This year the luxurious Waldorf Astoria hotels & resorts introduced a new driving experience in cooperation with Lamborghini exclusively for VIP guests. The driving experience gives these guests the opportunity to try three of the latest Lamborghinis with official Lamborghini test drivers.
The Waldorf driving experiences are hosted at 12 selected Waldorf Astoria properties worldwide and we had the opportunity to join this exclusive event at the stunning Waldorf at the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai.
The Waldorf Astoria Driving Experience started this Summer at their hotel in Park City, Utah. Following other stops in Boca Raton, Paris and Ras al Khamah the travelling event arrived in Dubai this November. Next year the Driving Experience will continue at another seven Waldorf properties around the world.
As the name suggests the Waldorf Drive is about driving and the partner of choice Lamborghini brought three different models to the start: the Lamborghini Huracan, Huracan Spyder and Huracan RWD. All come with Lamborghini’s famous V10 engine and a power output between 580 and 610hp.
The official program includes a 30 minute drive in each of these models but since 30 minutes is barely enough to reach the entrance of the artificial Palm Jumeirah from the resort our ride was extended a bit. Before we can hit the road there is a drivers briefing and some mandatory paperwork to sign.
With that out of the way it is time to pick a car. Since I had already driven the ‘normal’ Huracan I opt for the grey rear-wheel drive version. The exterior is largely the same as the regular AWD coupe but a few subtle hints give away that this is a different version including a slightly different design on the front air inlets and a diagonal bar on the rear bumper.
The start / stop button is hidden underneath a fighter jet like flap in the center console. Lift it up and press it with your foot on the brake and the V10 growls to life. The cockpit features a digital display where the analogue speedometer and rev counter used to be. It can display the navigation map, media and more. A cool bit of tech that gives the Huracan interior a very modern feel.
Our driving experience will take us deep into the desert away from the Palm and the overcrowded highways in downtown Dubai. But first we have to get off the Palm which is easier said than done with booming construction and speed bumps keeping our pace low. Accelerating on the slippery stones lights up the ESP light on the dash – no wonder with 580hp going straight to the rear wheels.
But in a Lamborghini things never get boring and time passes quickly even if it was only for the bystanders pointing and waving at our little Lamborghini convoy. Once off the Palm we merge onto Sheikh Zayed Road – the famous highway that transformed from desert road to city street over the course of three decades. Here our Lambo triggers interaction from the people around us again, an AMG powered CLS tricks us into a small rev battle as we cue at our exit.
Past the exit we head East away from Dubai’s busy metropolitan areas. There are less buildings and construction along the road we are driving so the traffic disappears. Time to let the famous Lamborghini bull out. I switch the little switch on the steering wheel from strada to corsa and accelerate away from the roundabout chasing our driving instructor in front. The V10 howls as the engine approaches the red line in fourth gear. Where the tires struggled for grip on the sand covered stones at the Palm Jumeirah the Pirelli P Zero tires now provide enough grip to put all the available horsepower and torque down on the tarmac.
The sun slowly starts to set below the impressive Dubai skyline in the distance. Only a few more miles until we reach our mid-way point; the nature reserve of Al Qudra. Here we swap the LP580-2 for the LP610-4 Spider. Normally I’m not a fan of convertibles – but driving a convertible Lamborghini is like an open-air theater on wheels. Everything becomes more dramatic and intense – firing up the V10 engine gives instant goosebumps. Leaving the parking lot at Al Qudra bystanders and surprisingly many cyclists directly talk to us in a range of different languages.
Back on the open road every gear change and burst of throttle is much more intense for both driver as passenger than in the hardtop version of the Huracan. The naturally aspirated engine has a high red line close to 9,000 rpm which gives a feel of never ending acceleration.
Our next stop before heading back to the Palm Jumeirah is a piece of desert where many Dubai locals come to cross with their dune buggies and SUVs. We will stay away from the sand with our precious Italian exotics but stop to take in the majestic sight of the mighty sand dunes.
With the darkness setting in it is time to head back to the Waldorf Astoria. We follow the two other Huracans in our group back to the hotel as their shape fades slowly until only their LEDs are visible.
The closer we get to the Palm the traffic and number of speed cameras increases. Before we left I wasn’t sure what to expect from a driving experience in Dubai but once we reached the desert we were able to stretch the Lambo’s legs more than I was expecting beforehand!
Back at the Waldorf we get out of the car with big smiles – we had a blast! However, where the driving experience for the other VIP guests has come to an end our program was not over yet. We have the opportunity to take the Lamborghinis to the hotel’s helipad for an exclusive photo shoot.
Shooting the four Lamborghini Huracans on the helipad directly next to the beach marks the end of our Waldorf Drive. It gave me the opportunity to try the two Huracan models that I hadn’t driven yet. The Spyder adds another dimension to the Huracan which I love. The rear-wheel drive behaves quite similar to the four-wheel drive Huracan with the ESP on with the only exception that the four-wheel Huracan puts the power down more easily also on surfaces with less traction. So it is a Huracan I would only consider when you plan to take it a lot on track.
Special thanks to Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah for the opportunity to take part in the Waldorf Drive! The ‘Waldorf Drive’ returns next year at selected Waldorf Astoria Hotels around the world. Selected HHonors Gold & Diamond members can sign up via the Waldorf Astoria website!