Right off the bat, let me admit that there are occasionally review opportunities that I’m predisposed to be a fan of. As a food, drink, travel and tech writer, I often receive invitations to sample items and experiences that I know going in will probably be pretty bad-ass, or pretty bad.
The chance to visit Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN and drive a bunch of Lexus LUVs (Luxury Utility Vehicles) definitely fell into the former category when I heard about it.
My eagerness to participate came from the fact that I am already a big supporter of both entities involved. I was fortunate enough to visit Blackberry Farm a few of years back to write a profile on their chef at the time, Joseph Lenn. Even though I was just a hired hand sent by a magazine to take up a big chunk of their major culinary employee’s time for the interviews and photo shoots, the staff at Blackberry treated me with the same sort of commitment to complete customer satisfaction that they have been known for since coming under current family ownership in 1976.
And it made sense to link Blackberry Farm with Lexus, an automotive brand associated with luxury, performance, and service. Add to that the fact that my girlfriend is now on her second Lexus hybrid SUV in a row, and you can see why I was looking forward to the trip. However, despite my curiosity over what the main selling point of the media event would be or what the focus of the resort visit would revolve around, our small group of journalists was confronted with something that is sometimes rare in these kinds of events, total honesty, and hospitality.
When I inquired about “why here?” and “why now?” for the junket, a helpful and amiable Lexus representative responded, “We just think that this is how people should take vacations,” as he tossed me the keys to and $80K car and handed me a map of a scenic driving route that would allow me to test out some of the performance capabilities of the vehicle. Don’t mind if I do…