Artisans of Leisure creates high-end tours for families

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NEW YORK -- The confluence of the high-end and family travel markets is creating an expansive pool of clientele for tour operators. Artisans of Leisure, a specialist in high-end, custom-tailored programs, has been angling for a chunk of that conjoined market since the companys founding two years ago.

According to Ashley Ganz, owner and president, the New York-based company draws high-end clientele with published itineraries, then alters the agendas based on what customers want.

Ganz said the companys family programs are some of its most successful, leading her to make the new, 12-night China for Families a published tour. So many of our clients were taking it, she said.

Ganz said the company works almost exclusively with families, couples and groups of friends, and that everything we do is FIT.

The 12-night China for Families tour includes nine major destinations: Beijing, the Great Wall, Xian, Guilin, Yangshuo, Hangzhou, Xitang, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The trip includes visits to the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven in Beijing and the terra-cotta warriors in Xian; cruising in a traditional wooden boat in Xitang; 21st-century skyscrapers and colonial architecture in Shanghai; and a tea plantation in Hangzhou.

The price of the tour is $7,920 per person, double, including customized itinerary planning, luxury hotels, flexible cultural touring with private guides and drivers, restaurant reservations, regional flights, airport transfers, visa and admission fees.

Both luxury and family travel have grown every year since Ganz has been working in the industry, she said, and the growth picked up after 9/11.

I do think the two trends are connected, said Ganz, who learned the business during a seven-year stint with Absolute Asia, where she served as director of marketing and business development.

Travelers are willing to pay more to feel safer, in addition to getting what their families want. Safety and security are issues the luxury traveler considers.

Ganz said the Internet has opened up more options for luxury clients and more competition for sellers of travel, which behooves operators and agents to stay on top of their game.

A luxury traveler doesnt have a lot of time, so they are going to go to travel agents and tour operators and trust them as their representatives to deliver a product that represents the clients interests, she said. Rather than having to deal with separate suppliers, they choose their tour operator based on what it is delivering.

What her clients want along with private touring and all the flexibility that entails, Ganz said, are cultural tours -- a real cultural element with a lot of special-interest components incorporated.

They want to appreciate the architecture, the cuisine, the interesting neighborhoods, she said. They want to go far beyond the famous attractions.

For more information, call (800) 214-8144 or visit www.artisansofleisure.com.

To contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].

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