6 East Coast Golf Getaways That Prove Rankings Don't Mean Everything

6 East Coast Golf Getaways That Prove Rankings Don't Mean Everything

Written by David Gould, a former Executive Editor of Travel + Leisure Golf who has authored several books on golf history and course architecture.

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One evening I stood in a tavern among a group of well-traveled golf writers, talking shop. An avid golfer who had joined the conversation floated a query: After all the years and all the trips, which course is your favorite? He seemed puzzled by the answers, likely because “favorite” wasn’t taken to be synonymous with “famous” or “award-winning.” Instead we each named a very fine course we had developed a fondness for, where we’d met great people and enjoyed experiences we wouldn’t ever forget.

Golfers who aren’t fixated on rankings and ratings can develop an instinct for golf destinations that will suit their fancy. There’s nothing wrong with prestige and awards—you just don’t want to be a slave to them. What works best is when you have a hunch you’re going to love a certain golf experience, then you set off and discover your intuition was spot-on.

This collection of a half-dozen courses along the Eastern Seaboard—each worthy of a chartered golf getaway with Tradewind Aviation—does contain greatness. Yet it’s mainly a sixth-sense kind of list, blending elements of architecture, setting, scenery, and some kind of spirit that holds it all together.

Photo: Courtesy of Cabot Links / Evan Schiller

Photo: Courtesy of Cabot Links / Evan Schiller

Cabot Cliffs, Inverness, Nova Scotia, Canada: We’re not breaking the intuition rule by including Cabot Cliffs, despite all the acclaim it’s received since coming online two years ago. That’s because the Canadian Maritimes are physically remote and their character is unassuming—you have to feel drawn there. Of course, having a chartered private jet fixes the remote part, delivering you to a jaw-dropping golf landscape overlaid with the strategic subtleties its designers, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, specialize in. They built one hole—the cliff-to-cliff par-3 No. 16—that no golfer has ever played without first photographing it. If you take this trip there is one place to stay, the Cabot Links Lodge—well-designed, comfortable, and just right for its time and place. Time your Nova Scotia getaway for midsummer and you can see classic MGs, Austin Healys, and Triumph TR6s, plus vintage motorcycles, at the Eighth Annual British Motoring Festival, July 14-16.

Photo: Nemacolin Woodlands Resort

Photo: Nemacolin Woodlands Resort

Shepherd’s Rock, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Farmington, PA:  You can be sure your sixth sense for sublime golf travel is working when you lock on to a course that isn’t even open yet. Beginning July 12, golf pilgrims can immerse themselves in the pure Pete Dye-ness of Shepherd’s Rock, the newest addition to this luxurious resort on 2,000 acres southeast of Pittsburgh. Modern earth-moving equipment can create landscape perfection; Dye understood this wasn’t desirable and spent a career making sure to exploit the quirks and peculiarities of natural terrain. There’s beauty throughout his courses, but never an overt glamour. Dye has a second course at Nemacolin, and the outdoor activities here are endless. For indoor enthusiasts, there’s a casino and multiple spas, plus a fine array of dining options.

Photo: Stowe Mountain Resort

Photo: Stowe Mountain Resort

Stowe Mountain Club, Stowe Resort, Stowe, VT: There’s nothing prettier than your own golf shot suspended in the air against a mountain vista on a long, downhill hole. This high-country course in the shadow of Mount Mansfield gives you several of those moments, most notably on the plunging par-3 16th. It took a design genius like Bob Cupp—he was a book illustrator and a master cabinet-maker, as well as a course architect—to wrangle this sloping, chasm-laced topography into 18 wonderfully playable holes. Lodge guests also have privileges at Stowe Country Club, built on more level ground but with wonderful views nonetheless. A summer highlight for locals and visitors is the Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival, July 7-9; it’s a chance to see something almost as pretty as your golf shot, pinned against the ridgelines and peaks.

Note: Tradewind’s Ultimate Golf package can accommodate your entire trip to Stowe, thanks to a new partnership with Stowe Mountain Club. As part of a two-day getaway aboard an eight-person private charter, enjoy unlimited golf access to both Stowe Mountain Club and Stowe Country Club, luxury accommodations at Stowe Mountain Lodge with views of Mount Mansfield, group lunch at The Cottage at Stowe Mountain Club, curated gift bags, and four-packs of Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine local craft beer. For more information or to reserve, please contact [email protected] or 802-760-4703.

Photo: Courtesy of Keswick Hall & Golf Club / Ken May

Photo: Courtesy of Keswick Hall & Golf Club / Ken May

Full Cry, Keswick Hall, Charlottesville, VA: The classic manor-style building on high ground with a green expanse of fairways spreading out below—there’s no combination of those two elements more pleasing than what you’ll find at this stylish resort in fox-and-hounds country outside the university town of Charlottesville. Full Cry (that’s hunt-club vernacular) is an original name for a golf course, and this layout is loaded with originality and character—again courtesy of Pete Dye. Inside the beautifully restored Italianate hostelry, Keswick Hall, are just 48 guest rooms, each individually decorated. The place was in shambles until Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of design queen Laura Ashley, arrived bearing capital and good taste in 1995. Present ownership has taken it far beyond what even his lordship had achieved.

Photo: Omni Grove Park Inn

Photo: Omni Grove Park Inn

The Omni Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC: Artsy and outdoorsy, but still with traditional Southern graces, Asheville belongs on any summertime pleasure tour. Guests at the Grove Park Inn return each year for the golf, great dining, and country hospitality. Donald Ross, a Johnny Appleseed of superior course-building, laid out the beloved Omni Grove Park Inn links in 1926, when shovels and mules were all you had to sculpt with—natural, unforced contours are the result. And while the craft beer movement and its bespoke breweries have sprouted all across the country, few cities can compete with Asheville, a suds mecca with more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the U.S. There is no end of ways to explore its malty wonders, including a half-day bus tour with many a tasting stop. Cheers.

Photo: Courtesy of The Sea Pines Resort / Rob Tipton

Photo: Courtesy of The Sea Pines Resort / Rob Tipton

Atlantic Dunes, The Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head, SC: The concept of the resort golf community originated with Sea Pines, which retains a vague ‘60s-era imprint even as it continually updates and renovates itself. One of the courses was recently plowed under to make way for Atlantic Dunes, which opened last year and brought yet another round of acclaim to the course design group of Davis Love III (who as a player won the PGA Tour event at Sea Pines five times). Atlantic Dunes is visually sleek and stylish, with large greens, new and restored sand dunes, and little touches like crushed coquina shells and waving seaside grasses to frame the holes. For all the dozens of trips I’ve made to this resort, I’ve not yet had a chance to experience Atlantic Dunes. And yet I know instinctively that I would have a great time playing it.

 

*Featured Image: Nemacolin Woodlands Resort

On Deck with Sail Boston Executive Director Dusty Rhodes

On Deck with Sail Boston Executive Director Dusty Rhodes

Flying into Boston in mid-June? Make sure you look down.

A fabled fleet of tall ships with billowing spinnakers and streaming pennants, some that logged thousands of miles from across the seven seas, converge for Sail Boston in a glorious gam.

Part of the international Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, the six-day festival from June 17th through 22nd is the closest you can get to nautical nirvana without weighing anchor and embarking for distant ports.

“It’s the greatest show on surf,” says organizer Dusty Rhodes, and she should know.

Rhodes, Executive Director of Sail Boston 2017, is a prime architect of Boston’s vibrant, maritime spectacles. With an irresistible siren call, she began attracting processions of tall ships into Boston Harbor in 1992.

Dusty Rhodes, President of Conventures, Inc., joined by Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Capt. John O'Connor.

Dusty Rhodes, President of Conventures, Inc., joined by Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Capt. John O'Connor.

Back then, the harbor, with its famed “dirty water,” was the city’s neglected and undervalued backyard. Today it’s more coveted than the Back Bay. High-wattage events like Sail Boston, and a heavy dose of real estate investments, have turned the harbor into the Boston’s shimmering front yard—a new nexus of vitality.

At the helm of Sail Boston, Rhodes has prodded and wooed the most regal ships to sail into Boston Harbor this summer. As President of Boston event planning and communications company Conventures, her command of the harbor provides juice to her juggling act.

“There are only a handful of ports in the world that can handle these ships,” says Rhodes of the stately armada of two-masted schooners, square riggers, barques, ketches, and cutters—50-plus ships in all—dropping anchor here.

“They come from multiple countries. Some are floating embassies,” she says.

Hence, it’s no simple feat to coordinate their convergence.

Rendez-Vous Tall Ships Regatta by Boston Sail

The Chilean ship took perseverance and persuasion. Nevertheless, she persisted.

“We had to lobby to get them to change their sailing schedule to come on a special time and date. It takes years of lobbying and political influence,” says the confident Rhodes.

It sounds a bit like staging the Olympics, but with a difference: “The Olympics is easier,” says Rhodes. “They have an organizing committee.”

Similar to a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, these magnificent ships from another age inspire a child-like awe when they emerge from the deep, sailing into town under nothing but wind power.

So when one of the most influential women in Boston suggests the best way to experience the biggest draw this summer, take her advice. (This is on your bucket list; you just don’t know it yet).

Rendez-Vous Tall Ships Regatta by Boston Sail

“You want exclusivity?” she asks. Sign up for a deck reception to land that skittish client.

“It’s like the Kentucky Derby on steroids,” says Rhodes. Hats optional.

Imagine boarding a historic schooner, as the ship’s whistle heralds your arrival. Relax on the deck and entertain like an admiral.

Instead of sipping a mint julep at Churchill Downs, you could be enjoying a dark and stormy on a tall ship in Boston Harbor.

“It's a once in a lifetime experience; you don’t find that on the 19th hole of a golf course," says Rhodes.

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Most of the events are free, but you can buy tickets to the Parade of Sail grandstand on June 17th for $125 each at http://www.sailboston.com. To book a deck party, email [email protected].

 

*All photos courtesy of Sail Boston

9 Places to Eat this Summer on Martha’s Vineyard

9 Places to Eat this Summer on Martha’s Vineyard

There’s nothing quite like summer in the Vineyard. The island’s coastal charm extends from tranquil, lighthouse-flecked beaches to six seaside towns, and its thriving culinary scene attracts high-profile celebrities and residents alike to stylish-yet-casual local restaurants.

To experience it for yourself, take one of of Tradewind’s regularly scheduled shuttles or charter flights and make a reservation at one of these must-try island eateries.

Larsen’s Fish Market

Larsen's Fish Market, Photo: Betsey Larsen

Larsen's Fish Market, Photo: Betsey Larsen

Just steps from the fishing docks in the little village of Menemsha, Larsen’s Fish Market exudes a modest but charming ambiance with its makeshift lobster trap tables and sweeping sea views. But on the menu, you won’t just find raw, fresh-off-the-boat cuts of fish. This market-meets-restaurant serves succulent lobster and stuffed scallops cooked to perfection, and you have to try the shellfish straight from the raw bar. Make sure to bring your own beverage.

Don’t Miss: Littleneck and cherrystone clams

Red Cat Kitchen

On your way through Oak Bluffs, look for the “Ken ‘n’ Beck” sign to find Red Cat Kitchen, an intimate, artistic restaurant with an ever-evolving menu. Chef-owner Ben Deforest’s soulful cuisine has recently included elegant presentations of Atlantic halibut with lobster-black-eyed-pea succotash, grilled barrel-cut grass-fed NY strip steak with Red Cat bordelaise, and a serious vegetarian showdown – all featuring ingredients sourced on the island.

Don’t Miss: Nightly offerings

Back Door Donuts

The secret is officially out on Back Door Donuts, the nighttime pop-up shop located at the actual back door of M.V. Gourmet Café & Bakery. From mid-April to mid-October, the Oak Bluffs bakery serves house-made pastries and coffee by day and hot, fresh donuts (along with a few other must-try sugary offerings) by night. Standing in line is always a social experience — it seems like the whole island comes out for bite — but once you receive your butternut crunch, coconut, or maple bacon donut, you won’t regret your late-night craving.

Don’t Miss: Apple fritters

Little House Café

Little House Café, Photo: Shannon Rynd-Ray

Little House Café, Photo: Shannon Rynd-Ray

The cozy little restaurant with the bold menu is Little House Café, located in Vineyard Haven. From a curried mango chicken salad sandwich to roasted butternut squash with red quinoa pilaf, the menu abounds with innovative dishes that are often vegetarian and gluten-free. On Thursday nights, head to Little House for their infamous tacos like the shrimp taco with mango salsa, beer battered avocado, and creamy cilantro lime sauce.

Don’t Miss: Fish tacos

The Newes From America Pub

At the base of The Kelly House in Edgartown, The Newes Pub harbors an abundance of colonial character in its authentic rough-hewn beams, ballast brick walls, and warm hearth. While the menu features classic American and British pub food, it all comes with some local flavor, so try their take on fish and chips, lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, and ribs with root beer barbecue sauce. (Speaking of, there is a micro-brewed root beer as well as a great selection of New England microbrews on tap.)

Don’t Miss: Fish and chips

Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company

Chowder may be a winter staple, but a visit to the island during any season just wouldn’t be complete without dinner at Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company. The cozy Oak Bluffs bar and restaurant serves delectable offerings such as grilled local swordfish, braised short rib ravioli, and blistered Padrón peppers. But the headliner has always been the award-winning chowder, which is made from scratch daily and absolutely packed with clams. (It’s also gluten free.)

Don’t Miss: Martha’s Vineyard Clam Chowder

Atria

Photo: Atria

Photo: Atria

Local ingredients and global inspiration define the savory cuisine at Atria, an elegant dining experience reopening for the season on May 7 in downtown Edgartown. Reflecting the seasonality of local New England ingredients, the menu changes nightly with offerings like crispy wok-fired lobster – and in the stylish basement Brick Cellar Bar, an array of gourmet burgers await. Make sure to order a bottle from the unique wine list, which Beverage Director Sam Decker says is inspired by his fascination with the stories behind each wine.

Don’t Miss: Pay Day burger

Scottish Bakehouse

Scottish Bakehouse, Photo: Jocelyn Filley

Scottish Bakehouse, Photo: Jocelyn Filley

You can still find Scottish shortbread on the menu, but the Scottish Bakehouse has come a long way since opening in 1961. Today, the focus is on health and local ingredients, many of which are grown onsite at the Bakehouse Farm. The West Tisbury bakery serves gluten-free breads along with quinoa burgers, coconut tofu, Cuban pork, and a famous breakfast sandwich that you can eat outside while taking in sweeping views of the farm.

Don’t Miss: Egg sandwich

The Right Fork Diner

Set in Edgartown alongside Katama Airfield, The Right Fork provides the perfect vantage point to watch classic biplanes take flight. Dine on the patio or step into the classic diner’s bright and airy dining room for traditional diner fare in Martha’s Vineyard style. The menu changes regularly, but you can always expect incredible breakfast dishes along with lobster rolls, grilled peach salad, and other creative entrées. The restaurant opens for the season on May 19.

Don’t Miss: The Aviator

 

*Featured Image: Atria

Stowe, Vermont and the Art of Fly Fishing

Stowe, Vermont and the Art of Fly Fishing

If traditional fishing blends seasoned discipline with a touch of luck, fly fishing contrasts with a unique element of its own: artistry. Unfurling like brush strokes on a canvas, a fly fishing line appears almost effortless in flight — assuming graceful curves that show the angler’s skill even before the lure finds its target and attracts a bite.

“It’s more of a rhythmic casting stroke as opposed to a power stroke,” says Bob Shannon, owner of The Fly Rod Shop in Stowe, Vermont. Unlike conventional fishing, “when you fly fish or fly cast, you are casting the weight of the fly line, not the weight of the fly.”

A timeless pastime for anglers, fly fishing utilizes a tapered rod and line along with a hand-tied fly, or lure, that is designed to resemble natural foods in the water.

The sport reaches its peak in Stowe during the spring and fall seasons when the climate is perfect for days spent wading in rivers and casting leisurely from drift boats. And with Tradewind’s direct shuttles or charters into Morrisville-Stowe State Airport, those river days are just a quick flight from home.

For adept fly fishermen and those new to the sport, the beauty of fly fishing in Stowe lies both in the tranquility of the outdoors, which Shannon attributes to the town’s low population, and in the actual number of rivers and lakes nearby. (There are seven rivers within 10 miles of Stowe, from small, upland brook trout streams to large drift boat rivers, and to the south, Waterbury Reservoir is known as one of the best bass fishing lakes in the state.)

“It’s a sanctuary,” says Shannon, while relaying fishing tales of Stowe. “It’s peace, it’s solitude.”

Shannon himself has been fly fishing for most of his life, having taken over The Fly Rod Shop 18 years ago. He originally began instructing to supplement his winter job on the ski patrol, and today the thriving 45-year-old business is the preferred vendor of Stowe Mountain Lodge and other top-tier hotels in the area.

Beginners can benefit from The Fly Rod Shop’s free casting clinics held each Wednesday afternoon and Saturday morning starting in May. The hour-and-a-half lesson covers all the basics of fly fishing and fly casting, from the anatomy of streams to the equipment to two types of casts. (According to Bob, the roll cast is the easiest to perfect, and the false cast requires more practice and timing.)

The casting clinic is recommended, but not required, for those who plan on taking a half- or full-day guided trip either on foot or by drift boat, because those that already know how to cast can head straight nearby rivers such as Lamoille, Winooski, Dog, and Little River. Says Shannon, “It’s a way to sweeten the deal as far as getting out on the water sooner.”

Throughout each trip, hand-tied flies are used, which you can purchase at any local fly shop or make yourself as you excel in the sport. There are no machine-tied flies in fly fishing. As Shannon will tell you, “The art of fly fishing is not only learning how to cast and how to outsmart the fish, but it’s also about how to make the flies that you use to catch the fish.”

Once you have reached your fishing destination, The Fly Rod Shop instructors can help you perfect your technique as you fish for rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout, and smallmouth bass. The choice of catch-and-release or take home to eat is yours (as long as the law allows for the type of fish you have caught).

In the Lamoille River – Shannon’s personal favorite located 10 miles north of Stowe – you can find all three species of trout. “It’s an awesome fish to eat,” says Shannon, “and The Fly Rod Shop guys are more than willing to share their secret trout recipes.”

The Fly Rod Shop fishing tours run from May 1 through October 31. Spring and fall trips take place during “banker hours,” while summer fishing trips take place at sunrise and sunset to take advantage of the cooler hours of the day.

“Spring and fall, with the cooler water temperatures, are typically the best, most productive time of the year,” says Shannon. “However, because Stowe is located at a higher elevation, the dog days of summer still allow for excellent brook trout fishing all season long.”

And if you are looking for even more of a challenge, ask the team at The Fly Rod Shop about fly fishing for the predatory pike.

 

*Featured Image: Heikki Immonen via Wikimedia Commons

Island Getaway Decision: Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard?

Island Getaway Decision: Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard?

In meteorology, the term “heat island” describes the way cities get hotter—and stay hotter—than the suburbs or countryside surrounding them. In New York, during the steamy days of summer, this explains why you need to turn your sights to other islands—Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard being prime examples.

From either Westchester County Airport or Teterboro Airport, Tradewind flights can transport you to either of those alluring destinations off Cape Cod in just about an hour—wheels up to wheels down. You’ll have no TSA lines to slog through and all traffic jams are conveniently located 30,000 feet below.

So, okay, you’re sold on the idea—that was easy. But it leaves you with the choice of which island to book your flight to—and it’s a stimulating debate. Nantucket and the Vineyard (locals seldom include “Martha’s” in their toponym) actually have a yin-yang duality that seems to divide summer fun-seekers into two camps.

Tradewind Aviation flies to Nantucket

For cultural variety and more of a summer-revel vibe you would give the nod to MV. Visible on clear days from the Cape Cod town of Falmouth, Martha’s Vineyard makes sense, so to speak, to longtime Cape-goers.

For serenity, seclusion, and some one-percenter chic, punch your ticket to Nantucket. Even the shape of Nantucket Island—resembling the nose of an airplane pointed southwest and away from the mainland—befits what people say about its singular and separate feeling.

Although Nantucket is slightly larger in square miles, and has the ultimate cobblestone-paved port village, it doesn’t differ much from end to end. The Vineyard has many more villages and localities for you to see on a long bike ride, including Edgartown with its whaling-captain manses and just-so yacht club, Vineyard Haven with its boutique shopping and ferry-landing buzz, tucked-away Chilmark with its humble billionaires, and of course the historic town of Oak Bluffs, where gingerbread-style homes are passed down through the family trees of affluent, influential African-Americans. On the roadways connecting these hamlets you’ll pass farms and grazing pastures that may conjure thoughts of western Ireland.

Photo: Quinn Dombrowski

Photo: Quinn Dombrowski

On a long bike ride down Nantucket roads, you’re more likely to experience a hypnotic descent into the simple beauty of pine trees, flower gardens, and narrow roads curving off into what must be idyllic properties. But keep riding out of town to the end of Polpis Road and prepare for panoramas of the bucolic Sankaty Head golf course and an inspiring lighthouse with a bold red stripe.

Year-round Vineyarders, like the online real estate entrepreneur David Lott, can sound dismissive when discussing Nantucket, due in good part to the “Beinecke factor.” That’s a reference to Walter Beinecke, a well-born New Yorker who almost single-handedly reinvented the island as an upscale haven for tourists and second-home owners in the mid-20th century. Beinecke spent childhood summers on Nantucket in the 1920s and ‘30s. It was then midway through a long, steady decline, never having replaced whaling as an economic base. The prim-and-pretty look that characterizes Nantucket today is based on building codes Beinecke pushed through, he being owner of most commercial properties and plenty of residences, too.

“There’s nothing wrong with weathered shingles, white trim, and picket fences covered in rambler roses,” comments Lott. “Martha’s Vineyard has those as well. But when it was done by fiat and it’s everywhere you look, well, it’s a little much.”

White Elephant

White Elephant

While the preservation process that unfolded on Nantucket may seem a bit firm-handed to a Vineyard devotee, to visitors it is delightfully welcome. Last summer was the first trip out there for Michael Corcoran, a New York publishing executive who reads a lot of history books and historical novels—including a recent run through whaling-industry chronicles.

“My wife and I thought about a trip to Martha’s Vineyard,” explains Corcoran, “but Nantucket always seemed that it was way out at sea, sort of unto itself.” The couple flew out to ACK—that’s not only the island airport’s abbreviation, but a code of sorts for Nantucket that shows up all over—and disappeared into luxury cottage accommodations at the famed White Elephant.

“It was 10 minutes by taxi from the airport to the start of our vacation, which turned out to be one of the most relaxing and fun trips I’ve ever been on,” he says. They rented a jeep, took boat trips, stared at seals basking en masse along the shore, and watched movies in the cottage at night. “You call the front desk and they deliver fresh popcorn while you’re watching your movie—that’s a nice touch,” recalls Corcoran.

Fly to Martha's Vineyard with Tradewind Aviation

The magic-carpet effect of a Tradewind flight from sultry New York to the fish shacks and fine restaurants of these two islands off Massachusetts is such that, once experienced, could well become a go-to for summer perfection.

Or, like many Tradewind flyers, at least take advantage of the offer twice—once for each island. That way you’ll never have to wonder if you made the right choice.

Behind the Scenes on Tradewind’s BOS-NY Shuttle

Behind the Scenes on Tradewind’s BOS-NY Shuttle

On Prescott Street along the northwest edge of Boston Logan International stands a smartly landscaped Modernist building clad in sleek gray steel and stained oak. Offering an artful contrast to the massive parking garage and Massport administration building across the way, this is the Signature Flight Support private terminal. It’s where Tradewind Aviation customers board their 50-minute flight down to the Westchester County airport in White Plains, 20 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. From there they take livery service or the Metro-North commuter train into the city.

Passengers arrive 15-30 minutes before departure from Logan and gather in a clubby lounge with leather seating, attractive lamplight, soothing acoustics, and a soaring glass wall that looks out to the airfield. On this mid-winter Wednesday evening, with a Nor’easter rumbling up the Seaboard, the Tradewind 5:25 departure shows a full manifest of eight passengers, each intent on making a pre-storm getaway.

Boarding Tradewind Aviation Pilatus PC12 Flight

Soon they’ll be aboard a Pilatus PC-12, climbing to 17,000 feet of altitude in a streamlined, Swiss-made turboprop that cruises at 300 miles per hour. Inside the PC-12 it’s cozy but truly comfortable, with pewter-grey leather upholstery on the seats, the walls, and even the headliner. Baggage gets stowed in an open-rear compartment and standard seating configuration is four rows of two seats flanking a center aisle. This aircraft is squeaky clean and still has that new-airplane smell.

Climate control is critical to making air travel work as it should, and this plane is best-in-class in that department—another reason for its popularity with corporations and private aviation companies. Small planes flying scheduled routes in this part of the world are known to buzz along in summertime with an open cockpit window to cool the pilot, even as passengers feel the heat. Not so with the PC-12, which is also notably low-decibel in its cabin, especially for a prop plane.

At the far corner of the lounge, outbound travelers from this and various other flights speak with Signature concierge staff about their needs and arrangements. The Tradewind pilot, Trevor, his co-pilot, Omar, and a ground representative, Craig, converse with the clientele, many of whom they know on a first-name basis. Clearly this is high-touch, white-glove customer service, but it never seems forced or scripted. Instead there’s an easy camaraderie flowing between crew and passengers.

Inside Tradewind Aviation Pilatus PC12 Flight

One flyer is running late, and indeed won’t arrive until 10 minutes before scheduled departure. None of the others bristle at the minor delay. “I think it’s a matter of them knowing that next time it could be them,” muses Craig, himself a trained pilot and flight instructor. “And with private aviation, altered departure times can work in the other direction. If everyone’s here and it’s 20 minutes before scheduled takeoff, we pack up and go.”

A luggage dolly is off to the side, gradually taking on the minimal baggage carried by these attorneys, consultants, investment bankers, venture capitalists, corporate finance officers, or the occasional university professor on a speaking engagement. Catering setup is part of the prep, although given how quick the trip is, in-flight food-and-beverage service is casual. “It’s maybe a two-beer flight,” estimates Trevor, who learned his trade as a bush pilot in Alaska. “Unless somebody’s had a particularly trying day, in which case there may be time for three.”

He has already completed his pre-flight inspection of the PC-12’s airframe, checked tire pressure, and examined his gauges for any possible irregularities—now he’s back to his customer-care detail. “We’re the ground crew, the ramp agents, the baggage handlers, and the flight attendants, along with our main job of piloting the aircraft,” explains Trevor. Tradewind policy is always to man the cockpit with two crew members—not a practice found everywhere in private aviation.

Departing Tradewind Aviation Pilatus PC12 Flight

You can book this Tradewind flight through a travel agent or directly with the company. The price is $395 each way, but as low as $295 if you’re a regular who purchases books of tickets at a time—and they’re transferable to clients and family members. “These are people whose time is worth $150 an hour or in many cases much more,” says Craig, “so if they get in one more meeting, skip the need for a hotel night, or get the workday accomplished but stay married because they’re home for dinner instead of not, that’s where the value is.”

As he finishes his thought, a regular on the route—a gentleman with salt-and-pepper hair and wire-rimmed glasses—walks over, shakes hands, and starts up a conversation. Very likely their chat could be about his son’s peewee hockey team—Craig knows the boy’s name, his position, and all about that shorthanded goal he scored in last week’s game. It’s a game, incidentally, that the dad returned home in time to see, after a day spent doing business in New York. So, yes, there’s work, there’s life, and there’s traveling strategically to try and keep the two in balance.