Driving with Dodge in San Francisco

I was invited by Chrysler to join other bloggers in San Francisco for the opportunity to drive some of the new Dodge vehicles. As you can see from the photos above, we had a beautiful day in the city by the bay, and I had a great time with this impressive new lineup.

The Dodge Charger is the flagship vehicle for the Dodge brand, and the Charger has been completely redesigned from the ground up for the 2011 model year. The iconic feel of the vehicle remains, but you can see the new, sleeker design in the first photo above and in the other Charger photos. It offers a sport sedan that I think will have huge appeal for guys looking for performance, aggressive styling and value. The car was a joy to drive through the winding roads in the Bay area, as the new suspension lived up to the promise. For a car that starts at $25,995, buyers will get tremendous value.

The real treat of the day was the 2011 Dodge Challenger. I had the opportunity to drive one of the Inaugural Edition versions of the 2011 Challenger SRT8 392. This car is beautiful as you can see from the slideshow above, with the white paint and the blue racing stripes, and it’s the ultimate American muscle car. Frankly, I can’t remember a car I enjoyed driving more than this one. The car is a torque monster – the 392 Hemi is rated at 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. I drove the automatic version, and this car is a beast! When you hit the gas at any speed, this car does exactly what you want it to do as it respond with a muscular roar. It handles beautifully as well, and any car enthusiast will fall in love with this 2011 Challenger.

While the Challenger and Charger stole the show, I was equally impressed with the other vehicles in the Dodge lineup. Dodge brought back the Durango, and this full-size SUV should be a real hit. The 2011 Durango has all the luxuries customers are becoming accustomed to in the crossover segment, but this SUV is the real deal as it still leads its class in towing capacity. Meanwhile, the handling is much better than previous versions of the vehicle, so you don’t feel like you’re driving a big truck.

In the crossover segment, the 2011 Journey should do very well in this exploding segment. Many in our group were impressed with how this car drove, and Dodge added some nice features including optional third-row seating that folds up or down depending on your needs. It’s a nice feature for families with young children.

In all the vehicles, Dodge has placed a new emphasis on the interiors and it shows. The goal for the brand is to over-deliver and provide real value for the cost of a vehicle, and you’re finally seeing Dodge live up to that promise. I loved the interior in each of the vehicles, and I think customers will feel the same way once they test drive these cars.

After San Francisco we joined the Chrysler team as they unveiled their new vehicles at the LA Auto Show where we had the opportunity to join in on a round-table discussion with Dodge CEO Ralph Gilles. Ralph is a true car enthusiast and you can see the passion he has for the new lineup.

Check back as we’ll be publishing full reviews of each of these cars, but I would recommend that you take the time to drive them. Each of the Dodge cars combines muscular styling with an impressive driver experience, and I suspect many drivers will be pleasantly surprised as they rediscover this brand.

  

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates. Also, sign up for our email list for weekly updates and check us out on Google+ as well.

Jabbawockeez MÜS.I.C. premiere at Monte Carlo in Las Vegas

Previous Previous
monte_carlo-01
Previous   Previous
Jabbawockeez MUS.I.C. premiere at Monte Carlo in Las Vegas

We had the opportunity to visit the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas to check out the new show from the world famous dance crew Jabbawockeez. Jabbawockeez generated some great buzz with shows earlier this year, so we were excited to see them at their new home at the Monte Carlo for the premiere of “MÜS.I.C.” Life was good as we spent some "behind the scenes" time with the crew, attended the incredible premiere and enjoyed the comforts of the Monte Carlo.

The Monte Carlo Resort and Casino is located right in the heart of the Vegas Strip, and this premium location is now even better with the connection to the spanking new City Center/Aria Resort. We were impressed as the staff seemed to be very serious about making the Monte Carlo a major player in the Las Vegas entertainment scene and making the hotel an “all needs under one roof” resort.

We were fortunate to spend our few nights at the Monte Carlo in a Monaco Suite that was well equipped with 700 square feet of luxurious space including a king size bed, one and a half baths, stylish furniture, 32" HDTV flat-panel TV, mini-fridge built into the entertainment center and a staff that was a phone call away 24/7 with excellent service. Dining at the Monte Carlo was also a big hit with our group. On the first night we ate at Brand Steakhouse, which combined the feeling of a classic steakhouse with an open view of the casino for some fun people watching. I ordered the Rib Eye cooked medium and I enjoyed every bite as I downed my dirty vodka martini.

There is also a very exclusive part of Monte Carlo that most don't get a chance to see. The new Hotel32 is discreetly located on the 32nd floor with elevators that you barely notice next to the main elevators. Hotel32 is for VIP guests who enjoy the finer things in life and expect to travel in style and comfort. Guests are treated to incredible penthouse suites that are so comfortable and catered that you never have to leave. The Hotel32 staff is ready to take care of your every need, with full concierge and butler service, preferred reservations at MGM Mirage restaurants and shows, and so much more. The coolest feature has to be the red iPod Touch that is loaned to guests when they arrive so that they can easily communicate all their needs and desires to the staff through a cool app.

After checking out all that the Monte Carlo and Hotel32 have to offer, we were ready for the Jabbawockeez premier. Media bloggers had a chance to spend time with the cast on Thursday night, and I found the dancers to be some of the most grateful and enthusiastic performers I had met through the years. These young men are full of positive energy and are symbolic of what hard work and perseverance can deliver for those who are dedicated to their craft. The Jabbawockeez cast is very talented, but their story is even more impressive. They started dancing in each other’s garages in California dating back to the late ‘90s and were crowned champions of "America’s Best Dance Crew," and now they’re starring at the Monte Carlo on the Las Vegas Strip.

The energy and buzz reached a fevered pitch by Friday night at the pre-party at the hip Ignite Lounge, which is right across from the Monte Carlo theatre where Jabbawockeez will begin their run in Vegas. One of the better looking crowds in town brought their own excitement to the pre-launch party that extended outdoors at the footsteps of Las Vegas Blvd. with beats from the show pumping and video playing on a wall between columns that set the stage for the evening. We were then ushered in to excellent seats and enjoyed heart throbbing music to some of the funkiest and well choreographed breaking and popping one could imagine! The performance kept me riveted and I really enjoyed the stories told through dance and dynamic teamwork the Jabbawockeez displayed through some very difficult stunts. There is also a certain mystery that surrounds the show as all cast members wear the same white mask. The performance leaves you with the illusion that the expressions change on the faces of the masks. The Jabbawockeez team sinks or swims with each other as they are nameless and faceless until the show is complete. Whether you are a hip hop fan or just someone who enjoys a great show, Jabbawockeez MÜS.I.C. will entertain and amaze you and have you feeling energized for more Monte Carlo fun! I also found it very clever how the production team even included unexpected music from eras back to Grace Kelly’s “Singin’ in the Rain” along with more surprises you need to experience for yourself.

At the post-party the cast joined their supporters and knew they hit one out of the park as everyone had smiles from ear to ear. There were some notables at this party, as super comedian, impressionist and Monte Carlo headliner Frank Caliendo made an appearance and posed for some photographs. The young and energetic crowd both in the theater and at the party made this night at the Monte Carlo one of the hottest spots in Vegas. If Jabbawockeez continues to nail it like they did at their grand opening, the Monte Carlo will be jumping for Jabbawockeez for years to come!

 

We
  

Aria opens in Las Vegas


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Here’s a photo of fireworks exploding during the grand opening of the Aria Resort & Casino at CityCenter in Las Vegas. Vegas has been hit hard by the financial crisis, and now there’s a new, really big kid on the block with CityCenter.

The 67-acre, $8.5 billion mixed-use urban development center is a joint project between MGM Mirage and Dubai World and is said to be the biggest privately financed construction project in United States history. Aria is CityCenter’s centerpiece and includes a 150,000-square-foot casino and 4,004 hotel rooms and suites. The a while there were questions as to whether this complex would ever be finished. Now it’s here and it will be interesting to see the effect it has on Vegas. Not surprisingly, room rates are pretty low for December. If you’re able to check it out leave us your impressions in the comments!

  

Escaping the “Anywhere, USA” phenomenon

In his latest cigar review for Partagas – Spanish Rosado, Bob Hritsko addressed an interesting topic in the introduction.

Whether you travel a little or a lot, you can’t help but notice the “Anywhere, USA” phenomenon. This is the term that I have for the incorporating and franchising of Americas cities, where no matter what city you are in, it is getting more difficult to find something original, especially restaurants, bars or even retail stores. Whether I am in Dallas, Charlotte, Las Vegas or anywhere, there they are — McDonalds, Starbucks, Applebee’s, Chili’s, etc. They can usually be found near the suburban malls with all the stores you know, right across the street from the Holiday Inn, Marriott Courtyard, etc.

Many of you know that I will often seek out cigar-friendly bars and establishments in the cities I visit. The draw of doing so is simply to escape the boring, repetitive convenience of traveling to Anywhere, USA, at least once in awhile. I have found the cigar-friendly establishments to be often unique venues in themselves; all the big chains have to be politically correct and ban any type of smoking, so they don’t upset their mainstream client base. The other advantage of a cigar-friendly joint is that it tends to be a little more social in nature, as a smoke is a commitment of a chunk of your time. If you are in a hurry and want to be left alone, a cigar lounge is not the place for you. Chatting with the folks in these establishments will usually provide you with the local information about other original places to experience in town.

I recently had the pleasure of doing so recently in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., visiting one of the original cigar bars in Florida, Macabi Cigar Bar on Las Olas Blvd. Once inside this dimly lit, quaint bar, I knew I stepped off the beaten path. The founder/owner, “Pat” Patel, was on hand to greet me. The plentiful selection of cigars was presented openly along the walls of the bar, a concern at first, as I wondered if the cigars could be properly cared for and maintained in this atmosphere. I was assured that the humidity and temperature were monitored. I selected a Partagas cigar and settled in for an excellent selection of beers on tap.

We’ve lost quite a bit over the years as our country has become dominated by suburbs and strip malls. Like Bob, many of us appreciate it when you can find a unique spot. That’s why cities like New York and New Orleans still have so much charm – you don’t have to look hard at all.

  

Related Posts