There’s nothing as fun or confidence-building as driving off road. Learning to command tons of precision-built machinery over unforgiving and unpredictable ground will make you believe you can conquer anything.
I learned this driving off road in more than three dozen countries around the globe, attending Land Rover events and expeditions and testing the Land Rover fleet. But anyone can master these skills by attending one of the British icon’s driving schools.
Land Rover developed its love for “motoring off-the-road” over decades of developing vehicles for exploring unsettled and unpaved parts of the world. And, they want you to love off-roading as well. The upscale British automaker has also developed a quartet of Land Rover Experience driving schools; three are in the U.S. and one is in Canada.
The school showcases Land Rover’s purpose-built vehicles that range from compact to full-sized SUVs and skilled driving trainers, all set in fashionable and elegant locations that this high-class marque has selected for its driving schools: each is renowned and an ideal location for a short or longer getaway.
Land Rover’s training site on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate: Lonely Planet’s No. 1 Destination for 2017
Located in trendy Asheville, North Carolina, the Land Rover training site is situated in a swath of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where the Biltmore Estate is set on over eleven square miles of mostly untouched land. The scenery enhances the test course, where you’ll find a collection of off-road trails that range from easy to more technical with steep side tilts, significant downhill grades, and tracks that will enhance your skill level and illustrate the traction capabilities and wheel articulation of the different model Land Rover vehicles.
You can choose a shorter or longer driving lesson (see below) and add a tour of the Biltmore Estate to your trip. The Châteauesque-styled mansion, built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895, is the largest privately-owned house in the U.S.; still owned by Vanderbilt’s descendants, it is one of the most prominent remaining examples of the Gilded Age. There are a plethora of places to stay in the local area, including the Inn on Biltmore Estate on the Biltmore Estate grounds.
Tackle the Land Rover Green Mountains training site in all kinds of weather
Nestled into the Green Mountains, Land Rover’s driving school in southern Vermont is associated with the magnificent Equinox Hotel in Manchester Village, and features off-road driving instruction in all conditions, including motoring in snow. There are numerous challenges on the 80-acre purpose-built course that has an extensive trail system where you will learn techniques for ascents, descents, side tilts and learn how to drive over rocky terrain. The degree of difficulty is matched to the driver’s skill: more advanced drivers are invited to explore a more expansive trails’ network in the stunning mountainous region.
Off the course, The Equinox, a Luxury Collection Golf Resort & Spa, is a perfect destination for picturesque escapes year-round, while Manchester is a celebrated shopping mecca and the jumping-off point for a number of outdoor activities.
Along California’s Northern Central Coast, the Quail Village Lodge & Golf Club has a little bit of everything
Land Rover’s facility at Quail Village is located along California’s northern central coast, in the quail hunting capital of the world and the site of motorsports and collector car gatherings. Situated in Carmel, California, on a top-rated golf course surrounded by fields and lakes, Quail Lodge & Golf Club boasts a wide array of amenities while the driving school provides year-round customized lessons and adventure for all skill levels. The two-track trail system has steep descents, climbs over piles of logs and the challenge of navigating tight hairpin turns, with lessons that range from one hour to multiple days.
Land Rover’s driving retreat in Canada is located at the Fairmont Le Château Montebello, the world’s largest log cabin
At the heart of the scenic Montebello village, the Fairmont Le Château Montebello resort is surrounded by nature. The hotel is famed for its rustic-yet-luxurious accommodations, top-notch service and delightful gastronomy. Founded as a private club in 1930, Le Château Montebello has hosted many political figures, royalty and other celebrities and offers golf, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, curling, tennis, squash and other activities. The driving course is on trails carved out of a special 65,000 acres of land that was once part of the Fairmont property and is a veritable playground for 4 x 4s.
Land Rover Experience Driving School: Programs and Protocol
Lessons (Required before booking Trails)
The Lesson courses introduce you to off-road elements and terrain and, for those with some experience, increase off-road knowledge and ability. Lessons cover the basics of expedition-style driving and are customized to fit your skill and comfort level. Off-road obstacles include steep ascents, descents, side tilts, log crossings, and rock crawls. Duration: One-Hour or Two-Hour lessons for up to three persons. Cost One-Hour $275/vehicle, Two-Hour $425/vehicle.
Following the Lesson’s course, you can try your new skills on more difficult terrain. Trails will increase your skill level and introduce more advanced driving techniques. Activities can be customized to cover specific techniques, such as winching, expedition planning, and navigation. Duration: 2 hours for up to three drivers. Cost: $425/vehicle.
Full Day Experience
The Full-Day Experience provides the most flexible and individualized adventure for first timers or those wanting to improve skills. You will begin with instruction on terrain that traverses ditch crossings, log crossings, side tilts, and learn about vehicle controls, while gradually moving to more advanced trails with steep hill climbs, rocky descents, and rugged traverses. This package includes a picnic lunch and two Land Rover Experience Driving School gifts, along with a framed certification of completion. Duration: 6 hours for up to three drivers. Cost: $1,200/vehicle
Land Rover Adventure Course
Expert drivers give you a flavor of what is like to adventure in a Land Rover. You will traverse broken bridges, climb large boulders and rocks, and go on a ‘sideways adventure,’ tackling hills at new angles. Cost: $25/person.
Land Rover Kids Adventure Course
Experience a Land Rover Kids’ vehicle on a thrilling purpose-built course made just for kids. All vehicles have limited speeds, are accompanied by a qualified instructor, and include instant remote cutoff switches. Walking pace speed. Duration: 30 minutes. Parents may view from the course or a nearby waiting area. Children ages 4-8, $30/child.
What You Need To Know
Driving School programs availability and contents, duration and costs may vary by location. Age, valid driver’s license and insurance requirements apply. A release form will need to be signed.
Advance reservations are required. Contact each location directly for the programs and details for that location or you can get more information and schedule your adventure through a Land Rover Adventures Concierge at: http://www.landroverusa.com/driving-schools-kmi.html
What’s it like? Holly took her Aunt Mimi off road, and they had a blast
Locations in North America
Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC
Web site: http://www.biltmore.com/visit/things-to-do/outdoor-activities/land-rover
To Schedule: call 828-225-1541.
Equinox Resort, Manchester Village, VT
Web site: http://www.equinoxresort.com/en/land-rover-driving-experience-school
To Schedule: call 802-362-0687 or email [email protected]
Quail Village, Carmel, California
Web site: https://www.quaillodge.com/activities/land-rover-driving-school
To Schedule: call 831.620.8854 or email [email protected]
Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello, Montebello, Quebec, Canada
Web site: http://www.fairmont.com/montebello/
To Schedule: call +1-819-423-3038
Land Rover Driver Experience programs are also available around the world. Opportunities for driving and adventure take place in several countries and different geographies. For more information go here.