August 18, 2014
Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts is releasing an ultimate driving experience at six of the brand’s locations that will allow guests to drive several luxury vehicles with a professional driver.
The program will take place this fall at select Waldorf Astoria locations across the United States and will allow guests to gain firsthand experience with racecars from Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche. Since specific brands are featured, the brand may attract loyalists of the particular models.
"Waldorf Astoria has always been about delivering unforgettable moments and we believe this new experience will surpass our guests' expectations," said Stuart Foster, vice president of marketing at Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, McLean, VA.
"Waldorf Astoria Driving Experiences give our guests something that no other brand can or has offered," he said.
Waldorf Astoria gives guests unprecedented access to an amazing collection of super cars in a single road driving experience. Getting behind the wheel of a Ferrari or McLaren, staying at Waldorf Astoria Park City, enjoying the local scenery winding through Provo Canyon up to Deer Creek Reservoir, and making friends along the way will certainly be an experience one never forgets."
A day as a racecar driver
The driving experience will feature a Ferrari 458 Italia Spider, McLaren Mp4-12C and a Porsche 911 Turbo. Didier Theys, a professional racecar driver, will guide the sessions.
The experience begins at the hotel and a member of the Waldorf Astoria Driving Team will meet the guests to provide an overview of the drive. The drive will be led by Mr. Theys and other professional drivers who will drive through a predetermined route. Guests will be offered refreshments and will have the opportunity to switch cars at rest stops.
There will be three driving sessions on each date of the event, one morning, one midday and one evening drive.
The route will pass landmarks in the locations. For example, the Utah trip will take the guests by Provo Canyon and Bridal Veil Falls.
During the route guests will have the opportunity to drive the participating vehicles.
Guests at Waldorf Astoria Park City, UT, La Quinta Resort & Spa, CA, The Boulders, AZ, The Roosevelt, LA, Boca Raton Resort & Club, FL and Arizona Biltmore, AZ will have the opportunity to experience this driving event.
Driving experience will be this fall
The package includes accommodations and at least a one night stay is required to participate in the experience.
Waldorf Astoria is asking participants to interact with the hotel on social media through the hashtag #WaldorfExperience when posting about the driving experience. By using the hashtag, guests are entering themselves to potentially win a free stay at a Waldorf Astoria property.
Creating unique experiences for guests is critical for hotel brands to transform newer guests into brand loyalists. Other hotels have presented similar events.
For instance, hospitality chain The Peninsula Hotels launched a program to better immerse guests in the native culture of each hotel location.
The Peninsula Academy assisted guests plunge into the heart of their hotel’s country or city. Each hotel offered several programs that submerge guests into the art, cuisine, fashion, style and culture of the location and presented guests with greater opportunities to connect with the city and country and the individual Peninsula hotel (see story).
Also, Four Seasons Hotel Seattle offered guests the opportunity to witness the inner workings behind artist Dale Chihuly’s pieces.
The excursion was part of the brand’s Extraordinary Experiences and allowed guests to see the behind-the-scenes of the artist and his team’s creations and enjoy a VIP tour of Seattle’s Chihuly exhibition. The package allowed guests to gain a deeper understanding of the Washington-born artist while enjoying Four Seasons accommodations (see story).
Having a special package or a once-in-a-lifetime experience that guests can partake in resonates with them and creates a relationship with the hotel.
"Everyone secretly loves to be asked where they went on their last vacation and what they did," Mr. Foster said.
"Discerning guests want experiential and customized packages, and we've created a program that truly resonates with them," he said. "The U.S. market was the perfect destination to pilot the program because our hotels are situated near beautiful and scenic driving areas.
"We envision rolling out the program to Europe in 2015 where we have hotels in locations like Berlin, Rome and Edinburgh."
Nancy Buckley, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York