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Getting picked-up from the airport or dropped off for your dinner reservation by your hotel is a luxury that many hotels offer for either an extra charge or as part of the room rate. More often than not, hotels will whisk you away in some sort of luxury sedan like a BMW, Mercedes or Porsche but occasionally, you just have to hide your face when they pull up in an 8-person van or mini-bus.
However, there are a few hotels that totally nail the idea of cool wheels for a courtesy cars. This is a smart move for a few good reasons. One, it shows the hotel has some personality by choosing an interesting or historic car over some predictable corporate whip. Two, it's good advertising around town and three, it gets guests talking about it well after they check-out.
Now, here are some of our favorite rides from around the world.
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Rolls Royce Phantom
Here's one way for a hotel to drum publicity before opening: Place the world's single-largest order for Rolls-Royces ever.
There were no figures released on how much the cars were purchased for, but given that the hotel recently raised another $135 million in funding, we're guessing money was no issue. The total cost of the hotel, shown in rendering format below, will be about $1 billion.
There are rides, and then there are Rides. This is definitely a Ride.
The vintage cars come complete with chauffeur, and will ferry you in and out of town for free on weekend nights. You don’t have to reserve a slot, though it’s recommended – we didn’t, and had to wait an hour or so until there was space.
It's not a rare 1961 Ferrari GT California but it is pretty sweet.
Thompson Chicago has revved up their offerings for hotel guests, thanks to a new partnership with Lexus.
Guests can ride around town in a sleek Lexus IS 350 convertible or a ginormous LX 570 LUV--luxury utility vehicle--without any mileage restrictions, i.e. no one telling you the ride is only good for a one-mile radius from the hotel. The rides are complimentary and feature a pre-programmed navigation system with addresses to Chicago landmarks and nearby road trip destinations outside of Illinois. But of course, you'll still rely on Google Maps anyways.
Guests can also choose to ride in the house car, which is an LS 460 L flagship sedan, driven by a personal chauffeur and equipped with complimentary bottled water, the Chicago Tribune newspaper and Wi-Fi mobile hotspot functionality.
Rates next weekend at Thompson start at $429 a night so having the use of a Lexus during your stay makes that a little more bearable. And if you already own a Lexus, you can book the Thompson Chicago through the Lexus Drivers Site and get a $100 hotel credit which can be used towards dining and drinks at the hotel's Salone Nico or Nico Osteria.
If you’ve been to Tokyo, you know it’s possible to go from historic serenity in one of its temples to futuristic frenzy among its skyscrapers in a split-second. That proximity of the traditional and modern comes through at the Peninsula Tokyo as well; pick the right aspect and you can gaze out from your technology-filled room over the Imperial Palace, and when it’s time for a ride in the house car, your options range from a restored 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II to a very 21st century Audi R8 sports car.
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One of the perks of staying in a luxury hotel is riding in the complimentary house car, which is often a car you'd never be able to afford in real life. We're talking Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous cars like Mercedes, Rolls Royce and Bentley. But now in Santa Monica, Calif., Shutters on The Beach is offering a very 21st century type of house car, one that's quickly become the new "it" brand in luxury--a Tesla Model S.
General manager Gregory Day said the hotel changes out their house car every year but have slowly been moving towards a greener alternative.
"We've always been heavy-Mercedes house," he said, while showing off the Tesla in the hotel's porte-cochère. "We had a CLS 550 when I got here and I think our next one we got, to make it more environmentally-friendly, we got a V6 engine, and then the last car we had was a S400 hybrid Mercedes," Day said. "But the more we learned about it, hybrid isn't that green in a sense because the battery, once it's done, there's no way to recycle it."
The hotel considered electric vehicles but Day said it was hard to find one that would also appeal to their high-end guests. So when the Tesla came out, the hotel dug both its sleek look and its technology.
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Select Loews properties have revved up a partnership with super-cool car brand, FIAT.
Five Loews Hotels & Resorts across the U.S.—Loews Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C., Loews Regency Hotel in NYC, Loews Hollywood Hotel, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and Loews Miami Beach Hotel—will ensure you keep your very important appointment in a chauffeured 2014 FIAT 500L.
Plus, three of the properties—Loews Miami Beach, Loews Hollywood and Loews Santa Monica Beach—really go the distance by offering two complimentary FIAT loaner vehicles (the Fiat 500L and either the Fiat Cabrio or the all-electric Fiat 500e depending on location)—for you to tootle around town on your own for up to three hours a day.
Rooms at Loews Hotels & Resorts go for approximately $209 per night depending on the individual property.
[Photo: Loews Hotels & Resorts]
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While The Dorchester London is tempting cognac connoisseurs with its rare Louis XIII flights, sister hotel and neighbor 45 Park Lane has a suggestion for car aficionados, particularly those with a penchant for the luxury Rolls-Royce kind. And lest you be concerned, there are cocktails involved too.
Book yourself into the Penthouse Suite at the 45-room hotel and you’re handed the keys to a brand new Rolls-Royce Wraith for the afternoon, the latest model carrying the illustrious British RR badge (we’ll forget about that whole German ownership thing for a second). After tooling around town, two specially made Wraith cocktails await in Bar 45, which are also made with Rémy Martin Cognac, with a choice of VSOP, Coeur de Cognac and XO.
The hotel bike might be the ubiquitous amenity these days for tooling around town or the resort grounds, but in certain climates – and hilly terrains – a less strenuous alternative might be preferable.
We came across the perfect solution recently at Amanpuri – the original Aman Resort – in blisteringly hot Phuket, where getting around is both a breeze and breezy, courtesy of a fleet of semi-open buggies fashioned out of ripped up Nissans. Available any time at the main entrance or just a call away, you can be whisked to your room, back to the lobby and the main pool, down to the beach club, up to the spa, or to the top-of-the-hill gym with endless views over the surrounding area.
Sorry, horses. You're not needed anymore, not even for those nostalgic horse-drawn carriage rides.
The Peninsula Beverly Hills, a hotel brand known for their cutting-edge technology and high-flying modes of transportation, is now ferrying their guests around town in these souped up motorcycle-drawn carriages from 7 Wheel Wonders. The hog portion of the vehicle usually resembles a classic car, while the coach part resembles the old coaches of Jane Austen and Cinderella's time. That's the '57 Chevy above and the Old Hollywood in red below. Each ride comes with two "coach concierges" along with drinks and hors d'oeuvres.
Right now, the rides are currently offered to guests partaking in the hotel's treasure hunt, i.e. mostly families, but there's a possibility the rides will be offered to all hotel guests who want to experience an old-timey mode of transportation with a little flair...and an engine roar. Rates at the hotel start around $450 a night.
Members of Fairmont's President's Club can now ride in style as the hotel chain has expanded its partnership with BMW to all US properties and will offer complimentary shuttle service in a BMW 750i Sedan.
Whether you're traveling for business and want to make a flashy arrival at a lunch meeting or just going down the street for a hot dog, it sure beats the hell out of traditional shuttles and taxis. While many hotels now use spacious SUVs to transport guests, this takes the level of comfort (and image) one step further.
Fairmont and BMW seem to be getting along quite well the past few years. This latest roll out is an extension of a program that was initially launched in Canada in 2009, and Fairmont began offering free BMW bicycles to their guests worldwide in 2011.
Membership in Fairmont's Presidents Club is complimentary, so be sure to sign up to take advantage of the swanky shuttle service during your next stay.
It's hard to believe that in 2013, there are hotels that charge for WiFi. We're not talking the budget places, either: while several wallet-friendly chains actually do provide comp internet access, it's the luxury brands that typically nickel-and-dime you for connecting fees, sometimes as much as 20 Euros a day (we're looking at you, Rocco Forte.)
In 2009, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts took a bold move and became the first international five-star brand to drop WiFi charges at all of their hotels, and later did the same for many of their Kerry and Traders brand properties. To keep up with technology—and their tech-savvy guests—Shangri-La last week announced that they are taking connectivity even further by offering free WiFi access in all their hotel cars by the end of 2013.