Five resorts boasting unique driving experiences
For many, the ideal vacation begins once car keys are kept out of sight. After all, some destinations are most appealing for their ability to let travellers escape the trappings of their daily lives.
A few hotels and resorts, however, encourage automotive exploration. The following locations have created unique driving experiences that range from wheel time with the latest in luxury sports cars, sedans, and SUVs to American and European classics. Each of these retreats invites guests to check in, so they can check out the open road in style.
Grand Hotel Tremezzo
Each spring, a cadre of classic automobiles arrive at Villa d'Este, on the shores of Italy's Lake Como, for an exclusive concourse event. Fortunately for guests of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, a four-wheeled Italian beauty is at the ready throughout the year.
The hotel — a converted Art Nouveau palace — offers guests the chance to take out a candy-apple red 1974 Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider for day trips. There may be no better way to enjoy the vistas and roads that sweep through the foothills of the northern Italian Alps than while behind the wheel of a classic convertible.
Guests who take advantage of the opportunity will want to visit any number of the charming, lakefront villages that embrace and evoke la dolce vita. One must-see stop is Villa Sola Sabiati, once the summer home of the Dukes of Serbelloni during the 18th century, which is now managed by Grand Hotel Tremezzo.
Room Rates at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo start at $US515 (about $A650). The Alfa Romeo is available at a charge of approximately $A1.3 per kilometre.
Route 66 may be the United States' most famous road-tripping byway, thanks to songs and television programs popular during the 1960s, but the roads that ramble through the lowcountry of South Carolina offer plenty of scenic drives deserving of praise.
Recognising this, The Restoration, a 54-suite hotel in Charleston, now offers a Retro Rides program that gives guests the chance to rent a 1966 Ford Mustang Convertible, a 1967 Chevy Camaro, or a 1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SL.
The feeling of the warm wind on your face will make you want to drive all day, which is why we recommend a visit to Edisto Island. There isn't a single traffic light on the 175-square-kilometre island, though guests may be tempted to stop along its southern shores, which offer one of the best spots to take in a summer sunset.
The Restoration's room rates start at $US299 (about $A375) per night. The Retro Rides program is priced starting at $US50 (about $A65) per hour or $US250 (about $A315) per day, depending on vehicle.
Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa
Automotive enthusiasts that travel to San Diego would be wise to book a stay at the Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa. The 18-hectare luxury resort's exclusive Porsche Test Drive program offers guests complimentary access to Panamera and Boxster models from 2016.
The vehicles can be driven for up to four hours per day, which is plenty of time to jump on US 5 and drive up the coast to Newport Beach, or take a picturesque ride to Palomar Mountain. Room rates at Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa start at $US639 (about $A805) per night.
Wynn Las Vegas
There is no shortage of places to stay along the Las Vegas strip, but high-rollers can let it ride in style at the Wynn Las Vegas. The resort owns the largest fleet of Rolls-Royce Phantoms in North America, which it reserves for its VIP guests. And since the best way to enjoy a Rolls-Royce of this calibre is, arguably, from the back seat, all of the 14 extended wheelbase Phantoms come with dedicated drivers.
The rear seats are also slightly elevated above the front seats, which gives passengers the perfect perch to take in the sights. The Phantoms are provided gratis, but only to those that the Wynn deems worthy.
Routes du Bonheur from Relais & Châteaux
While the previous hotels and resorts mentioned offer distinctive drives for the day, Relais & Chateaux has created Routes du Bonheur, packages that links a number of the brand's properties together as part of a regional road trip.
Through a partnership with Hertz and BMW, the program allows guests the chance to drive any BMW model they choose, as they make their way from one luxurious accommodation to the next. And every car has the participant's entire course pre-programmed into its navigation system.
For this summer or fall, we recommend the Pennsylvania to Vermont – Nature in America route, which starts at Hotel Fauchere, a 16-room residence that was founded in 1852, and ends at Twin Farms, a boutique hotel and resort that encompasses almost 120 idyllic hectares in the southern Vermont countryside.
Along the way, participants will also stay at The Point, an 11-room woodland retreat that was originally built by the Rockefellers in 1933. My Route du Bonheur rates start at $US5200 (about $A6560), based on the suggested six-night itinerary.