As you bank over Washington's Hood Canal in a floatplane, you realize just how far 37 air miles have brought you. Seattle is still within sight to the northeast, and the snowcapped Olympic Mountains rise just above the wing to the west. Below is a 60-mile-long fishhook-shaped fjord whose deep, peaceful spirit takes it light-years out of the mainstream.
When your plane makes its soft water landing and taxis up to the dock at the Alderbrook Resort & Spa, life slows down. "Traffic" out here means kayaks and yachts. The bark of seals drowns out the din of the city you left behind, and at night the canal's placid silence is just what you need to decompress.
Clark Gable came here in the 1930s (you can rent his room at Willcox House near Seabeck), and over time cabins filled in along the shore near Belfair. Development on the Alderbrook Resort property started in 1913, and by the 1960s it had become the canal's premier resort. Now, thanks to a $13 million transformation brought about by a visionary hotel group, the Alderbrook has once again become a coveted destination ― and so has Hood Canal itself.