Friday, November 20, 2009

AMG Driving Academy Stage 1 SLS -- part 1

First of all, I would like to take everything negative back I said about signing up for the SLS AMG event. I only have one thing to say about the event I just experienced (and took two days off for): amazing, absolutely amazing.  Although $2,200 is a lot of money to spend for a 1-day driving program, the amount of money AMG put into the program easily surpassed the fee that each of us paid.

Because the SLS program sets us up for one night at the Intercontinental Monterey, I made the most out of it.  My girlfriend and I both took Monday and Tuesday off and drove down to hang out at Carmel.  Every time I visited Carmel, there was always one store I had to visit: Lussori on Ocean Ave.  They had a custom made Glashütte watch made specifically for the store on sale for a discounted price of $11,000 (list price of $21,000).  The watch was a gorgeous Rolex like style watch with a gold base and deep blue dial.  They only had 15 made and the watch I was staring down lucky #8.

After stressing myself out for about 2-3 hours trying to figure out if it was financially smart for me to purchase that watch (the answer is always no).  I decided to head back to the hotel to rest before dinner.  Needless to say, it was very hard for me to not buy that watch.  Sometimes, I just wished I had more disposable income.

I finally saw the Mercedes-AMG SLS in person for the first time as I pulled up to the hotel.  Not a bad car, much more beautiful and elegant in person than over pictures.

Dinner started out with a reception in the atrium of the hotel overlooking the Monterey Bay.  They were serving the guests Twomey and Jordan wines.  I was very impressed since they were not the cheapest wine.  I noticed a good portion of the guests knew each other as they have attended similar AMG sponsored events and were trading old war stories from those prior events.  I did get to meet quite a few of these guests, couple Wall Street bankers, some oil baron, senior executives and vice presidents of pharmaceutical and tech companies.  Around thirty of us in total.  Overall, a very impressive crowd.

Because this event was specific to the Private Lounge, everyone here were current AMG owners. I made myself comfortable for the presentation that was to come welcoming us and introducing us to the new Mercedes - AMG super car.  Being someone with no old friends at the event, I chose to sit during our dinner towards the back of the banquet hall.  This turned out to be the best decision I made that set the tone for the whole event.  After this initial introduction, several key people decided to join our table for dinner since it was one of the only tables with empty seats.  These individuals included Mario Spitzner (head of branding, sales, marketing for AMG) and Bernd Maylander (F1 Safety car driver).  I immediately struck up a conversation with Mario.  After several minutes discussing the history as well as the future of AMG, we got on a discussion about the specifics of AMG.  Several surprising points: AMG does have only 1 master mechanic assemble an engine from beginning to end.  On average, it takes them 2-4 hours per engine.

As we started finishing our entree (braised beef shank with chunks of black truffles) I mentioned that my girlfriend regretted not signing on as a guest to the event and was hanging out by herself in the hotel room.  I explained she's a huge car fanatic and probably knew more about cars than I did.  Mario requested she come down and join us.  Later on, Mario insisted that my girlfriend join us the next day as his guest.  This means she gets to experience all that the event has to offer (minus the driving).  I was very grateful with that gesture of friendship.  I was also very impressed at how humble everyone at AMG was as well as how they go out of their way to be hospitable.

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