 1980. My thoughts:

  • Service is exceptional and very old fashioned. It’s almost like you’re not in Hawaii though. No Aloha shirts here   – it’s dark suits.
  • They put a lot of effort into their restaurants, and the view from Orchids is pretty wonderful. Of course, any view of Diamond Head is wonderful.
  • Their signature Orchid pool is elegant with their ‘famous’ sunset cocktail hour with hula and ukulele right there. I even had a view of this (& the ocean) from my 15th Floor room.
  • The beach is accessible from the pool area and is right there, so you can walk as far as you’d like to.
  • I’d strongly recommend that I book you a Diamond Head view.

Ritz Carlton Residences | A few blocks from the beach in central Waikiki, right up from both Halekulani and Royal Hawaiian sits the first of two combination residence/hotel towers of the Ritz-Carlton.  It just opened in July 2016.

What I liked: If you want to be in Waikiki, the rooms (which all have a kitchen or kitchenette and washer/dryer) are really nice.  They’re brand new, very light and airy  and have a contemporary theme.  The views, either toward the ocean or mountains, are wonderful. They have the first acclaimed Sushi Sho outside of Japan but it’s $300 a person.

What I didn’t like:  Architecturally, it’s attractive but massive, and it’s only half built! It appears out of place, even for Waikiki.   And because it’s only half built the facilties for its 307 rooms aren’t really ready for prime time. The pool is tiny and restaurants are minimal (just one other than Sushi Sho). But it is Waikiki and there are plenty of places nearby.

Royal Hawaiian | I didn’t see the rooms here, but the public areas are truly unique and a throwback to the early 20th century when the hotel was built.   It’s called the Pink Palace for a reason.  Even with 528 rooms, it didn’t seem overwhelmed or too commercial like the nearby Moana Surfrider, a Starwood 4 star property down Kalakaua, the main drag.

The Kahala | I did not visit.

 

Other Reviews from my September visit to Hawaii:

Maui / Four Seasons at Wailea
Maui / Andaz at Wailea
Maui / Hotel Wailea Relais and Chateau
Big Island / Four Seasons Hualalai
Big Island / Mauna Kea

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

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

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 | joshfriedmantravel.com
an independent affiliate of travel experts | a virtuoso agency

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

Ritz Carlton Singapore | Luxury Reviewed

I’ve posted blogs in the past from my Ritz Carlton sales rep extraordinaire Jeremy. Here’s his latest:

Me again  J !  This jet lag and I are in an epic battle….and unfortunately I am losing….awake at3am again.  Never one to “waste time,” I worked to capture my thoughts on the 36 hours I spent in Singapore while enjoying several cups of coffee this morning.  As I ponder my time in Singapore, there are a few key words that continue to resonate in my memories….dynamic, crisp and clean.

Dynamic: The city continues to grow and reinvent itself to meet the needs of its people and today’s economic environment.  Did you know that when couples get married they file a housing permit request and in two years…they will be granted a new apartment?  Zoning has already been completed for these apartment structures and the city literally builds based upon demand to ensure that the needs of its people are met while not taking away from natural resources

Crisp: While the word efficient probably could have the same meaning…I thought crisp more appropriate as it seemed light and refreshing…similar to the mood of Singapore.  Everyone seems to truly delight in the mechanics of the city that create a harmonious balance between city and nature.

Clean:  Truly….the absolute cleanest city I have ever seen!   No graffiti, trash, etc anywhere!

While Singapore is a great place for long layovers, I would encourage you to make the city more than a logistics hub.  Make sure that when you send your guests that they plan appropriately and spend a few days in Singapore so as not to mention the offerings of The Ritz-Carlton and all that this dynamic, crisp and clean state have to offer.

The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore:

  • Located in the heart of the Marina Bay neighborhood, The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore is the second largest Ritz-Carlton property globally with 608 guestrooms and suites featuring fresh, contemporary décor focused on maximizing the views of the gorgeous, crisp city skyline.
  • While I know that many suppliers have a tendency to focus on features….I would be remiss if I did not mention the deep soaking tubs that have the most gorgeous views of the marina and cityscape
  • Over 4,200 pieces of gorgeously curated art installations that showcase the sophistication and elegance of the hotel.  From Dale Chihuly to Andy Warhol, guests have access to a range of works.
  • The Summer Pavilion – While Michelin is just starting to make their first foray into Singapore, let me be the first to tell you how gorgeous this fine Chinese dining restaurant is for guests craving Far East flavors.  As with most authentic Chinese restaurants in Asia, dining is enjoyed in private rooms perfect for special occasions.  My favorite dishes were the deep-fried stuffed crab shell with crab meat, mushrooms and onions as well as the chilled fresh avocado pudding!
  • An oasis in the heart of the city, the Spa at The Ritz-Carlton is in the process of a series of enhancements that will see the first La Mer outpost in Singapore.  Guests can also be lazy for the day and bask in the tropical sunshine of the outdoor pool that offers a lush tropical setting in the heart of the hustle and bustle of Singapore
  • The Club Lounge is more like a Club Floor!  Perfectly situated once again to maximize the views of the city; the standard food and beverage presentations are complemented by chef attended action stations

 

Personal Notes:

  • Singapore is a crisp, clean city state that is focused on moving forward and maintaining its position as the gateway to Southeast Asia…however there are still glimpses of a cultural past available in the city.  The Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery dates back to the nineteenth century  and has a unique blend of architectural styles from the Fujian and Guangdong province in southern China
  • Children are always extended a warm welcome with a variety of Ritz Kids options that range from ice cream passes for a daily treat to weekend pool side activities
  • With many sections designated as national heritage sites, the Chinatown area of Singapore embraces baroque and Victorian architecture that have been melded with Chinese influences.  This is the perfect destination for fun shopping and people watching!
  • Gardens by the Bay!  With a focus on environmental sustainability, Gardens by the Bay is a nature park adjacent to the Marina Reservoir built on reclaimed land.  Acting as an urban recreation space, there are several key elements that include a Supertree Grove, a Cloud Forest and Flower Dome.
  • Located adjacent to The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore; The Singapore Flyer (similar to the London Eye) offers a 40 minute journey that is the perfect showcase of the skyline.
  • Rev Up with the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix!  Held in September, this global sporting event creates a party type atmosphere in the city and The Ritz-Carlton is perfectly positioned to see all elements of the race and take in the celebration

 

josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
an independent affiliate of travel experts | a virtuoso agency

facebook  twitter  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.

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 Bali | Ritz Carlton Reserve and Bulgari

I’ve posted blogs in the past from my Ritz Carlton sales rep extraordinaire Jeremy. Here’s his latest:

As my family and I continue this cruise and make our way back to Washington, DC I find myself thinking about my adventure in Bali and how fortunate I am to have journeyed to the Island of the Gods.  Such a mystical place that is so rich in tradition and spiritualism…but I have found that only when I slow down can I truly reflect on the experience and hopefully capture the sentiment into words.

Ubud is truly a spiritual place and it is not uncommon to pass temple after temple along the road or trees, statues or other items draped in black and white checked cloth.  A little interesting fact that I learned on my trip to Bali is that while Ubud may actually seem like one little town, it is actually 14 small villages each run by their own committee and all incorporate small temples and places where offerings may be made and left for the Gods.  These villages are home to the most gorgeous people who are almost innocent in a way…but always kind and always greet you with a smile.  This is the heart of culture for the island and home to some of the most amazing arts and crafts in the world.  From wood carvings to fabrics, visiting this area of Bali is a must and should be paired with a stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Bali in Nusa Dua or The BVLGARI Bali in Aluwatu.

Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve:

  • Expertly woven into the cliff of a gorge, Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve offers both suite and villa accommodation.

o   The suites are extremely large and feature local product and indigenous design elements with either king or twin/twin configuration

o   The villas are located along the working rice paddy or the Ayung River and also feature gorgeous design elements intrinsic to Ubud as well as private plunge pools.  Your choice of one bedroom, two bedroom or three bedroom villas is available at Mandapa.  Please see the attached overview highlighting the various accommodation options

  • Green Camp:  While you may think that the Reserve product is not family friendly due to the romantic location in Ubud…please think again. In keeping with the ideals of sustainability and education, Mandapa offers the Green Camp experience where children can play under supervision and make crafts for their parents.  There are even chickens, rabbits and a cow that call the Green Camp home and children light up when it is feeding time!
  • Kubu at Mandapa: This is truly the signature dining experience for the property…and probably one of the most spectacular venues I have ever seen.  Imagine handcrafted cocoons perfectly situated along the cascading Ayung River!  Super romantic, super fun and super intimate…only outdone by the gastronomic wonders from the kitchen
  • Subak Farming and Rice Planting: The Reserve concept is all about authentic experiences and at Mandapa there is actually a working rice field in the heart of the resort.  Guests can learn from the Ladies and Gentlemen about the rice culture and truly understand the importance of rice as part of the identity of Ubud.

Personal Notes:

  • Yoga!  Trust me…I am about as flexible as a rock, but given that I was in Bali, I woke up early for the sunrise yoga and the experience was magical.  First about the yoga – while I thought it was really just a bunch of stretching, I can assure you that I got a great workout and was sweating by the end of the hour….so for all your customers who go to the gym…this is an amazing workout!  Beyond the fitness aspect is the serene sense of place in having the rippling sound of the Ayung River in the background and the lush green of the gorge and rice paddies.  This is an early experience not to be missed!
  • John Hardy!  I must confess that I did not know who John Hardy was before traveling to Bali.  Honestly, I thought all the ladies with me kept talking about the clothes designer famous for skull and crossbones….and I couldn’t understand their fascination and basically kept my mouth shut from asking questions (for those who don’t know…the skull and crossbones designs is Ed Hardy)J.  Wow, was I in for a surprise to see the “temple” to silver and the gorgeous handcrafted creations of the Balinese silversmiths.  For anyone, man or woman who loves gorgeous hand crafted jewelry…this is a journey that should not be missed and is only about 20 minutes from Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
  • Segara Windhu Coffee Plantation:  Probably a well-known fact is that the most expensive coffee in the world hails from Bali.  I am confident you all know the process by which these coffee beans are processed by feral cat digestion, before being ground into coffee.  I have to tell the truth…I did not try the coffee, but hear that it was remarkable.  I know I know…but I just couldn’t do it.  That said, the team at Mandapa crafted gorgeous “boxed luncheons” that we enjoyed at the outdoor pavilion of the plantation.  When I say crafted….I mean…they literally handmade the boxes and every food ‘wrapper” from banana leaves for the most eco-friendly, gorgeous lunchbox I have ever seen!
  • VW Vintage Tour!  This was so cool and totally of the Reserve concept!  Did you know that Volkswagen once made a car called “The Thing” in the 1950’s?  Apparently there is a whole fleet of well-preserved cars in Bali and they are available for a vintage tour of the Ubud landscape to include local temples to include Tirta Empul and Gunung Kawi
  • Facebook Moment!  Make sure that you travel to the Tegalalang Rice Fields for the iconic terraced rice paddy photo shoot.  This is the total “Eat.  Pray.  Love” backdrop!

josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
an independent affiliate of travel experts | a virtuoso agency
facebook  twitter  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.

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

Ritz Carlton Geneva | Hotel de la Paix

Now a Ritz Carlton partner hotel.

I’ve posted blogs in the past from my Ritz Carlton sales rep extradonaire Jeremy. Here’s his latest:

The Hotel de la Paix.  Built in 1865 and named, The Peace Hotel, the property has witnessed a host of historic events.  One of the most interesting is that in 1872 the hotel hosted an international arbitration panel to process the Alabama claims.  A little interesting history…the Alabama Claims were a series of demands for damages, sought by the United States government from the British government in 1869, for the attacks upon American merchant ships by the CSS Alabama and similar warships, built secretly in Britain and sold to the Confederate States Navy during the American Civil War.  The room where the treaty was signed is named The Alabama Salon and in a world today with so much turmoil…I think it is kind of special to know that this new Ritz-Carlton hotel offers a legacy of peace.

With the Hotel de la Paix now flying The Ritz-Carlton flag, the property will undergo a massive guest room transformation that will elevate the 75 guest rooms and suites to a contemporary, warm and inviting boutique experience very focused on personal interaction between guest and hotelier.

The Hotel de la Paix, a Ritz-Carlton Partner Hotel:

  • While all the luxury hotels in the city are situated on Quai du Mont-Blanc, The Hotel de la Paix occupies the premier position on the street with the most gorgeous panoramic views of Lake Geneva, majestic Mont Blanc, The Jet d’Eau and the skyline of the city featuring the many marquis of the luxury brands that make Geneva a shopping paradise
  • Approximately 70% of the guestrooms and suites enjoy lake views while the remaining 30% overlook a leafy courtyard that is very pleasant and peaceful
  • Grace Kelly once stayed at the hotel and her presence is felt today as she has a commemorative suite named in her honor
  • Once the guest room renovation concludes in late 2016, the hotel will be re-launched as The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva.  Until that time, the property is operating as a partner hotel.

Geneva Insights and Recommendations:

  • Geneva is known for being the gateway to the magnificent Swiss and French countryside.  Perfect for taking in the summer landscapes or the world class skiing available at Chamonix, les Houches, La Clusaz, St Gervais, and Courchevel
  • With the most international organizations calling Geneva home; the city is known as the worldwide center of diplomacy.  Such organizations include the United Nations, The Red Cross and World Trade Organization
  • While many people travel to Geneva on business, there is a host of interesting leisure sights that are not to be missed:

o   The Brunswick Monument – The final resting place of the Duke of Brunswick who endowed the city of Geneva upon his passing

o   The Flower Clock – Located in the English Garden, this symbol celebrates the world famous Swiss watch making industry

o   Saint-Peter Cathedral – The main Protestant place of worship that was built in the 12th and 13th century

o   The United Nations Building – Originally built to accommodate the League of Nations; the building now houses the European Headquarters of the United Nations

 

Restaurants

While I only had about 48 hours in the city, I can definitely recommend two wonderful restaurants for your guests:

CIBUS Restaurant: Located on the Quai Gustave-Ador and helmed by the wonderful Ernesta Nobile D’Addario; CIBUS offers a warm, cozy and casual atmosphere with some of the best pasta dishes I have ever experienced

Vertig’O:  In honoring this restaurant with one Michelin Star, the inspector offered the perfect quote that sums up this amazing dining experience at The Ritz-Carlton:  “Despite its name, you will experience no Hitchcock-like fear in this restaurant, where the cuisine is the only thing likely to raise your heartbeat. The dishes are beautifully presented and deceptively simple, allowing the flavour of the ingredients to shine through.”

josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
an independent affiliate of travel experts | a virtuoso agency
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, excellent pricing, the ultimate in service & exclusive hotel amenities with Virtuoso.

 

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

 

Josh Friedman Luxury Travel | San Francisco

Ritz Carlton Brands Update

My awesome sales contact for Ritz Carlton Jeremy just gave me a brief update on what’s up with the company. By the way “Ritz” encompasses 4 brands:  Ritz-Carlton, Bulgari, Edition and Ritz Carlton Reserve.

Enjoy this quick read and let me know if you have any questions by commenting on this blog or by sending me an email.

Ritz-Carlton  | Luxury, family, multi-generational. What you’re used to.
– Have Ritz Kids at resort destinations including a partnership with Cousteau.
– Complimentary electric car charging + Tesla partnership. On a personal note, their newly designed San Francisco hotel is very good. It’s fun, relaxed, elegant. Our agency is also part of Ritz’s STARS network for top agencies offering our client an extra level of attention. Most of their hotels are also part of our Virtuoso program of complimentary perks.

Bulgari Hotels & Resort | Over the top, Ultra luxe, a little Italian. On a personal note I can tell you I visited the Bulgari in New York a few months ago and it was oppulent & flashy. Fun for a certain crowd.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve |For the next best destination. Barefoot experience and the journey to get there is just as important as the stay. On a personal note, I’d for sure stay here. There aren’t that many but I’d go to Malaysia or Puerto Rico to stay at one. Cabo (Mexico) is coming and that will give One & Only Palmilla and Pedregal some more competition.

Edition | The experience is on par with the room.  On a personal note, I haven’t seen one, but it’s their hip brand. 

josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
an independent affiliate of travel experts | a virtuoso agency

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, excellent pricing, the ultimate in service & exclusive hotel amenities with Virtuoso.

 

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

 

Josh Friedman Luxury Travel | San Francisco

San Francisco | Ritz Carlton Update

 . . .and what to do when you’re here in SF.

Being a local, it’s kind of cute to hear what people say about San Francisco. Or in this case, which songs a visit brings to mind.  So here you go, from my Ritz Carlton sales representative and gentleman extraordinaire, Jeremy. And when you book your plane tickets call me for your Ritz reservation. Besides a free breakfast, some other exclusive perks and much TLC we can offer a little bit on the ‘what to do’ side…   Josh

I’m heading for that golden gate hoping I won’t be too late,
to find the one that I still love.
It’s you I’m dreaming of, San Francisco nights.
San Francisco days, San Francisco nights.
San Francisco days, San Francisco nights.
San Francisco……….

San Francisco…The City by the Bay.  This singular destination has inspired songwriters, artists, writers and of course….travelers.

While I have been to San Francisco several times, I will candidly say that each time I visit I notice new and exciting features that compel me to embrace this city as one of my favorite destinations.  From a city that continues to grow and evolve as the hub of the dot com industry to one that exudes European sophistication and charm…where people take time for themselves and enjoy the numerous cafes and restaurants that line every corner.  On this trip, I spent more time around the bay and noticed the influences of the bay and the micro-climates on the city than ever before…and it was magical.  There are so many reasons to visit San Francisco and the surrounding areas…and one of the best, is the opportunity to combine a town and country experience with The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco and The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay.  These two iconic properties have just emerged from transformational renovations where the magic of the destination is now displayed throughout the décor and offerings of each hotel.

The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

  • Drawing inspiration from the Bay and the city’s iconic fog, the hotel’s 336 guest rooms, inclusive of 60 suites, have been reborn in palettes of steely blues and greys, while furnishings take their cues from the alluring designs of couture fashion and men’s fine tailoring
  • The new guest rooms complete the historic landmark’s multi-phase renovation that began with the re-opening of its signature restaurant, Parallel 37, in December 2011, the unveiling of the lobby and The Lounge in February 2012, and the completion of its new meeting spaces and ballroom in September 2014
  • Virtual concierges are now available on the lobby level offering guests access to maps and information about local restaurants and events

The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

  • The hotel offers 261 guest rooms and suites where 2/3 of the keys features ocean or coast lines views.  Guest have the choice of selecting from either the main building of the guests house for their residence. Important note: The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay is pet friendly but only for guest house offerings
  • Inspired by the cool tones of grey and blue from the neighboring Pacific Ocean, mixed with beachside accents such as pickled wood entry floors and driftwood inspired night stands, the enhanced guestrooms radiate a sense of a California coastal estate
  • For an added level of luxury, The Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge has also been enhanced.  Located on the fifth floor with stunning views on the Ocean Lawn and the Pacific coastline, the lounge has been opened up to provide more access to the gorgeous views of the coastline

Special Notes from My Journey

  • Heard of the famous “Painted Ladies” in San Francisco?!?  The iconic cluster of row homes made famous by many television shows?!  Well, I actually learned that there are painted ladies all over San Francisco.  Any Victorian era row home that has three or more colors of paint are considered a painted lady.  Who knew!?  On a side note…for architecture lovers…there are over 14,000 Victorian homes left in san Francisco.
  • Visit Café Zoetrope, located at 916 Kearney Street.  Named after Francis Ford Copola’s production company, this restaurant offers wonderful Italian fare that should not be missed.
  • The Buena Vista Café for the most amazing Irish Coffee!
  • The best pizza in the city can be found at Tony’s Pizzeria Napoletana.  The restaurant is home base of 11 time World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani.
  • Shopping lover?!?!  Guests will love the shops at Union Square or Fillmore Street…however for more eclectic choices head to the Hayes Valley neighborhood
  • Best photo op of the Golden Gate Bridge is from the Marin Headlands!  Not to be missed!!!
  • The Coastline Trail is the best kept secret for guests visiting Half Moon Bay.  It offers sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, access to several beaches and excellent nature viewing…including bird watching
  • An absolute destination MUST….Cioppino Seafood stew at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay.  The heartiness is only exceeded by the beautiful vistas available from Navio Restaurant
  • Enjoy your own private “Sideways” experience in the comfort of The Ritz-Carlton.  Eno Wine Bar is a gorgeous venue for tine flights and tastings by two heralded sommeliers.

 

 

Please remember that these two properties combined created a gorgeous itinerary for guests to enjoy a “Little Town and Country by the Bay.”

josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
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, excellent pricing, the ultimate in service & exclusive hotel amenities with Virtuoso.

 

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

 

Josh Friedman Luxury Travel | San Francisco

 

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

Top Miami Ft. Lauderdale Hotels | Reviews

Miami | Four Seasons

A very modern high rise in the Brickel area adjacent to downtown. Clean lines. Minimalist. Great feel for the location with outrageous views and uber-sports facilities.

  • Occupies the top floors of South Florida’s highest building for killer views.
  • Guest have the use of the massive Sports Club/LA facility. A gym rat’s dream.
  • The swimming pool is equally huge. Invite 200 of your best friends or swim laps in the early AM.
  • Rooms are big and very comfortable. Light. Nothing too trendy.
  • If booked through our agency, you’ll receive a fabulous free breakfast,  upgrade if available and likely another very nice amenity. Preferred Partner program.
  • Personally inspected by Josh Friedman in November 2010.

Miami | Mandarin Oriental

  • I haven’t seen this hotel but I understand it’s a very hot spot, a bit trendier than the Four Seasons and not too far from it either.
  • If booked through our agency, you’ll receive a fabulous free breakfast,  upgrade if available and likely another very nice amenity.

Miami Beach | The Setai

South Beach’s super cool Asian inspired oasis of sophistication and tranquility. Like the Four Seasons, outrageous views in this sexy skyscraper hotel with huge 1 and 2 bedroom units.

  • The space in the studio, 1 and 2 bedroom unites is a huge plus for those wanting to entertain or just spread out.
  • The dark wood floors and wall of glass creates a killer aesthetic.
  • The lobby bar is stunning and where I’d be hanging out. Or maybe at the Balinese courtyard.
  • The restaurant transports you to 19th century Shanghai with an unusual breakfast buffet with about 30 choices.
  • 3 simple rectangular swimming pools and a restaurant on the beach.
  • If booked through our agency, you’ll receive a fabulous free breakfast,  upgrade if available and likely another very nice amenity.
  • Spa suites for 2 that are perfect for a couple of blissful hours. Small gym as well.
  • Personally inspected by Josh Friedman in November 2010.

Miami Beach | The Ritz Carlton South Beach

Formerly the swanky 1950s di Lido, Ritz added a few floors, ocean front balconies, 2 wings where once stood pool side cabanas and magnificently restored the lobby with a modern flair. I think I’d just live in the lobby and go up the Club Lounge to enjoy the view and get a snack.

  • Directly on the beach and steps from all the action. From nightlife to Lincoln Road shopping.  A short cab ride to Joe’s Stone Crabs.
  • Club Level lounge has 5 food spreads a day and floor to ceiling windows with sweeping ocean and north city views.
  • Poolside cabanas available to rent for the day.
  • The rooms are a little on the smaller side and more conservative than the Setai.
  • If booked through our agency, you’ll receive a fabulous free breakfast,  upgrade if available and likely another very nice amenity. Preferred Agency.
  • Personally inspected by Josh Friedman in November 2010.

Miami Beach | The Villa by Barton G

Wow! This is a WOW hotel and one of the most unique hotels anywhere in the world. Really. And I’ve been a lot of places. Formerly Gianni Versace’s residence on Ocean Drive, it recently opened more than 10 years after the designer’s death.

  • [for now i cannot recommend it due to service issues. too bad.]

Ft. Lauderdale | The Atlantic


I think if you’re going to take a cruise out of Port Everglades, you might as well enjoy a bit of the beach before you go. This is a little town – just a few blocks long — and has a really nice beach. This is a luxury boutique hotel and it’s great.

  • This hotel is right in the middle of it all towards the northern end of downtown.
  • The lobby is New York chic (read black) so it’s a nice change from the overly white and sea shell studded Ritz Carlton.
  • Service levels were moderately good, but my quick trip to the Ritz was impressive.
  • Rooms are huge. Bathrooms are massive. Views great. Sheets, towels and products all top. Nice clean look.
  • Gym is nice, modern and big enough – and sunny! Spa is across the way.
  • Pool is crowded and rather small. I’d go to the beach.
  • Our exclusive rates include upgrades and breakfast which is served either inside or outside across from the beach. Very nice but noisy due to cars.
  • None of the hotels are on the beach  – the beach is on the beach. So you have to cross over. No big deal, but the traffic can be a bit noisy so the higher up the better.

The Ritz Carlton | Ft. Lauderdale

Opened as the St. Regis just a few years ago. It’s big and reminds me of a typical luxury beach hotel.  It’s nice but nothing out of the ordinary.  Pool area is really nice – big with lots of space for sunning – and has an ocean view. The little service we experienced in the lobby (trying to find the bar) was excellent. Very friendly and over-delivered. Bartender was OK.

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

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

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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 casto, a virtuoso member and four seasons preferred partner, 500 sansome st., san francisco, ca 94111 cst#1008439-10

[this was originally published in december, 2010]