Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
It was a beautiful fall day when I arrived to San Francisco (SFO) from Washington Dulles Airport (IAD) on a direct United Airlines flight to spend a few enticing days in Napa Valley’s wine country. Mental and spiritual escapes from the daily rigors of work are a must for the continuation of positive “quality of lives.” The two-hour drive behind the wheel of BMW’s all-new 2015 4 Series Gran Coupe from SFO to the quaint and charming town of Yountville, CA — which is settled in the North Bay portion of the San Francisco Bay Area — was as refreshing and enchanting as waterfalls in Maui, Hawaii.
The mind is driven by thoughts and fueled by inventive answers…
BMW continues to manifest solutions for the increasing demands of their diverse automotive enthusiasts ranging from athletes, family and parents to commuting, career warriors. Whether vehicle ownership has been upgraded to the role of transporting you to and from work or viewed as a chariot with meaning far greater than just an automobile, BMW ascertains the experience is comfortable, technologically applied and above all things, unforgettable. The German automaker’s vehicles are soul soothers, ego boosters and performance sleds instilled with so much tech wizardry you begin to feel like a Silicon Valley innovator. Open the doors to any Bimmer and stand back in awe.
The future belongs to those who tackle things with spirit and courage.” – Dr. Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG…
The idyllic escape to my temporary residence in Yountville at the opulent and eco-friendly Bardessono Hotel & Spa was pure bliss. I arrived with a few hours to spare before joining friends for dinner at The French Laundry. Rightfully so I checked into the luxury property and settled into my glamorous suite for a few moments before heading out to hike and run with fellow Fit Fathers. The three-mile journey up to view the landscape put me in a transcendental state for the remainder of the trip. Downhill was a full on sprint which kept my endorphins flowing throughout dinner. The most exciting element was transferring most of that euphoria into the Gran Coupe since we had to drive the snaking, mountain roads back in order to make it in time for a Swedish massage. BMW TwinPower Turbo Technology along with the ability to customize the vehicle’s behavior by way of Driving Dynamics Control (ECO PRO, COMFORT, SPORT and SPORT+) ascertains an authentic German experience replete with firm steering, intuitive suspension and impressive acceleration. Especially when driving on curvaceous roads you can feel a vehicle’s discomfort and uneasiness, but the 4 Series was settled the entire drive.
It takes courage and passion to make a dream come true…
Youngstown is small, only a mile long, but full of passion to fuel the imagination and touch the senses. My wife loves the beauty, allure and artsy feel of the town. We have visited on several occasions looking for a reason to escape the conventional. As we did, plan to keep your day busy with wine tastings on two wheels or walking to either Hill Family Estate, Jessup Cellars, Cornerstone Cellars, Hestan Vineyards, Priest Ranch, Girard Winery or Quintessa Winery. You can also channel your creative edge and visit the Arts Center at Lincoln Theater, Gordon Gallery or the Napa Valley Museum, a wonderful foundation to learn about Napa Valley’s history. I love cycling in addition to running and wanted to enjoy a ride with Napa Valley Bike Tours, but couldn’t find the time. Their “Ride, Wine and Dine” tour is very popular and allows travelers and residents to choose from over 40 vineyards within a 5-mile radius. Yet, I did find time to relish an in-room massage from a Bardessono therapist. It’s amazing how they convert your posh suite into a sanctuary of aromas with mystique, naturalistic music playing in the background. Partly energized by rooftop solar panels, Bardessono’s spacious sleeping quarters feature gas fireplaces, tiled walls and floors, organic cotton bed linens, bathrooms half the size of the room, large privacy patios with outdoor showers and hot tubes, 40” high-definition screens and an embedded living room with sofas and furniture. The art deco, architecturally themed hotel is enhanced with a rooftop pool overlooking mountain panoramas, a chic restaurant and cocktail bar, loaner bikes and yoga classes. To keep it fresh and whole chefs prepare foods from produce grown locally in the hotel garden, suitable for my plant-based lifestyle.
How to take a chance on something completely new…
BMW is not afraid of the future. They study the marketplace and develop automotive products based on their assessments. SUVS and wagons are not for everyone. How about a four-door coupe with a hatch for those looking for a sports sedan with the freedom of supplementary utility to stimulate active lifestyles? Welcome the all-new 4 Series Gran Coupe, the consummate vehicle that adds a fresh aspect to a bevy of well-respected BMW models. Commingling the jazzy lines and silhouette of the 4 Series Coupe with the flexibility of SUV-like characteristics, the $40,300 (starting price) newbie can be had as a Sport, Luxury or M Sport. My vision is laying down the second row and throwing a mountain bike in the back. Power emanates from either the TwinPower Turbo (twin scroll) 2-liter 4-cylinder in the 240-horsepower and 255 ft-lb of torque 428i Gran Coupe or the 435i Gran Coupe’s TwinPower Turbo (twin scroll) 3-liter inline six with 300-horsepower and 300 ft-lb of torque. In each BMW vehicle I’ve driven over time with the 3-liter, spirited driving with loads of pull has always been the defining staple. Moreover, the 8-speed sport Steptronic automatic transmission is an ideal choice for quick shifts, fuel efficiency and torque control.
“The interior of the four-door coupe unifies the seemingly contradictory character of a dynamic two-door coupe with the elegance and utility of a BMW sedan or a BMW Gran Turismo,” stated Tim Shih, interior designer responsible for the new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. This is true. Sometimes you don’t have to totally re-invent the wheel. Incorporating BMW’s intelligence from iDrive, Advanced Real Time Traffic Information, ConnectedDrive, Head-Up Display, Active Blind Spot Detection and Lane Departure Warning, the 4 Series Gran Coupe offers a range of advanced telematics, preemptive safety technology, digital entertainment and 3D navigational features to enhance reams of driver information. With BMW’s bevy of apps and technology partners, iDrive is just as intuitive as your smartphone or computer and helped me substantially getting around the Valley.
Imagination moves us, but reality accelerates us…
A visit to Napa wouldn’t be fulfilled without dining at The French Laundry, a well-respected establishment in Yountville. Foodies, culinary aficionados and those in search of brilliant, French Cuisine will enjoy Chef Thomas Keller’s refined fixed-price meals ($295 including gratuity and service). The pastoral, stone homestead dates back to 1900 and is the recipient of copious awards and accolades including a 3-star Michelin Guide rating for six continuous years. I dined in the private room with a group of BMW aristocrats and collectively outlasted four hours of unique courses. The two 9-course menus — chef’s tasting menu and vegetable tasting menu — change daily and each ingredient never repeats itself in another dish. With palate pleasures such as the Salad of Winter Chicories, comprising Sierra beauty apples, French pumpkin, chestnut purée, toasted pumpkin seeds and aged balsamic vinegar, The French Laundry is guaranteed to appease all appetites. On the East Coast Thomas Keller fans can make reservations at his sister property Per Se in the Time Warner Center. Utilizing technology as imaginative as iDrive, amazingly both kitchens are linked up seamlessly through live video feeds.
A whole new dimension of sheer driving pleasure…
The wit and intelligence of the 428i xDrive Gran Coupe — driven by BMW’s intelligent all-wheel drive system – ascertains that your journey will be limited by impediments from inclement weather or adventures roads. The safety and performance technology adds much more confidence from the driver’s position, especially in the rain. No longer do you have to park your Gran Coupe during East Coast or Midwest winters. Though, I would suggest replacing any summer or all-seasons tires with winter or snow rubber for optimal benefits. Moreover, AWD sports cars are some of the best in the business. For example, the 650i xDrive runs 0 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds while the 650i hits it in 4.5 seconds.
The future starts now…
So how will you arrive when it presents itself? I have an estimated guess and it begins and ends with three letters!
2015 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe
The French Laundry by Chef Thomas Keller
Bardessono Hotel & Spa
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