Some people travel by private plane because they find it practical – their schedule is so packed and their time so valuable that they simply can’t afford to waste it sitting around in some airport lounge waiting to board. For others, the allure of flying their own plane is paramount, and they’ll take to the skies at the slightest pretext or opportunity. For yet others, the private plane is a symbol of freedom, the ability to go where few others can. It’s for this last group that the destination is the most important part of flying, and what better destinations than places where man and nature have conspired to create places of singular beauty? Here are five such places.
St. Moritz, Switzerland
Judging by the finding of votive offerings of swords, needles, and other artifacts from the Bronze Age, the springs at St. Moritz have been venerated for over 2,000 years. This veneration did not lessen in the Christian era, when the wealthy took pilgrimages to bathe in the springs’ healing waters. Today, St. Moritz is known more for its winter sports than for its springs, with skiing, ice skating, and snowboarding available. What hasn’t changed is that it remains a playground for the rich, with opulent accommodations to match the stunning scenery. Well-heeled travelers can stay in luxurious hotels like the Kempinski Grand and the Kulm Hotel. The nearest airport is in Samedan, a town 5 kilometers away.
A retreat for celebrities and the wealthy, this ski town may be the only one with both Louis Vuitton and Prada boutiques. Jet-setters can take in the view and enjoy the luxurious accommodations at places like the century-old Hotel Jerome and the celebrity favorite, The Little Nell. They can choose to relax and enjoy the wide range of music and food choices that serve this town of high-income vacationers, or they can participate in any of a wide range of outdoor activities which vary with the season. The closest airport is Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, but its size is only sufficient for small planes, and traffic tends to stop in inclement weather. This makes Denver the closest dependable airport, though it’s 4 hours away by car.
One of the classic jewels of the French Riviera, its scenery and sunlight enchanted painters in the 19th century, attracting such luminaries of the art world as Matisse, Signac, and Bonnard. It’s also been a darling of designers since the 1920s, when Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparrelli were regular visitors, and its prominence in the film world was assured after Brigitte Bardot was discovered here. Today, St. Tropez continues to be a playground for models, millionaires, and celebrities, and the restaurants and shops lining the streets of this small town have prices and quality merchandise that reflect this. Although the most romantic way to approach St. Tropez is probably by sea, aviation enthusiasts can fly into the La Mole-St. Tropez airport 15 kilometers away and proceed to the town by either car or helicopter.
This is the largest island in Thailand, and its size and proximity to several smaller islands means anyone can have their ideal tropical beach experience, regardless of whether they want solitude or to see and be seen. Watersports options are plentiful, with diving, snorkeling, and sailing; night life, dining, and hotel options also abound. Other aspects of Thai culture, such as temples, can also be found on Phuket, and anyone who tires of the beaches can explore other parts of the island, such as the dramatic views from Prom Thep Cape, the biggest waterfalls in Thailand, and the forested parts of this large island. Phuket’s international airport means that access for international travelers is easy.
Santorini is the postcard picture of a Mediterranean island, and its beaches, landscape, sunsets, and villages with white houses perched on volcanic rock have been celebrated in videos, films, and photographs across the decades. In fact, many contend that this is the most beautiful island in the world. However, the island’s rugged landscape means that though luxury accommodations abound, most places have a lot of stairs, and the many interesting nooks and crannies of the island, its scattered beaches and villages, are most rewarding to the adventurous tourist. The same can be said for the food scene: although there are many excellent restaurants offering international cuisine, being adventurous and tasting the local food and wine offerings is an integral party of experiencing this island’s charms. Access is easy by air since Santorini’s airport is a destination for many airlines as well as chartered flights.
Brandon Peters is an entrepreneur, foodie, shutterbug, and travel enthusiast. He loves exploring unique cultures and writing about them.