Face it, flying isn’t getting better. The idea of changing planes in a huge, faceless terminal is no fun as you race miles from gate to gate.
Good news: Tampa International Airport has a steadily growing array of nonstops to some great destinations. Get on in Tampa, get off at your goal. Settle in, eye shades in place. Let’s take a look at four of my favorites.
Our first non-stop is down-island to the Abaco Beach Resort in the Bahamas. You’ll get there via Silver Airways straight from Tampa to Marsh Harbour. Where? Marsh Harbour is the center of action on Abaco Island, and Abaco Beach Resort is the hot ticket for let’s see – honeymooners, boaters, anglers, adventurers and romantic getaways.
All guest rooms and suites have private terraces or balconies overlooking the sea, while condo residences have views plus full kitchens. But with three onsite restaurants, don’t even think about nuking a pot pie!
Insider Tip: The Bistro draws foodies from other islands, and I go straight to the lobster ravioli.
Head to Bay Street for Caribbean shopping and, yum, food!
Insider Tip: Wally’s Fine Dining and Boutique is an Abaco institution that blends Bahamian and Caribbean. Don’t miss the chicken/shrimp carbonara, conch fritters straight from the sea and great coffee by the pound for the kitchenette in your room!
The Abaco Beach Resort has an all-new marina where you can book sport fishing boats (think huge white marlin!) or explorations to the other Out Islands of the Bahamas.
Catch a nonstop to Los Angeles (AA/Delta/United), but don’t stay in the smog. Grab a rental car and head up Pacific Coast Highway to Montecito, which has been in the news as the home of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. You know, Harry and Meghan. Montecito is the star-studded suburb of Santa Barbara, which is described as the California Riviera.
Stay at the Rosewood Miramar Beach, a unique combination of laid-back and five-star lodgings right on the beach. With 123 rooms and 35 suites, try for a Beach House Suite for sand at the doorstep or, if the weather is cool, a Bungalow Suite has a cozy fireplace for listening to the surf outside.
Insider Tips: Caruso’s on the property has Michelin-star food, but check out Bettina’s for pizza (try the meat-lovers). Seafoodies head for Stearns Wharf to the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company for fresh abalone, uni and Dungeness crab. Insider Shopping Tip: Coast Village Road is the Montecito version of Rodeo Drive.
“New York, New York” was Sinatra’s fifth most popular song, but he wasn’t the first to sing it; it was Liza Minnelli in the Scorsese film, “New York, New York.” You can hum it as you jump on Delta, JetBlue or Southwest nonstops to either JFK or LaGuardia. Tell your cabbie there’s only one place to stay in NY: The Carlyle.
This landmark Rosewood property at 76 Street and Madison Avenue exudes class with its Upper East Side location and views of Central Park. The exquisitely-decorated 192 rooms and 92 suites are within walking distance of museums, galleries and upscale shopping.
Insider Tip: The Carlyle is dog-friendly (they offer walkers!) and kid-friendly (no walkers,but fun) events.
Dowling’s at the Carlyle, under Sylvain Delpique of the former 21 Club, defines elegant dining (try the wild burgundy escargot!) while Bemelmans Bar draws socialites, politicians and celebs for Elaine’s Smoky Martinis.
Insider Tip: Sneak away to Café d’Alsace on 2nd Avenue for classic French steak tartare. Want a dive? Head for the appropriately named Le Dive for delicious tuna niçoise and steak frites.
The concierge at The Carlyle can seamlessly put you into great Broadway seats, and you can walk to the tourist stuff like the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth. Great news: the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park is back. If you’re feeling boaty, you can rent a rowboat (quelle romantique!).
Whatever you choose, remember, this is the city that never sleeps!
Nassau, Bahamas exudes Caribbean vibes and is now a nonstop away on Silver Airlines, so dig out your flip-flops and sun tan cream.
Atlantis on Paradise Island, right across from Nassau, is the face of Nassau and the Bahamas, but there are actually six main sections of the property. They are all tied together with an immense water park, the world’s largest open-air marine habitat, a sprawling casino, and 19 bars and 21 restaurants including Nobu and Paranza by Jean-Georges.
The Cove has the best lodgings with oceanfront suites (stocked with Bombay Sapphire gin), an adults-only pool, private cabanas and a lobby with floating water lilies. Opt for a Sapphire Suite with huge windows – over 2,400 square feet – and your own butler. You can have a cabana off one of the two private beaches, or the concierge can book you for a day cruise on a large private yacht. Get 18 holes in at the Ocean Club Golf Course, designed by Tom Weiskopf, or hit the Mandara Spa (I took the Caribbean Coffee Scrub, and my wife the aroma stone therapy massage).
With 21 on-site restaurants, decisions, decisions. Nobu, of course, is Chef Nobu
Matsuhisa’s jewel (yellowtail sashimi with jalapenos), while the simply named Fish, the two-star Michelin restaurant by legendary humanitarian Chef José Andrés, is the go-to for seafood.
But our best friends are winos (in the good sense) and Graycliff Restaurant in downtown Nassau has a wine inventory of – wait for it – a quarter of a million bottles from 5000 vintners in 20 countries.
Insider Tip: Don’t go just for the vino. The Brazilian Rodizio carved at the table is amazing. Or, you can simply stay in the wine cellar, contemplating whether your AmEx card will cover the 1865 Chateau Lafite Rothschild for just $26,000.
Nassau is also great for shopping and you can pick up everything from Rolex to Cartier necklaces at jewelers on East Bay Street – the same street you’ll bag some straw bags at the Straw Market.
So, there are four great trips that deliver you nonstop, no-muss-no-fuss, to very different getaway destinations. Pick your fave, but be sure to look around on the plane. We may be sitting next to you!
Chris Caswell is an award-winning writer and the former editor of several yachting magazines. He has appeared on Oprah as a boating lifestyle expert and hosted the Marine Voyager series on the Speed Channel.
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