Here at Lusso we love to travel and we’re also rather fond of a good old road trip. The tried and tested formula of mixing a few of Italy’s finest and adding a preposterously impractical, but suitably rapid support vehicle has served us admirably thus far. Feeling suitably ambitious and ready for our next logical globe trotting step, we decided it was, ahem, high time to get airborne.
Lusso’s new wings is a Mooney M20K 231, and not willing to break with tradition, it’s one of the fastest single engine piston propeller planes in production, the ‘231’ being its maximum speed in miles per hour. With 210 horsepower and the ability to climb to 24,000 feet, double that of most other planes in its class, some might say it a little too advanced for beginners. But here at Lusso we’re very much in favour of ‘balls to the wall’ travel and our publisher, who purchased and will be flying our new toy, has quite the appetite for maximum velocity.
Having found a location that combined an airport a race track and extremely fine hotel, Lusso Airways set about its first cross channel excursion.
Hotel Du Castellet sits isolated atop a mountain with stunning views down to the Mediterranean Sea. With a spa, pool, tennis courts and a golf course dotted with pretty pines, it provides a beautifully serene retreat that’s in stark contrast to a potentially intense day of competitive motor racing at the Paul Ricard circuit it’s situated next to.
Master of cuisine, Christophe Bacquié, heads up the hotel’s main restaurant Monti Cristo where we were treated to an absolute delight of delicious flavours and a technically outstanding menu. Each course accompanied by a perfectly judged glass of the grape. The hotel also has a light, airy Bistro which provides a less formal atmosphere but equally high culinary standards and a lovely view of the grounds through it’s large glass walls.
Our villa rooms were tastefully appointed with generous balconies for those early morning coffees, private sun worship and the obligatory pre supper cocktails. Apparently I had F1 champ, Nigel Mansell’s room.
The Paul Ricard Circuit was built in 1969 and was host to Formula 1’s French grand prix between 1971 and 1990. Following the death of Paul Ricard, the circuit was sold to Bernie Ecclestone and is now one of the safest circuits in the world. With its exceptional facilities and conveniently placed right next to the airport, it’s now used as a test track by motor racing teams from all over the world.
The circuit also has a fantastic karting track where one can get back to basics and brush up on the essentials with its mixture of high speed and technically challenging corners, plus a decent size straight with which to test your late braking skills.