Embark on Unforgettable Luxury Car Journeys with Bentley for the Ultimate Road Trip
Driving to a luxury vacation spot is one thing but what if the car itself is the luxury destination? That’s the premise behind the Bentley Extraordinary Journeys program. And while there are luxurious trappings aplenty, here’s the main draw: You get to do things in a Bentley automobile that you would never do if you owned one. Yes, that means off-road driving. Bentley launched this innovative program this spring with destinations slotted in the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, and New Mexico, where LUXURY MAGAZINE joined the three-day experience.
The Drive Route: Rio Grande Gorge Drive Challenge
The Bentley experience begins upon airport arrival with guests chauffeured to Bishop’s Lodge, an Auberge Resorts Collection (aubergeresorts.com), a sprawling 317-acre property tucked away in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on the outskirts of Santa Fe, the second oldest city in America that’s noted for its distinctive adobe brick architecture. On hand is a versatile pick of Bentleys: a four-door Flying Spur (starting at $215,000), the touring Continental GT and its convertible cousin (starting at $240,000), and a Bentayga SUV ($200,000).
The drive to Taos—what Bentley calls the Rio Grande Gorge Drive Challenge—passes through Native American Pueblo land. The route crosses the Rio Grande several times and the gorge is 800 feet at its deepest. But the fun part starts at the small, isolated Junction Bridge over the river. There’s an escarpment just beyond the bridge with a dodgy, dirt track that leads to the top and to make the driving more interesting, a slight drizzle begins to fall to put mud under the wheels. But only one adjustment to the vehicle is actually required—a simple tap on the dashboard screen raises the suspension for easy clearance of any potential obstacles. Otherwise, the Bentleys grip the road like a determined bunch of local bighorn rams. The Bentley owners on hand are suddenly viewing the cars in a new light. Once over the summit, the drive continues across a landscape out of an old Western film or a Georgia O’Keefe painting. The final destination is a small airfield in Taos where the cars are driven onto the tarmac and guests board a private jet for a flight back to Santa Fe.
For the guests on this trip, it’s an opportunity to meet the faces behind the brand, an opportunity to be savored as they are all Bentley owners. The first night’s welcome dinner was held at The Compound (compoundrestaurant.com) in Santa Fe, a restaurant so renowned for its 500-bottle wine list it was honored with the 2023 Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence.
The experiences only get better. At midday on the drive to Taos, there is a stop for a private tour of Ra Paulette’s spectacular hand-carved art cave called The Cave of Human Kindness, one of more than a dozen caves the self-taught sculptor has carved into New Mexican hillsides since the 1990s. An excellent lunch is served courtesy of award-winning chef Graham Dodds at the adjacent Nosa (an acronym for North of Santa Fe) Restaurant (www.nosanm.com), which serenely overlooks the scenic Ojo Caliente River Valley.
While Nosa is a traditional restaurant, dining experiences include non-traditional locations that guests are brought to in chauffeured Bentleys. One dinner is served at Santa Fe’s Gerald Peters Gallery (gpgallery.com) where the art exhibition whets your appetite while an after-dinner tasting of Macallan scotch whiskey is the digestif treat. But the most unusual private dining experience occurs under the desert night sky at the remote Rancho Alegre (www.casadesantafe.com), a 22-room, nouveau-Western adobe property complete with stagecoaches and a chuck wagon. The outstanding multi-course dinner orchestrated by chef and food historian Dr. Lois Ellen Frank of Red Mesa Cuisine LLC (redmesacuisine.com) is a fusion of Native American fare and ritual. It’s a unique indoctrination to the cultural diversity of New Mexico and confirmation that the state is an extraordinary destination, especially when experienced Bentley-style. $19,950 per person; Bentleymotors.com