By Chuck Mai, AAA
With transportation options ranging from rooftop helipads to rare vintage cars and bespoke Rolls-Royce Phantoms, the AAA Five Diamond-rated Peninsula hotels have long been the exclusive enclave of tycoons, movie stars, royalty and glamorous multi-hyphenates of all kinds. Innovative and luxurious transportation has long been part of the Peninsula signature experience.
But lately, even the ultra-rich have been struggling. Now they may have to choose between a private submarine and a space hotel. Yes, they still light their cigars with twenty dollars bills, only now they’re using Canadian money.
And even if you’re still living large, it may no longer be socially responsible to look quite so flush. So what is your average out-of-town oligarch supposed to do when they require more austere transportation?
The Peninsula New York and the Peninsula Chicago hotels recently unveiled two customized Mini Cooper S Clubman vehicles. Offered as a complimentary amenity to suite guests, the chauffeur-driven Minis are a rare opportunity for well-heeled guests to feel almost like the rest of us.
Of course these are not your run-of-the-mill Minis. The Peninsula collaborated with BMW to create a custom-made bespoke Mini Cooper S Clubman, with the personalization process taking more than two years to perfect. Bespoke, for those of you without your own personal shopper, is a fancy British term for hand-tailored men’s wear, somewhat analogous to women’s haute couture. A made-to-measure suit from London’s Savile Row for example, requires multiple fittings, up to 50 hours of labor, and can set you back as much as $18,000.
Lately, the meaning has been expanded to include hand-crafted timepieces, furniture and even fragrances. Who wouldn’t gladly fork over $80,000 for a custom-made scent that “recalls the smells of your childhood”?
Devotees of the $150,000 Brough Superior motorcycle have included such luminaries as Lawrence of Arabia. Each one is custom-built to suit the weight, size and riding style of the buyer.
You can even order a bespoke automobile, the Bristol Type 603, a vehicle so exclusive you can only buy one by invitation. It should be pointed out that the Bristol’s Chrysler engine and transmission are decidedly not “bespoken.”
The Mini’s dedicated features include a custom-illuminated Peninsula logo on door entry sills, leather finishing to match the existing Rolls-Royce interiors, and the signature Peninsula Green color that adorns every vehicle in the hotel’s transportation fleet. Each car is also specially fitted with a tailor-made rooftop box providing extra cargo space with a mini-fridge offering complimentary refreshments.
The Peninsula hotels have a long history of providing stylish rides for their guests, including the Hong Kong property’s legendary fleet of 14 Rolls-Royce Phantoms and four 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II’s belonging to the Peninsula hotels in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai and Paris, all finished in signature Peninsula green.
In case you’re interested, AAA’s Diamond ratings are the only ratings system that covers all of North America and one of only two that conducts physical, on-site evaluations. Full-time, professionally-trained evaluators inspect each property on an annual basis using a set of guidelines that are made available to all establishments. Five Diamond Award winners are a very select group. This year, just 124 lodgings and 55 restaurants (0.3 percent of the total 59,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated lodgings and restaurants across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean) received this prestigious designation.
Oklahoma has no AAA rated Five Diamond hotels but the state has five Four Diamond rated hotels and two Four Diamond rated restaurants. You may access detailed listings of all of AAA’s Diamond rated hotels and restaurants by visiting AAA.com. This information is available to AAA members and nonmembers alike.