When I first heard that Tesla and Crowne Plaza had teamed up for an event, I was a little confused. Although I’d never previously driven a Tesla or stayed in a Crowne Plaza, I assumed they would have very little in common. But like most assumptions, I try and push them aside, have a chat, and see what’s what. In this case, the ‘what’ was in fact, a kilowatt. Thousands of them. Crowne Plaza have just rolled Tesla destination chargers at 13 of their hotels throughout NSW, VIC, ACT, WA, QLD and New Zealand. The theme for the road trip was ‘recharge ‘, a process that when we apply daily to our devices, but seldom ourselves (profound, I know).
We kicked off the trip at the Crowne Plaza in Coogee. A hotel I’d usually associated with visiting rugby teams, was refreshingly scattered with some of the most innovative cars on the planet (and thanks to Space X, the solar system). The views of the beach were the perfect backdrop while dividing my attention between fruit platters and spec sheets. My first Tesla allocation was none other than the Model S P100D. A dual motor luxury sedan capable of doing 0 – 100 km/h in 2.7 seconds and embarrassing an army of boy racers the world over. Driving the model S through Sydney was hard to fault. The air suspension was supple, 17 inch touchscreen was remarkable and the ride was so quiet, you could crank Spotify through those 11 speakers with virtually no background noise.
With the city behind us, our lunchtime recharge was hosted by the team at Crowne Plaza Hawkesbury Valley. The charging station was easy to spot and even easier to connect. I was more than happy staying inside the Tesla, but when shoulder massages and locally roasted coffee are on offer, sometimes you just have to push through. The hotel had a cottage/country club aesthetic which seemed well equipped to host weddings, high teas, golf trips, corporate functions and relaxing getaways. We had a quick tour of the award-winning spa, Villa Thalgo, and after reading the treatments on offer, I started to wonder if anyone would notice my absence.
The afternoon session meant a driver change and a loss of Spotify control. Shania Twain was the poison of choice from the new pilot, Simone, and Tesla’s head of Marketing, Heath, decided to come along for the rodeo. Being a passenger in a Tesla is, dare I say it, nearly as fun as driving. The amount of controls and visual wizardry in that 17 inch touchscreen was very entertaining. And with Heath explaining the growing sprawl of electric charge stations throughout Australia, it was easy to see why I’d been noticing more of the electric sensations on the road. The drive to the hunter was beautiful, the playlist was painfully gratifying and the model S proved its worth as a road trip steed.
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley was a grand establishment to say the least. The hotel features over 400 rooms, Golf Course, Spa, and Arcade Room, and it only seemed appropriate that our tour was provided via Helicopter. With our Tesla’s charging away in the Crownetropolis below, our pilot displayed the vast spread of vineyards throughout the Hunter region and subsequently I quickly realised how many wines I hadn’t sampled. Keeping with the aerial theme, the next morning’s adventures started with a hot air balloon ride over a waking Hunter Valley. As our pilot skilfully dropped us within metres of the vineyards, I developed a new appreciation for basket-based transport.
Our first drive of day two was a quick zip up the road to one of InterContinental Hotels Group’s more recent partnerships, Kirkton Park. We were greeted with big smiles, lawn activities and some house made lemonade that could start a war. The food and wine was the highlight of the trip and with most of the menu being pulled straight from their garden, it was easy to see why. The rooms were a nice blend of country charm fused with blue European features and while most hotels look a little sad in drought, Kirkton Park seemed to slow dance with the rural landscape.
The troops were quickly rounded up and I was given a new car and a new passenger. The new car was the model X, and the new audio victim was Tesla’s own, Emily. As we set the nav to Crowne Plaza Terrigal, I started to familiarise myself with the cabin. The glass panoramic windshield was massive, the cabin was huge (our model was configured with 6 seats) and the falcon wing doors were as practical as they were striking. On the road, the Model X was equally notable. All-wheel drive and a 100kWh battery provided ample spark for the SUV and with a 0 – 100 time of 3.1 seconds, the acceleration became intoxicating. Unfortunately the lack of sleep from the early morning balloon ride caught up with us and it was indeed time for everything to.. wait for it.. recharge.
Crowne Plaza Terrigal was indeed the restoration we needed. With beach swims at your doorstep and a labyrinth of gastronomy, everyone appeared to be gliding around the hotel in a happy daze. Our final dinner was hosted in a floor to ceiling glass atrium, commonly known as Seasalt restaurant. InterContinental Hotels Group’s Chris Waite used the occasion to announce Crown Plaza’s return to Adelaide in what will be the city’s tallest building and I sincerely accepted a tongue in cheek invitation to meet him down there in 2020 (cheers Chris). One final round of celebratory drinks was had and everyone agreed to meet in the morning for some farewell beach yoga.
It was no surprise that I was one of only three that turned up to face the mindfulness music. But after a few sun salutations and a quick swim it was time to load the cars and abuse the no shows.
As Marty once said to Rust “Let’s make the car a place of silent reflection “and the drive back to Sydney was just that. I reflected upon the amount of technology inside my Tesla, the great staff I’d met to make us feel welcome at every turn, the inevitable herd of Model 3’s id see in the coming years and the pragmatic approach Crowne Plaza were taking to reach their sustainability goals. The popularity of Tesla is only going to grow exponentially and if it means that those special combustion engines I love get to hang around a bit longer as a result, then it’s a win/win for everyone. Of course, it takes forward-thinking collaboration to bring these projects to fruition and if Tesla and Crowne Plaza keep recharging their respective clients, it will be one hell of an electric boogaloo.