Want To Drive a Ferrari? Head to the Waldorf Astoria
Behind the wheel of a Ferrari, a McLaren, and a Lamborghini all in one day? It's not just a fantasy: Condé Nast Traveler editor Mara Balagtas got to live every car aficionado's dream thanks to the Waldorf Astoria's new driving experience.
Last month, the Waldorf Astoria launched a one-of-kind driving experience, and I was lucky enough to take the program for a (literal) test drive. Between now and December 20, guests at twelve Waldorf Astoria properties in the Unites States, Europe, and the United Arab Emirates are able to take a spin in their choice of car, from a dream list that includes a Ferrari 458 Spider, a McLaren MP4-12C, a Lamborghini Murcielago, and a Porsche 911 GT3.
Each drive begins at a Waldorf Astoria property. Mine took place in New York City, so we started the day at the historic hotel on 49th Street and Park Avenue. My first choice: the Ferrari. For a girl who worships at the feet of Enzo Ferrari, this was a moment to savor. The slow guttural purr of the car as it starts is incomparable—a sort of “feel it to believe it” experience.
Led by two-time 24 Hours of Daytona Champion, Didier Theys, we wove through Manhattan, headed for the open highways of New Jersey. A few miles out of the city, we made a quick pit stop to swap cars. Though I would have been perfectly content to stick with my beloved Ferrari, I decided to give the McLaren a try. It was my first time driving one, and it soon became clear to me what all the hype is about—it is a brilliantly engineered machine. And don’t be fooled by the photo, this British bomb didn’t keep me in the back of the pack for too long.
The great thing about the Waldorf's program is the access it grants you. As someone who has participated in multiple track days and motorsports programs in the past, I was impressed with the fact that I had the opportunity to try not one, but three of these supercars on the open road. And because the trip lasts approximately two-and-a-half hours, I had plenty of time to compare each driving experience.
My final car was the Lamborghini. I'll admit, I didn't know too much about the car, but driving one made me a convert. The car had an incredible rawness to it that the others did not. In a Lamborghini you can actually feel the engine growling, almost like a living thing. The V12 engine combined with about 661 horsepower gave me the kind of drive I've dreamed about since I was a kid. It's the epitome of everything you want in a supercar. Put another way: Even if you don't care about cars, this will turn you into a fan.
We finished our session and headed back to the hotel. Luckily for me, that meant one last glimpse of rolling hills and gorgeous greenery before re-entering the hustle and bustle of the city. By the time we pulled up to the hotel, I was grinning from ear to ear, and I still do every time I think of getting behind the wheel of those cars.
The Waldorf Astoria driving experiences will run from now until December 20, 2015 and are available to both hotel guests and non-guests. The program is $999 per couple, excluding accommodations. To experience a trip yourself you can contact any Waldorf Astoria location, worldwide.
RYAN PLETT/WALDORF ASTORIA HOTELS & RESORTS