Me Tarzan, you Jane. This is what you say from your swing seat that hangs over your private plunge pool in your room. You say this as you gaze out the open wall of your room — nothing obstructs the lush, tropical view of paradise; it's a floor to ceiling wall of glass. This is Ladera, an intimate resort on the island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean that was recently voted the number one hotel in the world by Condé Nast Traveler readers. Ladera was once one of St. Lucia's oldest cocoa plantations; it was transformed into a resort in 1982. It offers just six villas and 21 suites and all of the rooms are "missing" a fourth wall with no windowpanes or sliding doors to obstruct the views or dull the sounds of the rainforest. And, yes, each of the rooms has a private plunge pool. Ladera is located in the port town of Soufriere. Either of St. Lucia's airports offers easy access. The smaller George Charles Airport (runway 5,734 feet) has the distinction of running parallel to a beautiful beach. Hewanorra International Airport (runway 9,022 feet), however, is closer to Ladera.
Sometimes the beach and its requisite tropical drinks don't cut it. Sometimes you need brandy in front of a roaring fire and the full moon slung over a desolate shore. After you land on Tofino Airport's 5,000-foot runway and you settle in to the Wickaninnish Inn, you may hope for stormy weather. Why? Because the "Wick" is situated on the west coast of Vancouver Island — at the edge of Canada's Pacific Rim. You can't find a more dramatic front-row seat for Mother Nature's wrath than this inn on the open ocean"with nothing between us and Japan." The "Wick" offers a Storm Watchers package from $800 for two.
Many flight-card firms offer an alternative to flying your own aircraft while still enjoying the benefits of GA flying. Typically you deposit a set amount with the firm and then use it for flight time.
Blue Star Jets. Customers place deposits of $50,000 to $1 million from which flight costs are deducted. Jets range from the Beechjet 400A ($2,300 per hour) to a Boeing business jet ($11,000 per hour).
JetNetwork. Charges are deducted from deposits of $100,000 to $500,000. Gain access to some 100 jets including the 19-passenger Bombardier Global Express ($7,850 per hour).
Marquis Jet. Offers cards in 25-hour increments and is affiliated with fractional provider NetJets. Nine jet types are available including a Citation V Ultra ($120,000 for the 25 hours).
Sentient Jet. Offers three memberships defined by initial rates of investment — $100,000, $150,000, and $200,000 — each with different perks and options. Members can choose almost any newer jet flying today.
Skyjet. Offered by Bombardier Flexjet, flight hours are available in the fleet of Learjet and Challenger aircraft. The cards are available in 25-, 50-, and 100-hour increments.
Here's a way to fill out your logbook in high style.
Krone Pens, an Illinois-based pen manufacturer that has its pens handcrafted in Italy, offers limited editions of themed pens, including three with aviation themes. The Wright Brothers' pen is decorated with a scene of the first flight in Kitty Hawk with ghosted images of Wilbur and Orville. Above and below the painted barrel of the pen are sterling silver crosshatch borders, symbolizing the structure of the aircraft's wings. Within the crisscross-engraved clip is a portion of the actual wing fabric of the Wright's airplane. If you can find one, the pen sells for about $3,600. Krone has built its reputation for unusual pens honoring historic events; its first foray was with the Abraham Lincoln pen, which contains DNA of the nation's sixteenth president. Yes, his DNA. The Amelia Earhart pen ($2,300) has a quote from the aviatrix — "Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace." And The Lindbergh writing instrument ($3,000) has a piece of the Spirit of St. Louis motor in its cap and Charles Lindbergh's signature on the silver band of the barrel.
Worlds are colliding at Bill Gates' Microsoft — since 2001 developers have been working on Surface, an interactive table that will blur the line between the physical and virtual world. Surface recognizes physical objects placed on the table. Set your Blackberry on the table and transfer photos on to the tabletop, shuffle them or create a layout like an art director, assemble, write a message, and send them in an e-mail. The table reacts to your fingers. You can move playlists from a friend's iPod, share photos, make phone calls — all on the surface of the table. Users can actually "grab" digital information with their hands and interact with content through touch and gesture, without the use of a mouse or keyboard. Soon to be available in restaurants, hotels, and retail establishments, Surface claims the experience will transform the way people shop, dine, entertain, and live. Starwood Hotels and Resorts will initially launch Surface at Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Starwood's largest and most global brand. Surface will bring interaction, connectivity, and play to the hotel lobby experience, currently being rolled out in key cities worldwide. Surface will enable guests to browse and listen to music, create their own playlists, send photos home, download books, and even order food and drinks — and it recognizes credit cards.
Your aircraft emergency locator transmitter can bring help within hours, but a 406 MHz personal locator beacon, especially one with GPS, can determine your exact position, transmit it to rescuers, and have help on the way in less than 20 minutes. It's the difference between a night on a cold mountain or the quick appearance of a helicopter. A.C.R. Electronics makes a full array of rescue equipment, including personal locators ranging from $450 to $650, emergency flags, signaling lights — pretty much everything you need to bring a nightmare to an end. Among the 28 national retailers are: Sporty's Pilot Shop, Cabella's, L.L. Bean, and REI.
Eye protection from the sun dates way back to the Chinese emperors who held emeralds to their eyes to minimize the glare from the sun. Today's sunglasses are not as pricey as a pair of emeralds, but there are a lot of choices. For an aviator's needs — especially a pilot who needs to see his LED screen — there are a couple of hard and fast rules. Number one is polarization; just say no. Also the lens color is important to minimize the glare — gray is the best choice. The best sunglasses have glass or polycarbonate lenses, transmit less than 25 percent of the available light, and should not distort colors, distances, or shapes. Top of our list? Serengeti eyewear with Drivers gradient lenses. Also favored by our staff — Oakley Minute with its three-point fit system; Ray Ban G-15 XLT, which have gray-green lenses that allow 15 percent of the light through; Randolph Engineering sunglasses with mineral glass lenses; Scheyden precision sun eyewear; and VedaloHD by ColorEyes with color-enhancing lens technology.
Men and women get equal treatment at the spas at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in the mountains of southwest Pennsylvania. At both the Woodlands Spa for women and Estuary for men the "taking the Kur" treatments involve such indulgences as body polishing, mud and algae wraps, essential oil treatments, and herbal massages. The 3,000-acre resort and spa is easily accessible to private aircraft — its 3,900-foot paved runway sits just steps from the resort's Chateau LaFayette Hotel. There are more than 300 guestrooms, suites, townhouses, and luxury homes on the property, but it is the massive Chateau that's the real looker. And, of course, after your treatments here, you'll be a looker too. You can also take a Hummer driving course and do some world-class skeet shooting at the "shooting academy" — a favorite of our staff. The resort even provides the shotguns, ammo, and guides.
Gary Sinese was no wimp but he still couldn't get into space. Tom Hanks got all the glory. Think you've got the right stuff? Here's your chance to find out. Incredible Adventures and the National Aerospace Training & Research (NASTAR) Center in Pennsylvania have teamed up to offer an intense two-day introduction to space flight. You'll receive classroom briefings and centrifuge and altitude chamber training before completing a simulated suborbital flight. The course uses the same sophisticated simulators used to train astronauts and fighter pilots. Introductory pricing for "Space on Earth" is $4,950 plus lodging. Programs begin October 2007.
Santa Barbara, California, is well known for its fabulous weather — average temperatures at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, soothing ocean breezes, and sunsets painted by the hand of God. Bacara, a 78-acre oceanside resort, which features two golf courses and a beachfront, is just 10 minutes from the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (two 4,100-foot runways). Sandpiper has been rated one of the top 25 public golf courses in the country by Golf Digest magazine. It is adjacent to the Bacara Resort and Spa. It has a 74.5 rating and is the site of the PGA tour qualifying school. Its 7,000-yard course is situated next to the ocean. Two miles from Bacara is the Glen Annie course. Its views of the Channel Islands are incredible; this par-72 course was designed by architects Damian Pascuzzo and Robert Muir Graves. Bacara offers one, three, and four-story villas overlooking the ocean. From Frette linens and towels to state-of-the-art entertainment systems, its rooms are the height of luxury. Three zero-edge saline swimming pools set at exactly 83 degrees F complete the picture.
Unless you're in a uniform or actually in the cockpit, there's no way your outward appearance can reveal your status as a pilot. Unless you happen to be wearing that one essential pilot accessory: a pilot watch. What's a pilot watch? First off, it must be conspicuously large (at least one and one-half inches in diameter), have a suitably large or ornate wristband, and weigh in somewhere around a quarter-pound. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but you get the idea — this must be a watch of substance.
There are many such watches on the market, but which has the pedigree so necessary for "ultimate" status? High in the running is the Breitling Model 701 Navitimer. At about $4,650, the 701 Navitimer is a purist's watch with a heritage. It's based on the historic 1952 Model 806 Navitimer — the same watch that was endorsed as the official watch of AOPA, and bore the AOPA wings on its face back in the day. The 701 is a self-winding watch with a stopwatch function and a rotating bezel that serves as the outer scale of an E6-B flight computer. While the 701 wasn't the first watch with a built-in E6-B (that honor goes to the 1942 Breitling Chronomat), it's a distinguishing feature of all watches in the current Navitimer line. The 701 also shows the date, and its stopwatch can cover time frames anywhere from a few seconds to 12 hours. The 701 has a massive black leather band, secured by a metal clasp. It's the same watch worn by actor/pilot John Travolta.
The other Navitimers let you choose among many options — a blue or white face, for example (the 701 has a black face), or gold-and-stainless steel-, or blue- or brown leather bands. The Navitimer World, a true quarter-pounder if there ever was one, has a hand that shows Zulu time.
But of all these meaty designs, the 701 is our pick. It's ostentatious, yet somehow minimalist when you compare it with other, gaudier pilot watches. It does it all, and it's a true heirloom. (Of course, so is the 806 with the AOPA wings, which even today can fetch a respectable price on eBay and other sales venues. Those were discontinued years ago.)
If you really want to ramp up the pilot mojo, go for a Navitimer with the solid red-gold casing and solid gold bracelet. It's a mere $25,000. Are you worth it? — Thomas A. Horne
Author Nelson DeMille's hero, NYPD Detective John Corey, in his latest caper Wild Fire, decides the government can take care of his lodging — no matter the cost. So Corey books a $1,700-per-night room at The Point Resort in Saranac Lake, New York, while investigating a plot to unleash global chaos. As Corey discovers, there are no signs to The Point so driving there is a near impossibility without help from the staff. However if you fly into Adirondack Regional Airport (two runways, 6,573 feet and 3,998 feet) you will receive an escort to The Point where you'll find 11 distinctive guest quarters each with huge chiseled stone fireplaces. The Point is one of the great Adirondack camps built in the 1900s as retreats for the very wealthy. The Rockefeller family built what is now The Point in 1933. Today it is sumptuous and very, very, very private. A good place to save the world.