Book a luxury car adventure vacation package and forget the saddle and explore the American West with style and speed in the finest autos around.
You head to cowboy country in the American West and you might think you’ll be saddling up soon. But at Gateway Canyons Resort, located in far western Colorado, near the Utah border, the horses are found under the hoods—several of them, in fact—of Ferraris, Aston Martins, Corvettes and Ford GTs.
By booking the Western Road Adventures package at the resort, you get access to these gorgeous, so-called “super cars” for three to five days. The itinerary allows you to drive one car in the morning for a couple of hours to a stunning location, have lunch, then drive a different car on the way back.
I participated in a test drive (if you will) of the program last fall, which is scheduled to launch in May. Did I expect to have fun? Sure. Did I expect to fall in love? No, but I did. Hard. Who knew how much I would need a red 2005 Ford GT. (OK, really, really want.) So much so that I maneuvered my way into getting to drive it three times and ride shotgun once or twice.
The 125-acre adobe-style resort, about an hour from Grand Junction, is owned by John Hendricks, the founder of Discovery Channel and a huge car enthusiast. On the resort property, he’s established the private Gateway Colorado Automobile Museum, which houses about 45 classic American cars.
Currently with fewer than 60 rooms (expansion plans are in the works), the property feels luxuriously uncrowded even when it’s full. It sits in the shadow of a landmark red rock formation called The Palisade. Rooms are quite large, and several have a private hot tub in an enclosed patio. There’s a restaurant, spa, pool and activity center, which can set you up with bikes, ATVs and myriad things to do. But enough about trivial matters.
After meeting the other participants at a brief orientation, we got instructions from the tour guide and the small group of us went around the table and picked our first luxury sports car to drive. The instructions were to keep up and don’t crash. Of course, we signed waivers, but who reads those anyway?
A silver Aston Martin DB9 Convertible looked irresistible to me (hello, James Bond), but once I hopped in I realized my mistake. It was an automatic, though it had paddle shifters on the steering wheel. I prefer stick shift, but suffered through it. (Smile.)
Over the course of the following few days, I drove every car on offer, but my favorite was the Ford GT, with the 2005 Ferrari 360 Spider Convertible a very close second. Each day had a different stunning landmark as the mid-day target. We saw the Hanging Flume, Moab and the Colorado National Monument, where I was convinced I was going to lose control of my all-muscle, bright yellow Corvette and plunge into the canyons.
It was unbelievable to me that we regular drivers were allowed to drive through all the winding canyon roads that make up this part of the country. At times, I will admit, we went way, way over the speed limit on some of those long stretches of open road in between canyons. These cars cry out for it, frankly, which at one time I would have said sounds like a ridiculous statement, except I now know it to be true.
Two other car-centric activities happened at the resort. One night, we dined with the cars. Literally. Our meal was served to us in a giant tent where all the cars had been parked. This was the first night, a little get-to-know-you event. Our last night, we dined in the auto museum, among one-of-a-kind American classics such as the 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 dream car. We got to wander the museum, which was closed to the public, and even get into some of the cars.
The final morning was spent off-roading in Land Rover Defenders. It was quite a different experience bumping around in these huge vehicles compared to our previous fast rides, but our guide showed us rock art and petroglyphs of the Anasazi and Freemont tribes who once made their homes there. Slowing down proved to be worth it, but I still can’t wait to get behind the wheel of a Ford GT again.
The Western Road Adventures package is an all-inclusive adventure vacation package. This means all lodging, meals, house wine, beer, soft drinks, events, activities (horseback riding, ATVs, mountain bikes, rafting, kayaking) and one spa treatment. The five-day package is $10,000 per couple; a three-day package is $7,000 per couple.
2006 Aston Martin DB9 Convertible Volante
2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
2005 Ferrari 360 Spider Convertible
Land Rover Defender
Western Road Adventures. Tel. 301-755-2061. www.westernroadadventures.com
Gateway Canyons Resort. 43200 U.S. Highway 141, P.O. Box 339, Gateway, Colo. Tel. 970-931-2458. www.gatewaycanyons.com
Gateway Colorado Automobile Museum. 43224 U.S. Highway 141, P.O. Box 339, Gateway, Colo. Tel. 970-931-2895. gatewayautomuseum.com
Themes: Luxury Travel
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