Eye on Travel

Radio Guest List –Balmoral Resort in Haines City, Florida– May 25, 2019

Photo: Balmoral Resort

This week’s broadcast of Eye on Travel comes from the Balmoral Resort in Haines City, Florida (midway between Orlando and Tampa). We’ll have a tribute to the legendary writer Herman Wouk (The Caine MutinyWinds of War) who died this month at the age of 103. And there’s an update on the investigation of the Boeing 737 Max. Also joining the show is Wall Street Journal Travel Editor Scott McCartney, who explains the real price differentials between first class and coach, based on square inches. Patrick Smith, Commercial Airline Pilot and Author of Cockpit Confidential, talks about the 737 Max as well as Boeing’s future — in context with America’s current remarkable safety record, where there has only been one fatal crash in the last 11 years. And Craig Pittmann, Journalist and Author of Oh, Florida! How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country, describes some of the weirdest facts about the Sunshine State including little-known facts about Polk County. There’s all of this and more when Eye on Travel broadcasts from Haines City, Florida.


Click here to listen to the show streaming live from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 25, 2019.

Have a travel question? Then ask Peter. E-mail him at peter@petergreenberg.com, or tweet your questions to @petersgreenberg (include #AskPeter).


Gary Kenny, CEO of Feltrim Group, describes Balmoral Resort and its concept of combining a resort and Airbnb concept. Each of the homes at Balmoral are individually-owned, and Balmoral acts as a property manager for the homes. The distance to theme parks and an international airport has made this a place where family can have easy access for reunions. The most popular house has four bedrooms and four baths, with prices off-season for as low at $20 a head per night.  The other big appeal is that when you stay at the big theme parks, you miss out on seeing the real Florida. When you are a bit away from the theme parks, you can experience the lakes, groves, and other natural aspects of Florida.


Marc Zimmerman, Sports Director for Polk County, talks about how the county has an average of four to five sporting events per weekend. Grassroots and state-level events are also being recruited to the county, which draws people from outside areas and contributes to its record-breaking year of over 260 events. He also shares more about spring training for the Detroit Tigers. This major sports team has signed a contract with Lakeland for the next two years.


Robb Kenyon, Culinary Director at the Balmoral Resort, discusses how the atmosphere is created at the outdoor Balmoral Bar & Grill that invites both visitors and locals. Its international travelers typically want something simple like a grilled cheese or a burger. Heavier options, like salmon plates, weren’t as popular for lounging by the pool. There are also daily specials to change the menu during the off-season for locals.


Jim Elensky, Police Chief at the Haines City Police Department, reveals that Haines City is the fastest growing city in Central Florida. He describes its efforts in combating the increased crime that naturally comes with growth. Thanks to creative initiatives though, he has reduced crime in the city by 29% since becoming Police Chief. Then, he describes another major problem: traffic. With an increase in population, there is an increase in traffic. He believes there are two significant ways to relieve this congestion. The first, and what he feels is the best route, is to install a high-speed rail system to take those in the suburbs directly in and out of Orlando. The other is to become a smart light city, where the traffic lights change depending on the time of day and the flow of traffic.


Scott McCartney, Travel Editor for the Wall Street Journal, explains how many airlines are having trouble justifying the cost increase between economy and first class on domestic flights. First class seats on international flights might get you a lot more room, but domestic first class costs three times as much without providing much more space. Then, he reveals how the moving map has become the most-used app on the plane, which will also be the place for airlines to make money. Many airlines are working on adding functions to the map app to make it possible to book tickets, make restaurant reservations and create other bookings with third parties.


Craig Pittmann, Journalist and Author of Oh, Florida! How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country, describes some of the weirdest facts about the Sunshine State. One of the strangest facts about the state is that Santeria rights are protected when it comes to committing animal sacrifices on courthouse steps. Many mornings, you’ll find decapitated chickens, sacrificed to help bring good luck to loved ones who are facing legal trouble. He also talks about the population growth of Florida with 900 people moving to the state a day. The biggest economic driver of the state is tourism.


Patrick Smith, Commercial Airline Pilot and Author of Cockpit Confidential, talks about the 737 Max and Boeing’s future. From his point of view, this does look like a software problem and not the plane itself. He compares this situation to the DC-10, which had a known issue with the door. With the DC-10, American Airlines saw the memo and took it seriously, unfortunately Turkish Airlines didn’t. It was not a mandatory service, but it was a service bulletin that was not held at the same level of importance or urgency. However, he feels we’ve moved through these sort of catastrophes and airline issues before, and the airlines have managed to overcome and learn from the past. He then points to the United States’ current remarkable safety record, where there has only been one fatal crash in the last 11 years.