If you’ve ever stayed at a Waldorf Astoria property, you know it’s a getaway like few others. From the plush suites fit for royalty to exclusive amenities like an on-call courtesy shuttle, the hotel and resort chain has established itself as one of the premiere brands in the hospitality industry.
Now, the company is taking the idea on the road with the Waldorf Driving Experiences, an exclusive opportunity to get behind the wheel of some of the most coveted sports cars in the world.
The drive, which I recently got to experience in Utah through the Waldorf Astoria Park City, features a Ferrari 458 Italia Spider, McLaren MP4 12-C and Porsche 911 Turbo.
Even as a longtime auto journalist, I quickly realized spending a day behind the wheels of three cars totaling more than half-a-million dollars was one unique opportunity. But it was really the breathtaking views, driving through places like Provo’s Bridal Veil Falls on a crisp fall day, that made this inaugural event so memorable.
The remaining 2014 Waldorf Driving Experiences include cruises in California’s alpine forests, hosted at La Quinta Resort & Club in Palm Springs (October 15–20); the Tonto National Forest in Arizona hosted at The Boulders in Scottsdale (October 24–29); the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana, hosted at The Roosevelt in New Orleans (November 6–11); the Atlantic coastline in Florida, hosted at the Boca Raton Resort & Club (November 14–19); and more beautiful roads in Arizona hosted at the Biltmore in Phoenix (December 2–7).
The one-day events cost $999 per couple (excluding accommodations), which is a steal considering the caliber of cars. All the drives will begin with an introduction and tutorial by world-class Belgian race champion Didier Theys and include routes carefully selected to ensure that guests are treated to some of the country’s most eye-popping scenery.
As for the cars? Well, each one offers a unique take on the experience because of their personalities. Let me explain.
Porsche 911 Turbo
The only bona-fide coupe in the line-coupe, the Porsche 911 Turbo waste no time in urging you to enjoy as much of the road as you can during the Waldorf Driving Experience. With more than 520-horsepower and 487-lb-ft. of torque, the $150,000 car is more concerned with the thrills that come with the twists and turns of the experience than the views.
With 616-horsepower and 443 lb-ft. of torque, the race-inspired McLaren can be a little intimidating at first. However, after the $240, 000 sports car gets a better sense of your driving capabilities, it’s eager to prove that it’s the car you should remember most from the Waldorf Driving Experiences.
Ferrari 458 Italia Spider
Considered the most prestigious of the three, the Ferrari 458 Spider is like having a little of the McLaren and 911 Turbo all wrapped up in one in a more refined experience. With more 562-horsepower and 398 lb-ft. of torque, the $260,000 Italian sports car is as fast as you want it to be, but just as much at home cruising the scenic roads as it is powering through them.
Deciding which car you like most after the drive is really a matter of opinion. But one topic that simply can’t be debated? You’ll have a helluva good time experiencing all three.
Words and photos by Marcus Amick