Gentle gusts of wind greeted arriving race enthusiasts one summer morning at Le Mans, France. “The sun’s baring its blazing body, but it still feels like a pleasant spring day,” exclaimed a fellow campmate after stepping out of his tent.
Le Mans, the former capital of Maine, is a city that’s relaxed for most days a year except June, where 24 Hours of Le Mans transpires. As the world’s oldest active sports car endurance race, it eclipses other attractions in the area and dominates the lead search page on Google upon a ‘Le Mans’ enquiry. No wonder it’s a Mecca for most automotive racing fanatics.
It’s a tradition for attendees of 24 Hours of Le Mans to set up camp close to the circuit. From conventional canvas and tarp portable shelters to caravans, these temporary homes sprout rapidly on appropriate sites days before the race commences. Our trackside tentage conforms with our neighbours’, but there are secrets hidden inside its nondescript exterior. Here’s one—it’s huge enough to fit a premium queen-sized bed outfitted in signature Waldorf Astoria deluxe bedding. Yes, no sleeping bags!
Luxury hotel brand Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and British automobile manufacturer Aston Martin Lagonda joined forces to provide an exclusive glamping experience. A result of their four-year global partnership which started in December 2018, this is their first dual-branded activation and Waldorf Astoria’s inaugural glamping project.
The collaboration aims to create unforgettable opportunities by combining exceptional standards of sophistication and the reputable service of both heritage brands. Think rare guest access to Aston Martin’s most recent cars and bespoke drives while staying in some of the most sought-after destinations in Waldorf Astoria’s portfolio. In addition, Waldorf Astoria is the official hotel partner for Aston Martin Racing. Thus, specific curated stay packages will provide privileged access to premium automotive events including the recent Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California and other leading international auto shows.
Back at the glamping site, guests gather in the Hospitality Barn for a welcome champagne reception and barbecue dinner hosted by the automotive brand on the night before the race begins.
We dine on delectable proteins and tasty greens prepared from fresh produce by Michelin-starred chef Daniel Galmiche. The feast seems like a prolonged affair as daylight lasts for hours into the night. Of course, summer sunsets are tardy in Europe.
Sleep summons the body to bed once darkness settles completely into the sky. The only light source to lead us back to the tents from the Barn is fairy lights (with the moon and stars as faraway guides) like a magical route to a hidden sanctuary.
You’re mistaken if you think glamping loses the principles of camping after adding luxury elements. Guests still experience core aspects such as communal bath facilities (how is an en-suite bathroom even possible with a tent?), limited access to power sources and insect surprises. But, this being Waldorf Astoria, our tent came with the goods: plush monogrammed robes and slippers, cable-knit throw blankets (a raved item among guests) and functional mobile furniture. As for the campsite bathroom facilities, heated showers were available (a lifesaver) along with spacious vanity areas and splendid full-sized Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries.
A few hours before the race’s flag off, guests depart for the Aston Martin Racing (AMR) VIP Hospitality lodge where racing action can be witnessed both trackside and indoors via televised live broadcast while resting on custom-designed Waldorf Astoria beanbag chairs. Those craving for a closer and detailed perspective made a beeline to sign up for garage and helicopter tours during the race. You know you’re truly a VIP from the unlimited pitstop visits and unrestricted access to the grandstand deck.
Famished and drained from keeping up with the speed demons? We don’t go hungry as AMR lodge’s kitchen churns out Western classics, keeping us well-fed. A well-stocked liquor stash and Waldorf Astoria’s cocktail-inspired popsicles maintain the jolly spirits too. Tired bodies who stayed awake throughout the race recharge with complimentary massages skillfully executed by Waldorf Astoria’s health specialists at both the campground and AMR lodge.
Through such collaborative partnerships, guests are able to kill two birds with one stone—that is, experiencing glamping as well as one of the world’s most prestigious automobile races. Waldorf Astoria’s Live Unforgettable mantra has indeed lived up to its name.
Pining for your own unique adventure? Look out for upcoming activations like the Waldorf Astoria Driving Experience weekends, which presents guests with a variety of Aston Martin’s latest models to test drive along carefully tailored routes. Separately, the Art of Living by Aston Martin programme offers one-of-a-kind packages, four of which will be hosted at Waldorf Astoria properties in destinations across the globe this year. Start your engines. Let the lap of luxury begin.
For more information, call 1-800-925-3673 or visit Waldorf Astoria's website