Bentley’s 2023 Continental GTC Speed: A Cheetah in a Lion Suit
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Bentley’s 2023 Continental GTC Speed: A Cheetah in a Lion Suit

By Vito Racanelli
Thu, Sep 21, 2023 8:36amGrey Clock 4 min

To most driving enthusiasts, there is nothing as pleasurable as a warm day tooling round country roads in a ragtop. The smell of freshly mown lawns wafts in your nostrils; the sun’s rays bathe the atmosphere in warm tones. It doesn’t get much better.

Well, actually it does. Make the car a Bentley Continental GT. Glutton for more fun? Make that Bentley a convertible, or GTC Speed. Recently, Penta had the opportunity to wend our way around Sullivan County, New York, and put a GTC Speed through its paces.

The Drive

Given its weight, at roughly 4,800 pounds, it is no surprise that it offers a solid feel and holds the road without much effort. The GTC Speed feels a bit like a land yacht, but in a good sense. That is, when you climb aboard you know right away that you’re in for a treat and that the ride could take you anywhere. And like the U.S. Navy, the GTC Speed (standard MSRP US$317,000) projects power.

The car we drove was priced at US$379,00 because it was ladled with cushy options like a custom-made sound system, so that you can share your musical faves with your neighbours; 22-inch wheels for better grip and handling; and a high-gloss fibre finish, among many other accoutrements. A king’s ransom? Yes. However, the Bentley is often measured against the Ferrari Roma or the Mercedes Benz S65 AMG. That’s rarefied competitive air. The engineers in Crewe, England, pride themselves on making sure this GTC is capable of taking you on a long drive comfortably at 90 mph as well as on a quick run to the local grocery store. Think of a cheetah in a lion’s suit, and you get the picture.

It tops out at 208 mph, in case you need a latte really quickly. We took it to 161 mph in sport mode for a few moments and enjoyed a marvellous and mischievous thrill ride, and no smokies with radar guns. For obvious reasons, what interstate we managed this is a top business secret. [But don’t try this at home!] And if you love big engines, note that next year’s models will be the last with such W-12 muscle, part of a greener Bentley, as Penta has previously reported.

The Specs

The vast hood hides a 6.0-litre, twin-turbocharged W12 engine, a monster that delivers bold power as well more graceful manoeuvring than otherwise might be expected from such a heavy car. The horsepower is rated at 650 and the car obtains gas mileage of 15 city and 22 highway. Bentley says it will do 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. Other Bentley Continental GTs are available with a V8 engine, for those more concerned about the environment.

The Bentley GTC Speed offers four driving modes: Comfort mode is a likeable combination of a speedy roadster that will take you to 100 mph, before you even notice. Call it relaxed cruising.

Move to Sport mode and the GTC does its unique version of a squat thrust, and off you go. Sport mode optimises the engine, transmission, and suspension to boost dynamic ability, and when engaged, it should be immediately felt by the driver. And the engine, normally quiescent, begins to roar through the two exhausts in the rear. The other modes are Bentley, a combo of sport and comfort, and Custom. The chassis system features rear-wheel steering, which improves cornering at speed.

The color of the model we drove is called Kingfisher.
Vito Racanelli

From the front, back, or side it’s a handsome car, and certainly gets its share of acknowledging looks from pedestrians. The Bentley GTC driver quickly learns to recognise the envy of onlookers and other drivers. The colour of the model we drove is called Kingfisher. We plebs would say it was a sweet shade of light blue. OK, Kingfisher, if you must. The GT hardtop is just US$259,000 before options but we recommend the GTC Speed convertible, unless you live way up North. The Bentley line up consists of a range of GT and GTC models that can be customised for engine size and hp; convertibles and hardtops; and colours, etc., among other accoutrements.

The Cabin

In a few words, luxurious and spacious for the front two passengers, but little room for others in the back seat. It’s a GT 2+2, typical in that the back seats are negligible for humans. As we tested a convertible, we shoehorned a 6-footer into the back seat with the top down, but the advantage of being able to lick your knees was somehow lost on our uncomfortable passenger. Best to keep the backseats to dogs or children.

What’s Not to Like

Penta has noted in other expensive luxury sports competitors to Bentley: the invasion of plastic in the cabin. Yes, it lightens the car’s weight, improves performance, yadda, yadda, yadda. But even a little is a lot for cars at this price level. This Bentley does have plastic here and there in the cabin. Not a lot, but really, one might expect control knobs made of gold in this price range. And the gasoline tank dial could be bigger and better placed, but you get used to it. Maybe you don’t want to see, or care, for that matter.

At the end of a long summer’s day driving the GTC Speed, you feel as if you are in a fast and mobile Four Season’s Suite.


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Booming demand for wellness tourism shows no slowing, with travel related to health and well-being projected to have reached $1 trillion last year and to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025, according to the Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit based in Miami.

Curated wellness travel programs are especially sought-after, specifically holistic treatments focused on longevity. Affluent travellers not only are making time to hit the gym while gallivanting across the globe, they’re also seeking destinations that specifically cater to their wellness goals, including treatments aimed at living longer.

“I believe Covid did put a spotlight on self-care and well-being,” says Penny Kriel, corporate director of spa and wellness at Salamander Collection, a group of luxury properties in places like Washington, D.C., and Charleston, South Carolina. But Kriel says today’s spas are more holistic, encouraging folks to understand the wellness concept and incorporate it into their lifestyle more frequently.

“With the evolution of treatment products and technology, spas have been able to enhance their offerings and appeal to more travellers,” Kriel says.

While some growth is connected to the variety of treatments available, results and the digital world are also contributing to the wellness boom.

“The efficacy and benefits of these treatments continue to drive bookings and interest, especially with the support of social media, influencers, and celebrity endorsements,” Kriel says.

While genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, a diet free of processed foods, sufficient sleep, and human connection play essential roles in living well and longer, experts believe in holistic therapies to help manage stress, boost immunity, and ultimately influence length and quality of life.

Anti Ageing and Beyond

“For years, people have been coming to spas, booking treatments, and gaining advice on how to turn the clock back with anti ageing and corrective skin treatments,” Kriel says. However, today’s treatments are far more innovative.

On Marinella Beach in Porto Rotondo, on the Italian island of Sardinia, guests at the five-star Abi d’Oru Hotel & Spa can experience the resort’s one-of-a-kind “longevity treatment,” a unique antiaging facial using one of the island’s native grapes: Cannonau. The world’s first declared “Blue Zone”—one of five designated areas where people live longer than average, some into their 100s—Sardinia produces this robust red wine varietal, the most widely planted on the island.

Known as Garnacha in Spain and Grenache in France, Cannonau supposedly contains two to three times more antioxidants than other red-wine grapes. By incorporating Cannonau, Abi Spa says its unique 50-minute longevity session increases collagen production for firmer, younger-looking skin.

Maintaining a youthful appearance is just one facet of longevity treatments, which range from stress-reduction sessions like massage to nutritional support and sleep programs, Kriel says. Some retreats also offer medical services such as IV infusions and joint injections.

Keeping with the trend, Kriel is expanding Salamander Collection’s existing spa services, such as detox wraps and lymphatic drainage, to include dedicated “Wellness Rooms,” new vegan and vegetarian menu items, and well-being workshops. “Sleep, nutrition, and mindfulness will be a big focus for integration in 2024,” she says.

Data-Driven Wellness

Skyler Stillings, an exercise physiologist at Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort—an adults-only wellness centre in Lanai, Hawaii—says guests were drawn to the social aspect when the spa opened in November 2021.

“We saw a huge need for human connection,” she recalls. But over the past few years, what’s paramount has shifted. “Longevity is trending much more right now.”

Human connection is a central draw for guests at Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Billionaire co-founder of tech company Oracle Larry Ellison and physician and scientist Dr. David Angus co-founded Sensei. After the death of a mutual close friend, the duo teamed up to create longevity-based wellness retreats to nurture preventative care and a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the Lanai location, the brand established Sensei Porcupine Creek in Greater Palm Springs, California, in November 2022.

Sensei has a data-driven approach. The team performs a series of assessments to obtain a clearer picture of a guest’s health, making wellness recommendations based on the findings. While Sensei analyses that data to curate a personalised plan, Stillings says it’s up to the guests which path they choose.

Sensei’s core three-day retreat is a “Guided Wellness Experience.” For spa treatments, each guest checks into their own “Spa Hale,” a private 1,000-square-foot bungalow furnished with an infrared sauna, a steam shower, a soaking tub, and plunge pools. The latest therapies include Sarga Bodywalking—a barefoot myofascial release massage, and “Four Hands in Harmony,” a massage with two therapists working in tandem. Sensei Guides provide take-home plans so guests can continue their wellness journeys after the spa.

Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Sanctuaries for Longevity

Headquartered in Switzerland with hotels and on-site spas across the globe, Aman Resorts features an integrative approach, combining traditional remedies with modern medicine’s advanced technologies. Tucked behind the doors of the storied Crown Building in Midtown Manhattan, Banya Spa House at Aman New York—the brand’s flagship spa in the Western Hemisphere—is a 25,000-square-foot, three-floor urban oasis.

Yuki Kiyono, global head of health and wellness development at Aman, says the centre provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being. Aman’s customisable “Immersion Programs” consist of a three- or five-day immersion. “The programs encompass treatments and experiences that touch every significant aspect to create a path for longevity, from meditation and mindfulness to nutrition and movement,” Kiyono explains.

Banya Spa House at Aman New York.
Robert Rieger

The spa’s “Tei-An Wellness Solution” features 90- to 150-minute sessions using massage, cryotherapy, and Vitamin IV infusions. Acupuncture is also on offer.

“With its rich history of Chinese Medicine, modern research, and the introduction of sophisticated electro-acupuncture medicine, acupuncture has been proven to assist with problems and increase performance,” Kiyono says.

Resetting the Mind and Body

Beyond longevity, “healthspan”—the number of years a person can live in good health free of chronic disease—is the cornerstone of Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat’s program in British Columbia, Canada.

Kirk Shave, president and program director, and his team employ a holistic approach, using lifestyles in long-living Blue Zones as a point of reference.

“We improve our daily lifestyle habits, so we live vitally as long as we’re meant to live,” Shave says of the retreat. He built the program from an anthropological stance, referencing humans as farmers, hunters, and gatherers based on their eating and sleeping patterns. Food includes vegetable-centric meals sans alcohol, sugar, bread, or dairy.

Guests wake at dawn each day and have access to sunrise yoga, several hours of “flow” or slow hiking, spa treatments, forest bathing, calming crystal singing-bowl and sound therapy sessions, and classes on stress reduction—one of Mountain Trek’s primary goals. The program motivates people to spend much of their time in nature because it’s been proven to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to inflammation and disease when elevated for extended periods.

While most guests aren’t aware of how immersive Mountain Trek’s program is when they arrive, they leave the resort revitalized after the structured, one-week program. Set in the Kootenays overlooking its eponymous river, the resort and adventure promise what Shave calls a “visceral experience of transformation.”

“They’re interested in coming to be in nature,” Shave says of the guests. “They hit a wall in their life and slipped backwards, so they know they need a reset.”

Banya Spa House at Aman New York provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.
Robert Rieger

This article first appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of Mansion Global Experience Luxury.


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Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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