Twenty minutes after my arrival, my instructor said “now put it in drive and steer straight ahead.” I replied, using my best John McEnroe, “You cannot be serious!”
If you’ve ever wondered what it would really be like to take a very new (and very expensive) Range Rover up, down, over and through a very challenging off-road training course, take the Land Rover Experience. It’s a trip you won’t forget. It will make you a much better driver both on and off road. And it will show you in no uncertain terms why Land Rover lays claim to “The Best 4x4xFar” moniker.
I can say with confidence the Experience course provides some of the most challenging off-road course terrain we've seen. My driving partner (Chris Bartow) and I, met some of the men who devised it. Working closely with an internal design and build team with Camel Trophy experience, Josh Williams and his team at The Equinox resort in Manchester, Vermont, transformed an 80-acre plot of nature into five miles of trails that simultaneously frighten and delight you.
We drove up hills so steep all you could see was sky through the windshield. Down descents so sharp and abrupt all you could see was the relatively flat land beckoning you to safety a hundred yards hence. Over big, bulky boulders. Forded streams and standing water. And on to carefully constructed side berms and rocky crawls where we seemed to nearly defy the laws of gravity!
Rick Serraro, our instructor for the day, instilled a great deal of confidence in us, calmly putting us through our paces at each stage of the course, and son-of-a-gun — we came through it without a scratch to ourselves or the Range Rover.
The beauty of “The Experience” is that it takes place in some of the most beautiful locations on the continent. Down South, in Asheville, North Carolina, it’s at the 250-room chateau known as the Biltmore Estate. There’s an on-premises winery, the famed Frederick Law Olmstead gardens, and a priceless collection of antiques and works of art. You can explore the 8,000 acre estate on mountain bike, horseback or, of course, from behind the wheel of a Range Rover, and settle in to the Inn on Biltmore Estate at trail’s end.
Out West, there’s the Quail Lodge, an 850-acre estate on the deliriously beautiful Carmel coast of California. There’s championship golf, exquisite dining, and other thrilling diversions like driving descending a technical coastal mountain pitch in a Land Rover.
A ways up North, perched along a scenic river in the heart of Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains, there’s the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello. Yes, it is the world’s largest log hotel, but it’s much more luxurious than it is rustic. They’re surrounded by 65,000 acres of unspoiled nature, where avoiding the occasional moose may be part of your Land Rover “experience”.
Finally, there’s the school we've frequented and enjoy here at Atlantic British, at the Equinox Resort in Southern Vermont’s Green Mountains in Manchester. World-class fly fishing, outlet shopping, golf…there’s even a school of Falconry, if you’re so inclined. A registered historic landmark, the resort stands majestically amidst 1,300 acres of gorgeous New England countryside, famous for “leaf peeping” in the Fall but beautiful year-round.
See the right column for contact information on all school locations.
Another beautiful part of “The Experience” is that it doesn’t involve a lot of boring classroom instruction. This is experiential learning, where you’ll be out in the thick of it within 15-20 minutes of your arrival. You can go for a one or two hour lesson, a full day or a two-day adventure. You can just go for a trail ride and let the certified instructor do the driving, explaining features and techniques along the way, or you can get into winch and recovery techniques or weather-specific tactics and strategies like Winter driving (depending on location.). It’s a great thing to do in bad weather, as they’re quick to tell you that “the worse the weather, the better the experience!”
Or…you can get really creative. Bring your friends for a group lesson and share an experience you’ll be talking about for years. Book a custom team building program and get your office mates out on the trail for some serious team building events. Or book an offroad challenge Geo Cache Scavenger Hunt where everyone learns how to use a GPS to locate hidden clues along the course.
Most of us here at Atlantic British are exhaustively familiar with these vehicles and still, there was plenty for us to learn about their actual, real-off-road condition and capability. Whether you’re a novice, an off-road driving enthusiast or just a thrill-seeker looking to try something new and different, the Land Rover Experience is one trip that will stay with you long after you leave the trail.
What They Do: Highly experienced offroad instructors show and explain how to maneuver the latest model Land Rovers through a variety of challenging – and stimulating – trails and terrain.
What You'll Learn: From curious novice to seasoned adventurer, the experience gets you out and driving (not sitting in a classroom!) on an offroad training course that provides a variety of challenging terrain. You will learn a bevy of specialized driving techniques to enhance your understanding and capabilities off-road.
Choose Your Training: One or two hour lessons; full-day adventures focusing on off-road techniques, winching and recovery and other advanced off-road techniques. Two-day customized training and Winter trail training available in season (depending on location). Corporate custom team building exercises that are fun and educational can also be arranged.
Choose Your Location: Land Rover Experience schools are located in the West, South and Northeast, with a fourth in Canada. All in spectacularly beautiful resort locales and all with their own variety of challenging off-road terrain.
For More Information:
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Land Rover Experience Driving Schools:
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