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Your chariot awaits

Complimentary cars are the latest perk at L.A.'s luxe hotels

Can an Audi A8L lure guests into the Hotel Bel-Air?

With Los Angeles in the midst of a boutique hotel renaissance, that’s the plan. The Bel-Air and other Mobil 5-star hotels have aligned themselves with luxury car companies in hopes that guests will want what the “hautels” can’t provide: a pimped ride.

“It’s another way to build brand loyalty,” says Gary Sain, chief marketing officer and partner in Orlando-based travel marketing communications firm YPBR. “If you walk away saying, ‘It was worth every penny,’ that’s the bottom line.”

Audi marketing director Stephen Berkov calls it “acupuncture” marketing. “We look for a hotel in tune with the pulse of influence and affluence.”

In turn, the hotels are hoping to drum up some influence of their own. The Roosevelt, Argyle and Avalon have become familiar boldfaces in the gossip columns. Competition will only become more fierce when a fully revamped Sofitel and Hotel Angeleno join their ranks by the end of May.

“L.A.’s tough,” says Jack Kyser, chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. “You have to work really hard to keep your crown.”

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Audis waiting for drivers outside the Hotel Bel-Air


Car: Audi A4, A8L
Hotel: Hotel Bel-Air, 701 Stone Canyon Rd.
(310) 472-1211
How long they’ve been together:
January
How you get one: Stay in the Presidential suite for $5,000/night (three-night minimum) (A8L) or a Grand Delux guestroom for $675/night (A4).
*What it would cost without hotel:
$799/day (A8L); $400/day (A4)
Notes: The A8L package comes with a limo transfer to/from the airport, dinner for eight at the chef’s table at Table One, two dinners for four in the hotel’s restaurant, in-room spa treatments, a bottle of Cristal and two free bathrobes; the A4 includes a tank of gas. An Audi rep says the promotion has led to car sales.

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Land Rovers take guests offroad at Quail Lodge


Car: Land Rover, Range Rover (upon request)
Hotel: Quail Lodge & Resort
8205 Valley Greens Dr.
Carmel
(831) 624-2888
How long they’ve been together: August 2005
How you get one: Sign up for a package, starting at $1,370 for two nights, including a two-hour driving lesson, two-hour trail ride and one lunch in the bistro (or a picnic basket); individual lessons run $200 per vehicle/hour; $300/two hours (up to three people in a car)
*What it would cost without hotel: $349/day, 50 free miles, ¢50 every mile after (Range Rover)
Notes: Expect to see random boulders, craters and wildlife along the way; the only other driving schools of its kind are in North Carolina and Canada.

Car: Lexus LS, SC retractable hardtop or hybrid
Hotel: The Peninsula Beverly Hills
9882 Santa Monica Blvd.
(310) 551-2888
How long they’ve been together: June 2004
How you get one: Book a suite for $1,000-$3,500 per night
*What it would cost without hotel: $400/day for the LS Sedan
Notes: All Lexus models include navigation system and satellite radio; airport transfer can be arranged via limo

*Rates based on Beverly Hills Rent-a-Car