Three Caribbean Islands for a Yoga Getaway

Three Caribbean Islands for a Yoga Getaway

The serene white beaches and lush landscapes of the Caribbean are restorative in nature, making them the ideal destination for deepening your yoga practice under the guidance of world-class instructors while seeking harmony in mind, body, and spirit.

From barefoot yoga on the beach to creative variations like paddleboard yoga, here are some of our favorite places in the Caribbean for an inspired yoga retreat – all easily accessible with Tradewind Aviation’s regularly scheduled shuttle flights.

St. Barth

On the stylish island of St. Barth, wellness goes hand in hand with your stay. Many of the leading resorts like Le Guanahani, Cheval Blanc, and Hotel Christopher offer transformative spa experiences and healthy cuisine, and when you request one of the local yoga instructors, they will come right to your hotel, villa, or yacht for private classes – and even customized private retreats.

Nanda Mortier, a native of the island, teaches her Vinyasa flow yoga using controlled breathing to move fluidly from one pose to the next (often right on the sun-kissed beaches). She is certified in Thai massage and Reiki (a Japanese technique for reducing stress and promoting healing) and can customize yoga classes for alignment, restoration, and prenatal requests.

Her collaboration with Elisa White, BODY+SOUL St Barth, is a wonderful option for a wellness retreat that incorporates yoga, conscious hikes, meditation, Janzu (water therapy), Reiki, and other healthful, healing experiences.

Another favorite on St. Barth is Yoga Vidya, a studio that highlights Iyengar yoga, which emphasizes correct alignment within each precise pose to build strength, stamina, balance, and flexibility. Rather than finding your own way in your practice, a highly trained Iyengar instructor actively corrects misalignments. And for an enhanced experience, you can set up a Yoga Intensive retreat that is personalized to your needs, in which you will stay in the instructor’s home or meet with her daily in your accommodation.

St. Thomas

Photo: Bev Goodwine

Photo: Bev Goodwine

Charming, colonial style and stunning stretches of beach await in St. Thomas, a destination for yogis in search of a creative island practice. Perhaps the most well-known variation on the island is stand up paddleboard yoga, which tones core muscles as you try to maintain your balance on the water.

Marriott Frenchman’s Cove, just across from the luxury Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Hotel, is home to SUP Yoga VI, where yoga enthusiasts can take scheduled paddleboard yoga classes or arrange for private classes on the beach of their choice. (Couples: try the partner paddleboard yoga.)

The modified Vinyasa flow style encourages a relationship with nature, because without the studio walls and a stable floor, you are completely immersed in the environment – an environment often brimming with sea life like the bay’s resident sea turtle.

Just up the coast, a completely different style of practice, and one that is unique in the Eastern Caribbean, can be found on the terrace of the historic 1500s villa Casa De Atelier and in other mobile locations throughout the island.

Designed by the creator of the aerial yoga fitness genre, Christopher Harrison, Point Wellness AntiGravity Aerial Yoga allows participants to stretch both the mind and body in stunning coastal settings. The location of Casa De Atelier contributes to its romantic, secluded ambiance, and guests staying in other villas have the ability to host the class if the structure allows for it. (Additionally, the studio holds classes at Gifft Hill School on the neighboring island of St. John after recently moving from the original Point Pleasant Resort location on St. Thomas.)

Puerto Rico

Photo: Jorge Colon

Photo: Jorge Colon

Amidst the spectacular cuisine and colorful culture of San Juan, there is an enclave of yoga experiences to be found. Stay in an oceanfront resort like Condado Vanderbilt Hotel or La Concha and you won’t be far from the city’s best yoga studios (or a fresh coconut to follow your practice).

In Ocean Park, Ashtanga Yoga has been offering classes in the Progressive Ashtanga Vinyasa style with the goal of becoming more centered since the style’s founding 10 years ago. English and Spanish speakers will find a practice they enjoy with up to six classes some days, including beginner yoga, traditional Vinyasa yoga, nontraditional Rocket yoga, and open practice.

The owners will encourage you to stay for a week (or for a month), and if you take them up on it, you may want to look into their teacher training courses to further your yoga practice.

 

*Featured image: SUP Yoga VI

Skiing Stowe Like a Local

Skiing Stowe Like a Local

It’s peak season on Mt. Mansfield and Stowe Mountain Resort is brimming with winter sports enthusiasts enjoying yet another bluebird day in alpine Vermont.

Among them is Director of Mountain Recreation, Dave Merriam, who is innately familiar with the resort’s 40 miles of ski trails and 12 high-speed lifts (more mile-long lifts than anywhere else in the East).

Along with the breathtaking scenery, Merriam says, “I love Stowe because of its sustained vertical. At a lot of Eastern resorts, your way down is quite stepped, meaning it’s steep and then flat for a while and then steep and then flat. [Here] you really feel gravity.”

Merriam enjoys the mountain all season long – from a week or two before Thanksgiving to late April – but notes that late January and February may be considered the most ideal for ski conditions and that many visitors enjoy the lengthening days of March.

Skiiers-at-Stowe-Mountain-Resort-in-Vermont

When it comes time to plan your route on the trails at Stowe Mountain Resort, Merriam has a recommendation that many Stowe regulars would agree with: “Follow the sun.”

The resort is split across Route 108, with the Over Easy Gondola connecting the two sides. Experienced skiers and snowboarders should start on the Mansfield side of the resort, which includes the infamous front four. “National, Liftline, Starr, and Goat are part of this wonderful front four experience,” says Merriam, “which is double-black diamonds [with] speed, a very sustained fall line, and vertical.”

“And on the shoulder of Mansfield, there is some wonderful cruising terrain – just great cruisers that dip and turn and roll with the terrain. They’re very classic Eastern skiing slopes. They are more intimate with the trees and so forth.”

The front four are serviced by the Fourrunner Quad, which has a 2,000-foot elevation change from base to top, and with very little sideways traffic, the runs flow smoothly all the way down.

In the late afternoon, when the front four begin to darken, head to the neighboring Gondola space on the other side of the river basin, where you will find the sun and the majority of the resort’s blue runs. (“The Gondolier and Perry Merrill are wonderful groomers – great cruising.”)

Skiing-at-Stowe-Mountain-Resort-in-Vermont

And to finish the afternoon, take the Over Easy Gondola to the Sunny Spruce side of the mountain in the southwest. The area is home to most of the resort’s green runs and features the ski and ride school, children’s center, brand new adventure center, skating rink, ski racing programs, and Stowe Mountain Lodge – the only ski-in, ski-out resort in Stowe. (The lodge has great packages like the Snow Day offer for discounted lift tickets and lodging.)

“One thing I love about the mountains in the East is they are quite intimate,” Merriam says. “When you’re in the Rockies, it’s big. In Stowe, you’re very close to everything.”

You can also stipple your day with runs through the resort’s freestyle terrain parks on the Mansfield side. The Mountain Triple lift will get you to the large terrain park with jumps and rails for experienced skiers and riders, the medium park, small park, and natural terrain park that is popular among families.

And experienced riders will want to try out Merriam’s personal favorite run, Hayride — accessible by the Fourrunner Quad. (“It’s a very steep, groomed run. It’s just wonderful.”)

Slopes-at-Stowe-Mountain-Resort-in-Vermont

Merriam also recommends arranging a lesson – which you can do at the ski school or through the concierge at Stowe Mountain Lodge for any skill level – and trying out equipment through the resort’s demo program, to find the best fit for your style both on the slopes and in the terrain parks. “There’s such amazing gear that makes powder skiing more enjoyable, really hard snow more enjoyable,” he says. “And trying out different gear is really fun in finding the right gear for the right conditions.”

When your day comes to a close, there is a host of wonderful après ski destinations nearby, including The Den, Spruce Camp Bar & Grill, and Skinny Pancake at Stowe Mountain Resort, and, on your way back to Stowe, the classic Matterhorn at the base of the mountain.

Best of all, with Tradewind’s regularly scheduled shuttle flights from New York and private charters from throughout the Northeast, it’s all just a short flight from home.

 

*All images courtesy of Stowe Mountain Resort

Tradewind Through the Eyes of a Four-Year-Old

Tradewind Through the Eyes of a Four-Year-Old

This is the story of a little girl who went on a big plane. Well, actually a little plane—a sleek gray Pilatus PC-12 from Tradewind Aviation, to be exact.

We followed along for the ride to see what it’s like to fly to St. Barth as a four-year-old. Sure, it’s great flying private when you’re a grown up, but it’s even better when you’re a toddler. Forget standing in line; here you are ushered to a private lounge at the San Juan airport, where there are lots of snacks and magazines.

And we all know what a pain it is to go through security and take your shoes off. Not here—the pilots give everyone on the flight extra-special attention. And when you’re 4, they’ll even let you sit in the front row, so that you can get the best inflight entertainment ever: a view of the pilots flying the jet.  

Join us as we follow along with this little girl on her very exciting journey.

In Search of New England’s Best Clam Chowder

In Search of New England’s Best Clam Chowder

A rich, creamy bowl of New England clam chowder is essential to winter in the Northeast. So with the season upon us, we set out in search of the region’s best, from light broths filled with briny flavor to thick, velvety chowders perfect for warming up in the New England cold.

Here are the winners, all easily accessible when traveling with Tradewind’s regularly scheduled shuttle flights to destinations in the Northeast, as well as private charters.

Neptune Oyster

63 Salem Street, Boston

On the edge of Boston’s North End, the intimate dining room at Neptune Oyster is the perfect hideaway from the cold weather. Although the elegant seafood restaurant is best known for its oysters, which we highly recommend, it is the light and creamy Wellfleet Clam Chowder that attracts the winter diner. Made-to-order with pink cherrystone clams, salt pork, and heaps of potatoes, the fresh, flavorful chowder is filling enough on its own – but not so heavy that you can’t enjoy an oyster or two on the side.

Because Neptune is always packed, you will want to call ahead for both lunch and dinner then take a stroll around the North End until your space is ready. Try to sit at the wraparound marble bar if possible as it overlooks the oyster shucking.

Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company

9 Oak Bluffs Avenue, Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard

Not only does Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company have some of the best clam chowder around, it is also regularly named the number one restaurant on the island. The award-winning Martha’s Vineyard Clam Chowder – rated Best Chowder for five years running by both Cape Cod Life magazine and Martha’s Vineyard Magazine – headlines an incredible selection of fresh, local seafood.

The savory dish is thinner than your typical New England clam chowder but absolutely filled with flavor. Made from scratch daily and gluten free, it contains hearty chunks of clams and potatoes, just the right seasoning, and a topping of classic oyster crackers. You can get yours in a cup or bowl to enjoy with a regional craft beer from one of 15 taps. The restaurant is also open year-round – a rarity on the island.

Legal Sea Foods

Photo: Legal Sea Foods

Photo: Legal Sea Foods

255 State Street, Boston and locations along the Eastern Seaboard

It doesn’t get more classic than a cup of Legal Sea Foods clam chowder. The traditional recipe filled with tender Cape Cod clams, salt pork, and potatoes has been served at every presidential inauguration since Reagan and is also the clam chowder served at Fenway Park. In the Legal Sea Foods restaurants, it has been on the menu for more than 50 years.

Like the chowder, the family-owned establishment has history, having first opened in 1950 as a fish market in Cambridge. (You can actually check out the Legal Sea Foods history on your placemat if you choose to dine in.) Along with restaurants up and down the East Coast, there are 11 restaurants in Boston alone. We like the Long Wharf location near the aquarium for its modern exhibition-style kitchen, patio, and consistently delicious clam chowder.

Island Creek Oyster Bar

500 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston

When in the mood for a fresh take on New England clam chowder, head to Island Creek Oyster Bar, located just between Fenway Park and Charles River. Blending the fisherman’s lifestyle with casual elegance, the space is a work of art with thousands of oyster shells filling gabion cages along one wall, high ceilings, and stunning statement artwork.

On the seafood-heavy menu, diners will find incredible lobster rolls, an ever-changing raw bar selection, and various fish from grilled Maine salmon to Cape Cod monkfish. But the chowder takes center stage with a unique recipe that features hand-dug clams, house-cured bacon, and actual biscuits on the side. A complex flavor profile favors the heavy, smoky bacon, so purists may want to look elsewhere, but those searching for a one-of-a-kind clam chowder will find what they are looking for at Island Creek.

SeaGrille

45 Sparks Avenue, Nantucket

For the best quahog clam chowder on Nantucket, head just outside of town to SeaGrille, a family-friendly restaurant with a lot of local appeal. Founded in 1991, the cozy eatery has always been known for fresh local and regional seafood like their seafood-packed bouillabaisse as well as an incredible selection of daily homemade pastas and breads.

Chef de Cuisine Tucker Harvey makes the Island Quahog Chowder, a deliciously creamy dish with large chunks of quahog clams and bacon rather than salt pork. The widely recognized chowder owes its flavor to a few key ingredients (Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, so we hear).

 

*Featured image: Flickr

The Story Behind New England’s Largest Wine Festival

The Story Behind New England’s Largest Wine Festival

There is a lot to like about James Carmody, the bluff Irish general manager of the Seaport Hotel in Boston, even over the phone. Here he is, one of the founders of the Boston Wine Expo—the largest and longest running wine festival in New England (always held over Presidents’ Day Weekend)—an unabashed guy from Dorchester ("You can hear it in my accent") whose mother discouraged alcohol, but who is now a wine lover, and he's laughing at the improbable success of the event.

He was among a small group, most of them from the Boston Oenophiles Guild, who started the event in 1991 as a Hail Mary. The Guild members were interested in putting Boston on the wine map and Carmody was, too—he came up through the food and beverage side of the hotel business—but he also had a slightly more urgent agenda: to create hotel traffic at a dead time of year. Who goes to Boston in February for fun? After all, Carmody was working at the Boston Harbor Hotel at the time (in the late 80s), and the hotel would actually have to lay off banquet staff and "hope they'd come back in the spring," he says. 

"Still, the vision was always to make The Expo, which takes place just down the street in the World Trade Center, into a championship game," he says. (The proof? People turn out even when the Patriots are in the championship—"Okay, they leave at four," says Carmody. "Why not?"). "But really only two or three of us believed we could make this happen when we started," he admits.

The other heart-warming aspect of The Boston Wine Expo is that it was all done on relationships—"a snowball rolling downhill," Carmody says. Guild members were enthusiasts and wine professionals, and they used their knowledge and relationships to bring winemakers to Boston in the dead of winter. Which is probably why the Expo, for all of the 200 vineyards and 1,800 wines that will show up and be poured next month, has, as its defining trait, a pleasing quirkiness.

The Wine Spectator New York Wine Experience is far grander and much bigger—an Inaugural Parade as opposed to the Expo's Memorial Day one. Carmody admits it, but even Thomas Mathews, Executive Editor of Wine Spectator, gives the Expo credit: "It began as a something of a drinkfest, but has evolved for the better. The quality of the exhibitors has significantly increased and the seminars are serious educational offerings showcasing top regions and wineries. The attendees are a broad cross-section, including consumers just beginning to learn about wine, seasoned collectors, and veterans of the trade."

The Boston Wine Expo is reasonably priced, as the goal has always been to "keep it accessible." Therefore the entry fee is just above happy-hour prices in Boston (this was a legal requirement, as well). But, of course, there are events (last year, a Pappy van Winkle bourbon tasting), seminars, and a private lounge, all of which cost more but are still not in the 1%-er category. The overriding spirit remains "to develop the next generation of wine drinkers as part of a healthy lifestyle," Carmody says, which was part of the founding vision. The other key phrase: "Offer a spirit of discovery."

So if you fly into Boston on Tradewind’s scheduled private shuttle over Presidents’ Day weekend, you get to sample some brilliant—and hard-to-find—wines at a sizable discount.

There's Château Picque Caillou, a stone's throw from Pape Clément and Haut-Brion, a wine that I bought when I was earning next-to-nothing as a magazine editor and that turned out to age brilliantly. André Shearer, head of Cape Classics, a pioneer importer of South African wines (and former fashion model), will be there. As will Bertani, a great Amarone house—"They just won't compromise," says Carmody—and Domaine des Baumard from the Loire Valley, whose Clos du Papillon is a fetish wine. "I saw an older bottle at a retail shop and bought it knowing nothing," says Carmody. "Then I called the distributor and bought the rest." (You gotta love this, right?)

Among the highlights of this year's Expo will be “The World of Sicilian Wine” seminar—taught by Master of Wine Bill Nesto—a vertical of Chateau d'Ampuis led by Fred Ek—distributor of hall-of-fame European winemakers (Guigal and Remoissenet, among them)—and a Riesling seminar.

Regarding the latter, Carmody is 110% himself in admitting "We all grew up on Blue Nun as the transition from pop [soda] to wine."

But he's grown up—matured, one might say—just like the Expo: "Riesling is probably the greatest food wine there is.”

…………..

Fly into Boston with Tradewind Aviation, offering scheduled shuttles and private charters from across the Northeast, including New York.

*All images courtesy of the Boston Wine Expo

5 Things to Try in Stowe this Winter

5 Things to Try in Stowe this Winter

While most visitors are familiar with Stowe for its world-class ski slopes and stunning mountain vistas, there are a number of lesser-known ways to experience the picturesque Vermont town when you fly with Tradewind Aviation from hubs in the Northeast.

Whether you prefer a long-standing, traditional festival or innovative new culinary establishments, plan to enjoy some of our favorite events and pursuits this winter—in between powdery ski runs, of course.

The Stowe Derby

Stowe Derby; Photo: Mike Hitelman

Stowe Derby; Photo: Mike Hitelman

In 1945, two expert skiers raced down Mt. Mansfield and into the village of Stowe in a personal competition. Today, the Stowe Derby is the oldest downhill and cross country ski race in North America, attracting hundreds of enthusiastic competitors to Vermont each winter. This season’s race, set for February 26, begins with 14 kilometers of downhill skiing followed by 6 kilometers on the flat Stowe Recreation Path and in the village. The total drop is 2,600 feet.

Competitors also have the option to undertake the 14-kilometer Fat Bike race or the Fat Meister, which combines the ski derby and the Fat Bike race and is only recommended for serious outdoorsmen. In any case, both competitors and viewers can enjoy a spectacular Stowe tradition.

Vermont Craft Beer

Idletyme Brewing Company; Photo: Oliver Parini

Idletyme Brewing Company; Photo: Oliver Parini

History meets present day at Idletyme Brewing Company, a European-inspired brewery housed in an 1830s building that has previously been home to a cider mill, a camp run by a local legend, and a classic Stowe restaurant. Today, Brewmaster Will Gilson crafts creative flavor profiles that are a combination of classic European brewing and Vermont hop culture. The result: renowned brews like the Idletyme Double IPA.

Along with an incredible selection of ales and lagers (try the English Brown Ale, Danube Blueberry Hefeweizen, and Munich-style Helles Brook Lager), Idletyme also serves some of the best comfort food in Stowe from the casual Pub Burger to Truffle Mac-N-Cheese and Maine Crab Cakes.

A Fresh Take on New England Cuisine

Plate

Plate

In the realm of acclaimed restaurants, Plate stands out in both incredible cuisine and architectural design. The Main Street eatery was featured in Spain’s Voyeur Design magazine and the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards for its contemporary take on a rustic space – the work of designer and interior architect Tania Kratt.

On the menu, guests will find a combination of local flavors and healthy California style in dishes like the Beef Tenderloin with apple bacon maple bourbon chutney and the Roasted Southwestern Cauliflower with jalapeno lime quinoa and roasted red pepper coulis. There are plenty of vegan and gluten-free options, and you can even reserve the Chef’s Counter for up to four people for an up-close-and-personal view of the kitchen during your dining experience.

The Stowe Winter Carnival

For more than 40 years, the Stowe Winter Carnival has highlighted reasons why locals and visitors alike love Stowe. With 20 plus activities and events, the annual, two-week gathering brings the community together for winter sports, ice carving competitions, a children’s carnival, music, the infamous Snowgolf and Snowvolleyball tournaments, rail jams, and more.

During this year’s festival, held January 14 – 28, the theme will be “StowOasis.” The impressive NICA sanctioned Ice Carving Competition will take place on January 21, and for the second year, the Broomball Tournament and Beer Garden will be returning on January 27.

Snowshoeing Stowe Pinnacle

Much of the region’s beauty is visible from the ski slopes, but there are some views that require snowshoes and a short trek. At 2,651 feet, the summit of Stowe Pinnacle affords sweeping panoramas of the country to the west and the surrounding snow-covered forest.

Pack some French onion soup from the village or a mug of hot cider and begin your journey at the Upper Hollow Road parking area. The moderate trail winds through an open meadow and the forest, climbing 1,520 feet to a rocky overlook. Along the way, you may see animal tracks in the snow, perhaps even a wild turkey, and at the peak, unforgettable views over the Stowe countryside.

30 Years of Homegrown Hospitality on St. Barth

30 Years of Homegrown Hospitality on St. Barth

"I remember all of this," says Catherine Charneau, owner of the Le Village Hotel on St. Barth, sweeping her hand across the mountainside above the hotel, now speckled with luxury villas, "when there wasn't anything up there."

On an island that always seems to be about the new and the nouveau, Charneau is history speaking, the island's institutional memory: She remembers learning to drive a Mini Moke on the airport runway and the Eden Rock when it was a simple guesthouse.

"Can we find a more youthful word than 'doyenne?'" she retorts when I ask her if she holds that position among St. Barth hoteliers.

Charneau grew up on a plantation in Guadeloupe—"It was quite idyllic; we grew everything we needed on the plantation"—went to Munich at 17 to study art history "because I was very curious to discover the world," worked as a tour guide in Paris, married a German military officer, and came back to St. Barth with him in 1987 to help out at Le Village, after her father had a stroke. (Her family started the hotel at the end of the '60s.) Her husband thought St. Barth was a great posting; she thought his alternative, Taiwan, was better.

So Charneau is the reluctant hotelier: "I learned by doing and at tradeshows from fellow hoteliers who taught me the basic rules," she says. Which may be why she has made Le Village into something unique on St. Barth: homegrown as opposed to international. (For the record, her favorite hotel brand is Aman.)

Le Village is tucked into 10 acres of lush vegetation in a slightly willy-nilly fashion, á la French hill towns. It is only a 10-minute walk downhill to St. Jean, but sufficiently high up so that many rooms and the pool have terrific ocean views. As such, Le Village is a four-star hotel with three-star rates on a five-star island. In high season, the most expensive room for two—a Superior Junior Suite—costs 710 Euros.

I particularly liked the Junior Terrace Suites (rooms 5, 6, and 9). Room 9 is the newest one. It has a separate living room with a pullout couch, a large deck with views over St. Jean Bay, and two bathrooms—one with a walk-in shower that has a wall partially made of a rock that was just too stubborn to dislodge. Overall it has the feel of a beachy penthouse.

I also liked Superior Suite 8, up a steep flight of stairs from the pool, but a nice perch; number 15, a Tradition Cottage that has more outdoor space (300 sq. ft.) than indoor (237 sq. ft.); and Superior Terrace Suites 10, 12, and 14, all of which are buried in the foliage near reception but have great ocean views, as the hill drops off sharply in front of them.

Room 10 was the favorite of then New York Times food critic Craig Claiborne, who came to the hotel every winter for years. He left his pots and pans with Charneau, and he left a record of the Christmas Day meal he cooked in 1977 on pages 198-203 of the New York Times International Cookbook. The menu Claiborne printed up for his guests is still in the room.

Le Village offers two things that luxury travelers today, according to almost every survey, say they crave: simplicity and authenticity. The hotel is at once a step back in time as well as up-to-date. Charneau has pulled off quite a feat: keeping the luxuries simple (while every hotelier around you is upping the ante) and making the simple luxurious. Le Village is about the being here: In the morning, you walk down to St. Jean (10 minutes), have coffee and a croissant, window-shop for bikinis, and go for a swim in Baie St. Jean. Just as you might have done on the French Riviera 40 years ago.

The rest of the day is just across the doorstep.

…..

Fly to St. Barth with Tradewind Aviation, offering daily scheduled shuttles connecting through San Juan, Puerto Rico, Antigua, and the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Thomas.

 

A Jetsetter’s Holiday Gift Guide

A Jetsetter’s Holiday Gift Guide

In-flight comfort goes far beyond the perfect travel pillow. And since accessories are now slimmer, lighter, and more powerful than ever, there’s simply no reason to sacrifice convenience just because you’re away from home.  

So whether you’re searching for gifts for fellow travelers or making your own holiday wishlist, we have a few recommendations that are sure to enhance both the journey and the destination. From cutting-edge technology to actual flights, here are our top gifts of the season:

A 360-Degree Photo Experience

Photo credit: 360fly

Photo credit: 360fly

A 16-megapixel image sensor and a host of innovative action features make the 360fly 4K one of our favorite gifts for travelers. Unlike other smart cameras, the 360fly uses one lens to capture seamless, 360-degree photos without stitching. The 4K output adds over 6 million pixels, resulting in incredible, vibrant detail, and the camera is shockproof and water resistant up to one meter for even the most adventurous trips.

$500

Smart Luggage

Photo credit: Bluesmart

Photo credit: Bluesmart

Owning a durable carry-on is just the beginning of luxury travel. Today’s jetsetters are looking for luggage with USB charging outlets, digital locks that you can operate with a cell phone, and GPS tracking to locate your bag anywhere in the world. The Bluesmart Black Edition has all of the above, plus a weather-resistant laptop compartment and a sleek, smart style that will look great in any destination.

$599

Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Photo credit: Sony

Photo credit: Sony

Unwinding on airplanes is easy with the right pair of noise-cancelling headphones, and these Sony MDR1000X Headphones are at the height of audio innovation. They have Bluetooth connectivity and up to 20 hours of battery life for long-haul flights, as well as touch-control and a quick attention feature to listen to ambient sounds instantaneously.

$400

The Ultimate Travel Videos

Photo credit: Matt Georges for Squadrone System Hexo+

Photo credit: Matt Georges for Squadrone System Hexo+

Over the last few years, drones have changed the way we capture our experiences, making incredible aerial footage available to anyone who can use a smartphone. The GoPro-compatible Hexo+ is at the forefront of traveler-friendly drones with removable props, feet, and gimbal that allow the entire console to fit into a backpack. In flight, it will follow you at speeds up to 45 miles per hour while maintaining perfect stability and delivering amazing footage.

$999

The World’s Thinnest Portable Drive

Photo credit: Seagate

Photo credit: Seagate

Given those incredible travel photos and videos, it’s only right you should have a cutting-edge portable hard drive on your holiday gift list. The Seagate Seven Portable Drive is actually the thinnest available at 7 millimeters, and its stainless-steel enclosure can hold its own in any locale. Best of all, it frees up your other devices with a generous 500GB of storage – that’s approximately 50 hours of HD video.

$100

A Destination Trip with Tradewind

Fly-Tradewind-Aviation-to-St-Barth-for-the-holidays

The gift of travel itself is on every jetsetter’s wishlist, and at Tradewind, it’s simple to book a single seat aboard one of our regularly scheduled flights or reserve a private charter. We fly to the Caribbean and throughout the Northeast United States, with destinations ranging from the mountains of Stowe, Vermont to the beaches of St. Barth. And when booking a private charter, the destination is up to you.

Prices vary

Hyperlocal is the New Local

Hyperlocal is the New Local

A few years back, Guy Michlin was traveling through Greece when a chance meeting with a local family snagged him an invitation to share a meal in their home. Eating authentic Greek food and getting an up-close look into the culture was an unforgettable experience, the highlight of Michlin’s trip.

A light bulb went off. Why not create a brand-new opportunity for travelers—to eat in people’s homes around the world—thought Michlin. He paired up with his friend Shemer Schwarz, and the duo founded EatWith. Suddenly, culinary entrepreneurs—from home cooks to professional chefs—had a platform to share their passion and monetize their craft. And travelers had a chance to experience how people really live and eat, something you don’t usually get while dining in a restaurant. “Food brings people together,” says Michlin.

EatWith is just one example of hyperlocal travel, a new sector of the vacation industry that is transforming the way people see the world. When flying to the Caribbean, for example, Tradewind travelers can use it to get in touch with locals and experience another culture in a truly profound way.

Photo credit: EatWith

Photo credit: EatWith

This fast-growing category of peer-to-peer travel is taking the sharing economy made famous by brands like Airbnb and Uber to a whole new level. It’s also being fueled by the digital revolution, which has created easy tools to connect people across the globe in ways that were unheard of in the pre-Facebook era.

Vayable is another hyperlocal company that has created a marketplace for all kinds of unique experiences worldwide. Want to see street art and eat well in Los Angeles? Melanie P., a plugged-in local, will guide you around Venice, one of the city’s coolest neighborhoods. Heading to Chicago and interested in the nightlife there? You can hook up with Philip H., a special event producer, and check out the hottest clubs and lounges in the city.

The trailblazing Vayable was founded in 2011 by Jamie Wong, who saw a huge gap in the travel market around easy-to-find and easily bookable experiences. It has grown to include more than 13,000 offerings in 1,000 cities. “Travelers have discovered that the more personal, customized, and connected their travel is, the more meaningful it becomes, and therefore more valuable it becomes,” says Wong.

Ferran Adrià is one of the most innovative chefs on the planet—the man who created Spain’s legendary restaurant-turned-food foundation El Bulli and developed a radical new style of molecular gastronomy. So it says a lot that he is one of the investors behind a Barcelona-based startup called Trip4real, which is focused on European locations but expanding globally. Like Vayable, Trip4real allows locals to become micro-entrepreneurs, sharing their passions, interests, and hobbies with travelers.

Photo credit: EatWith

Photo credit: EatWith

For instance, instead of waiting in line for the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and seeing what everyone else sees, Trip4real will connect you with a local family that actually lives in a Modernist house nearby. “I believe you only truly know a place when you connect with someone local and that traveling is about people, not just places,” says founder Gloria Molins.

Another contender in the hyperlocal space is the just-launched Gibby Road, which caters to travelers in Los Angeles, New York City, Las Vegas, Detroit, the Hamptons, and select international cities. The owners came up with the idea at Surf Lodge, a popular nightclub-slash-restaurant-slash-hotel on Gibson Street in Montauk. Because one of their friends worked at Surf Lodge, they were able to walk right in, skipping the line of 40 to 50 people waiting for entry. They realized that by knowing the right people, travelers could go to the best events, get into the bars with the most challenging door policies, and enjoy the most local experiences possible.

"The next generation of travel is about experiences,” says cofounder Rachel Harrison. “Instead of bragging about what five-star hotel you stayed at, people are now talking about the unique experiences and the stories of their trips."

The hyperlocal industry is exploding and the possibilities are endless. Want to hang out with chefs? BookaLokal is the source. In Europe, Mexico, or Brazil and need a free ride somewhere? BlaBlaCar will hook you up with a local (it’s a safer version of hitchhiking). Want to make sure the photographs from your vacation are amazing? Hire a company like Flytographer or Localgrapher to send a local photographer to document your trip. “I think that it´s absolutely amazing when you can combine getting to know someone local together with some useful service that is provided to you by the same person,” says Localgrapher founder Matej Slezak.

Photo credit: Vayable

Photo credit: Vayable

There are even hyperlocal apps that will do the connecting for you, like UrbanBuddy or Spotted Places, a startup that is in beta mode in Seattle. “Spotted Places allows users to follow their friends, family, or other individuals they find interesting such as influencers and celebrities. By seeing the spots these individuals recommend on a map, users can always know the top recommendations near them,” says Bryant Hawthorne, founder of Spotted Places. “Think of it as Pokémon GO for experiences.”

And the company ViaHero takes the whole idea of hyperlocal travel one step beyond: It is a platform where you can find a local who will act like a travel agent and actually plan your entire trip. ViaHero launched in Cuba—a destination where the main draw is the vibrant local culture—and is currently expanding into Iceland. On the horizon: Croatia, Japan, and New Zealand.

“Peer-to-peer platforms are often cheaper, you deal with real people instead of corporations, and you can use the opinion of the crowds to determine the quality of what you're getting,” says ViaHero founder Greg Buzulencia. “Five years ago peer-to-peer platforms seemed riskier, but today they are the standard for trustworthiness.”

 

Featured image courtesy of EatWith

Pick Your Island: Watersports in the Caribbean

Pick Your Island: Watersports in the Caribbean

White sands and glistening seas characterize each of the idyllic islands of the Caribbean. But as frequent travelers know, the similarities between the islands essentially stop there. Every destination harbors a unique culture and appeal that you won’t find on a neighboring shore, and some waters are more suited for watersports than others.

From surfing in San Juan to deep-sea fishing in Nevis, here are our favorite destinations for chasing passions on the water. Tradewind can get you there with hubs in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Antigua, and St. Thomas.

Surfing | Puerto Rico

Photo credit: WOW Surfing School

Photo credit: WOW Surfing School

There’s a reason Puerto Rico is so often listed as a top Caribbean surf destination, and it has everything to do with the consistent, year-round waves. Fall and winter may be the best times to visit the island for swell, but surfers will find quality waves during all seasons, even summer, with the best places to paddle out being the north and northwest coasts. If you prefer to stay close to San Juan, head to Playa Aviones—a crowded but reliable surf spot revered by locals and visitors alike. Or for a more far-flung adventure, cruise along the coast to Rincon or Aguadilla to find some of the island’s best breaks.

Our Recommendation: Rent a board at WOW Surfing School in San Juan on your way the beach, or stay for a lesson for beginner and intermediate surfers.

Sailing | Antigua

Photo credit: Horizon Yacht Charters

Boating has always been at the heart of Antigua’s culture, from weekly races on the water to annual regattas that draw seafarers from all over the world. (Devoted sailors should plan to attend Sailing Week in the spring.) And with an estimated 365 beaches and countless places to drop anchor, it’s easy to see why. You could spend an entire year circling the little island and wake up to a different stretch of shoreline each day. Antigua is also known as one of the top sunset spots in the Caribbean, making it a beautiful place for experienced boaters and those simply wishing for an evening sail on the Caribbean.

Our Recommendation: Horizon Yacht Charters in Jolly Harbour Marina offers sailing charters and week-long classes designed to give you the skills needed to handle a 33 to 40-foot watercraft.

Kitesurfing | St. Barth

Kitesurfing-in-St-Barth-Caribbean

When it comes to kitesurfing in the Caribbean, you’d be hard pressed to find a more beautiful spot than the serene waters of St. Barth. Consistent winds and glassy seas have made it a preferred destination for professional kitesurfers and windsurfers alike, with Grand Cul de Sac considered to be the best location on the island. The tradewinds blowing in from the Atlantic mean the shallow bay is often experiencing 15-20 mile-per-hour conditions—perfect for kitesurfing—while a protective coral reef keeps the waters calm for beginning and experienced athletes to enjoy.

Our Recommendation: Reach new heights with a kitesurfing lesson from Saint Barth Kite. Most sessions take place in Grand Cul de Sac, but experienced kitesurfers can head into the deeper seas of Saline with a southeastern wind.

Diving | Anguilla

Photo credit: Shoal Bay Scuba Shack

Photo credit: Shoal Bay Scuba Shack

The tranquil seas around Anguilla are a snorkeler’s paradise, teeming with vibrant schools of fish and magnificent sea turtles, but some of the most spectacular sights and experiences are found at greater depths accessible only to scuba divers. The island is home to seven marine parks filled with beautiful rock formations, shipwrecks, and an array of sea life that doesn’t venture so close to the surface. First-time divers in the area should make time for Stoney Bay Marine Park, Anguilla’s first underwater heritage sight. Here you can explore an 18th century sunken ship that still has its cannons, anchors, and other fascinating finds.

Our Recommendation: Shoal Bay Scuba Shack, located in The Valley, assists beginning divers with Open Water certification and more experienced divers with obtaining a Master certification.

Kayaking and Paddleboarding | St. Thomas

Photo credit: Jimi Smith

Photo credit: Jimi Smith

You will likely have a wonderful kayaking or paddleboarding experience anywhere in the Caribbean, but there are some places like St. Thomas that are simply unparalleled. Beginners will enjoy exploring the calm Caribbean bays, while more experienced paddlers may wish to travel to protected wildlife preserves like Bird Island and Cas Cay. In any case, you’re sure to see an abundance of vibrant marine life, especially if you opt for a clear bottom kayak. And for those looking for even more, sign up for a night paddling tour in a kayak or on a paddleboard equipped with LED lights. You’ll be able to observe sea creatures that only come out at night—an experience truly unlike any other.

Our Recommendation: Grab your rental or sign up for an island tour with the Adventure Center, located on-site at Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Resort.

Charter Fishing | Nevis

Family-Charter-Fishing-in-Nevis-Caribbean

The little island of Nevis may not seem like the obvious destination for charter fishing, but it’s in these waters that visitors truly experience the abundance of the sea. Cast your line close to shore in hopes of hooking snapper and grouper among the reefs, or opt for a deep sea fishing excursion where you may come across wahoo, mahi-mahi, mackerel, tuna, and marlin. There are many sport fishing boats departing from Nevis—as well as some larger yachts departing from the nearby St. Kitts—that can accommodate you for half or full day charters. Most captains are also willing to customize trips to include snorkeling, visits to nearby islands, and watching the sunset over the Caribbean Sea.

Our Recommendation: Whether you’re an experienced angler or family with young children, Caribbean Catch in Cades Bay will tailor a cruise right for you.

Four Great Rooms on St. Barth

Four Great Rooms on St. Barth

Given that St. Barth, one of Tradewind Aviation's major Caribbean destinations (flights from San Juan or St. Thomas), is an overseas collectivity of France, let's use a French expression for this story about singular hotel rooms: Crème de la Crème.

On an island with a surplus of great hotel rooms, these are the one-percenters (including a one-percenter that, relatively speaking, is inexpensive).

Cheval Blanc St. Barth Isle de France: The Beach Suites

The glamour rooms at this epitome of the sexy French Caribbean hideaway are the four Beach Suites, 1,500-square-foot loft-like spaces that have private pools (twice as big as the usual plunge), dead-on ocean views, and privacy built in (butler service—just dial 444—and a dining room with a table for four). The decor is French-Cal chic: Mostly white (cotton-and-linen slipcovers, white-textured wall treatment), and faux-weathered wood, with dashes and dots of blush pink, the resort's signature color.

The bathroom is large enough to host a cocktail party for 12 (excluding the outdoor shower and terrace), and one gets a good idea of the expected clientele by opening the refrigerator: Three bottles of Dom (1998 Plenitude 2, 2003 Rosé, and 2006) and three bottles of Ruinart (Blanc de Blancs, Rosé, and Brut). Second-floor suites are better because they're at palm-top level. Four more Beach Suites open in 2017. Cheval Blanc is on Flamands Beach, one of the island's best.

Eden Rock: Christopher Columbus Suite

Photo credit: Eden Rock

Photo credit: Eden Rock

The great rooms at this hotel in St. Jean are 'on the Rock,' a round and craggy outcropping just off the beach. This is the hotel Robinson Crusoe might have built had he gotten an architecture and an interior design degree.

Go for the newest suite, Christopher Columbus (2,000 sq. meters/21,528 sq. ft.), which occupies the former reception area. It's a room made for James Bond, or maybe Goldfinger. The Columbus Suite is much longer than it is wide, and it’s traversed by two stone arches and a plexiglass wall that create separate living and sleeping areas. (The sleeping area also has its own living room.) The walk-in shower is of marble, and the second bathroom has a huge round tub.

It's the living room, though, that mesmerizes. The floor-to-ceiling glass walls look east into the Atlantic. There's the cloud-coffered sky, the horizon, the sea, and directly below, the coral reef that surrounds the hotel. All that space is your new-world discovery. Here, you really are Christopher Columbus in a way, because the world has never quite looked like this before.

Le Guanahani: Signature Suites

Photo credit: Le Guanahani

Photo credit: Le Guanahani

Le Guanahani occupies a niche of its own on St. Barth. It’s the island's only bona-fide, full-service resort: A 16-acre enclave with three restaurants (beach to fine dining), two lighted tennis courts, a cool fitness center right on the beach, St. Barth’s largest spa (with two butler-serviced wellness suites for those who want to live the spa life), a Frederic Fekkai hair salon, an 82-foot-long pool with water purified by ions rather than chlorine (swim all morning without rubbing your eyes), a water-sports center, and a complimentary children’s program. No other resort on the island comes even close to offering a menu like this.

In keeping with that ethos, the resort has over the years created eight Signature Suites, butler-serviced compounds actually. (All but two are larger than 900 sq. ft.) The property spills down a hillside between Grand Cul de Sac and Marigot Bay, and most of these rooms take complete advantage of the geography. The two-bedroom Admiral’s Suite, down on the water, has a 90-degree wrap-around view of Grand Cul de Sac (park your kite-surfer at the door) while the two-bedroom Marigot Suite occupies a high point between the two bays (bring a bag of books to read on the huge terrace by the plunge pool). As for serenity, at the very top of the resort, here the overused “breathtaking” is the mot juste—the view justly savored from the 538-square-foot deck around the pool.

Hotel LeVillage Saint Barth: Room Nine

This is the newest room at this vintage hotel (founded 1971), nestled in the hillside above St. Jean, and laid out slightly willy-nilly fashion, à la French hill towns. The room, like the hotel, is an example of luxury as simplicity—and part of that is the view over Baie de St. Jean from the bed and terrace.

The former takes up most of the indoor space. To the left is a living room, to the right a spacious bath with a walk-in rain shower, one corner of which consists of a rock that the hotel had the good sense to incorporate into the design. The terrace, roofed and fitted with an awning, is big enough to hold a cocktail party for eight, and that outdoor kitchenette becomes your bar.

You've stepped back into a simpler St. Barth at LeVillage—more timber and stucco than marble and glass and a hotel that has been here since 1969. (It was Craig Claiborne's favorite place on the island; he always stayed in Room 10.)

"I remember when there were no villas up there," says owner Catherine Charneau, daughter of the founder, gesturing toward the slope above the hotel.

One other simple luxury: Walking down to St. Jean (10 minutes), having coffee and croissant, window-shopping for bikinis, and going for a swim in Baie de St. Jean. Just as you'd do in France.

 

Featured image courtesy of Hotel LeVillage Saint Barth

Sizing Up Manhattan’s Largest Single Malt Scotch List

Sizing Up Manhattan’s Largest Single Malt Scotch List

Online, it's Keens Steakhouse, but on the awning it's Keens Chophouse. (No apostrophe, please.)

This is just one of the quirks that make this venerable meat-eater's sanctuary on West 36th Street so endearing, opened independently in 1885, when the area was part of the theatre district, but before that part of The Lambs Club, an actor hangout.

Open the heavy wooden door and you're entering the palpable past: Dining rooms of wood-paneled, perpetual dusk courtesy of the frosted glass windows, and of ceilings decorated with the largest collection of churchwarden pipes in the world. These hard-clay, thin-stemmed, small-bowled implements—you've seen them in Dutch paintings—were allegedly the remedy for driving away “evil homourse of the brain.”  They're a remnant of the days when men would leave their favorite warden pipe at their favorite inn. Keens once had a Pipe Club of more than 90,000 members, among them Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Will Rogers, Billy Rose, Grace Moore, Albert Einstein, George M. Cohan, J.P. Morgan, Stanford White, John Barrymore, David Belasco, Adlai Stevenson, General Douglas MacArthur, and “Buffalo Bill” Cody.

Keens-Steakhouse-Scotch-Bar-in-New-York-City

But today we're not here to speak of smoke, but of smoky. Meaning the Keens single malt Scotch list, which at 308 different labels—"plus 10 downstairs that we're holding back," says the suave Brandon Falzone, one of the list's two keepers—is the largest at any restaurant in Manhattan. 

The list requires a triptych menu, and is divided into the traditional single malt genres (Highland, Highland-Speyside, Lowland, Islay, Island, and Campbeltown, plus "Single Malts From Unexpected Places," such as Texas, India, Japan, and Virginia.) The bottles themselves form a grandstand behind the tin-ceilinged bar, with more decks below the sightline. The collection was started in the 1980s by owner George Schwarz as a way of making Keens stand out at a time when the neighborhood was going south. (It's now going north.)

What you get at Keens is access to a single malt museum, with some bottles that are endangered species. "The industry is changing," says James Conley, a 17-year-veteran and the list's senior curator as it were, referring to the fact that distilleries are now increasingly making Scotch ready to drink now—"non-aged and less use of sherry barrels, all geared toward Millennials," he says. He offers the heavily peated Octomore as an example of a single malt that lives up to novice preconceptions. 

Keens-Steakhouse-Bar-in-New-York-City

What you want to go for at Keens are the single malts from distilleries deceased, signified by an asterisk that means "going, going," but that live on here for now (Brora 35-Year-Old, for example).

The fun part of the menu is to pin the tail on the donkey; point to something and ask Brandon or James to explain your shot in the dark. I went for the Ledaig 10-Year-Old from the Isle of Mull, and it lived up to Brandon's précis ("lightly smoked, fleet on the palate"). As for this duo's personal favorites, Conley characterizes the Macallan 25-Year-Old ($174) as "a little piece of Nirvana," but also cites the Highland Park 18-Year-Old ($22, from the Orkneys) and the Caol Ila 15-Year-Old ($22, from Islay) as value standouts. As for Brandon, he's a Springbank man, and suggests the Cask Strength 16-Year Local Barley ($30), an example of the new single malt locavore trend, making the Scotch from barley locally grown.

But then, don't ask for advice. Act the part. Order the Mortlach Rare Old ($24), the Mortlach 18-Year-Old ($46), or the Clynelish James MacArthur ($20, aged 12 years in Bourbon casks and another “going, going” Scotch). Says Conley, "I'd take you for a connoisseur."

Keens-Steakhouse-Bar-Scotch-in-New-York-City

………. 

Fly into New York with Tradewind Aviation, offering scheduled shuttles and private charters from across the Northeast, including Boston, Stowe, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.

 

All images courtesy of Keens Steakhouse