The Mayflower Inn & Spa. Photo: Serge Detalle
It’s natural to want to test drive a car before buying, and now, thanks to the travel company Black Tomato and the Auberge Resorts Collection, those interested in a high-end Mercedes-Benz can do their very own test road trip. Through the new Take the Open Road with Auberge by Black Tomato collaboration, they are offering four multiday itineraries in the United States—two in California, one in Colorado and Utah, and one in New England—complete with your own luxury vehicle, stays at Auberge properties, and planned activities at each stop.
I’ve been stuck in my New York City apartment for the last few months, so I jump at the opportunity to do the New England road trip, which begins with the delivery of a G 550 SUV to my door. (Among the other options are the Maybach S 560 and the AMG S 63 Coupe.) At first glance, I’m concerned about trying to pilot the 5,500-pound beast, with its classically square safari-style lines, on the Big Apple’s narrow streets. The 9.5 inches of ground clearance do come in handy for going over potholes, though. The 4.0-liter biturbo V8 engine’s 416 horsepower, meanwhile, ensures that I have no trouble getting up to speed when I pull out of the city and onto the Hutchinson River Parkway.
After a couple of hours of rolling through the greenery of Westchester County and western Connecticut, I reach the charming town of Washington and the Mayflower Inn & Spa. In honor of the hotel’s centennial this year, Auberge had designer Celerie Kemble revamp its interiors, and I find myself feeling insufficiently stylish for my surroundings. So I take advantage of a bespoke private shopping trip to Plain Goods, a beloved shop in New Preston, where I pick up a linen scarf and a pair of white Sperry sneakers. (When in Connecticut…)
After an evening by the fire and a morning archery session (William Tell, I am not), I hit the road again. Soon, I’m crossing the Claiborne Pell Bridge over sailboat-dotted Narragansett Bay and cruising into Newport, Rhode Island. I leave the G 550 with the valet at The Vanderbilt, a 33-room and -suite hotel in a mansion built by Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt in 1909. I tickle the keys on the baby grand piano in my suite and then depart for a sail on an America’s Cup–winning racing ship, making it back to the hotel just in time to sip a glass of Moët & Chandon while I watch the sunset over the marina from The Roof Deck bar.
I start the morning with a hike on Newport’s famous Cliff Walk—historic mansions on one side, the ocean on the other—before heading up to Maine. The staff at The Vanderbilt packs a picnic lunch for me, and I stop in the town of York and eat my lobster roll and Caesar salad with a view of the iconic Nubble Lighthouse. Just a few more miles up the road, I pull into Kennebunk and the 27-room White Barn Inn. I really treat myself here: One night there’s an old-fashioned lobster bake, the next a dinner at the fantastic White Barn Inn Restaurant, where I have a lobster roll with caviar and truffles and housemade tagliatelle with lobster. (I sure did consider the lobster this weekend.)
In spite of all this high life, at heart I’m a simple man, so I wake up early on the final morning of the trip and walk the 10 minutes to Gooch’s Beach to watch the sun rise from the Atlantic. I’ve missed that sun. And the salty sea air. And the open road.
Packages from $5,890 per person, including seven nights’ accommodation, daily breakfast, vehicle loan, and experiences.