There might be a cost-of-living crisis gripping our nation right now, but try telling that to the affluent folk staying alongside me at this five-star Sardinian resort whose biggest concern at this very moment is for the wellbeing of the designer sunglasses perched on top of their heads, as they quaff flutes of bubbly in the balmy 30-degree heat.
The vast majority of guests here are super-rich types – those who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at rising domestic energy prices. Even rocketing fuel costs haven’t stopped them arriving en-masse at the marina-side hotel by yacht.
This is the ideal clientele for Lamborghini – a brand that targets money-no-object customers rather than people like me with a recent Google search history that includes: ‘Should I turn off devices at the plug to cut down on electricity bills?’
That’s why the supercar maker is here at the Italian island for a fourth summer with a temporary ‘pop-up lounge’ in the nearby exclusive retreat of Porto Cervo to waft flashy motors under the noses of well-heeled individuals while they’re soaking up the sun on vacation.
Step inside, as long as you can afford to: We’ve had inside access to Lamborghini’s pop-up lounge setup in an ultra-exclusive holiday resort in Sardinia that’s primary aim is to target super-rich clients enjoying their summer breaks
Lamborghini has been using the tactic of semi-permanent summertime showrooms for some time.
It has earmarked a number of prime locations where those with bulging bank balances often spend their downtime. Think Ibiza, St Moritz and Melbourne – popular holiday destinations for those with cash to burn.
The lounges are set up for only a matter of weeks during the peak season before being stripped down, packed away and shipped back to the brand’s Bologna base.
Our visit is to its most-established part-time residence, located in Sardinia. It first came here in 2018 with the sole aim of connecting with affluent European holidaymakers.
Come to the Italian island in April and it’s as quiet as a college for mime artists. But travel here in the summer season months of July, August, in particular, and September, and it’s abuzz with propertied people, AKA prime targets for Lamborghini.
‘The Lounge, in its 600-square-metre considering inside area and the private patio, is creating an immersive and 360˚ brand experience into the distinctive Lamborghini lifestyle DNA via several elements part of the living, designed accessories and Automobili Lamborghini branded projects developed with several partnerships,’ so the official blurb says.
There’s a bar too, of course.
The site itself is tucked into the port-side landscape in the shadow of a line-up of hulking privately-owned boats. It looks more like Batman’s underground bunker than a car showroom. But you can’t miss it thanks to a rainbow runway of bright Lambos
For the last few years, Lamborghini has been using semi-permanent summertime showrooms to target affluent holidaymakers. It has earmarked a number of prime locations, including Ibiza, St Moritz and Melbourne
Among the pop-up lounge destinations setup to attract those with cash to burn is the Porto Cervo site in Sardinia. We’ve been given inside access to see what it’s like, how it operates and what is offered to affluent customers. Of course, there’s a bar
A bespoke Huracán Tecnica (left) and unique-coloured Huracán STO (right) are parked inside the lounge as a showpiece to clients presenting what is available to them if they want to order a personalised Lamborghini
The site itself is tucked into the port-side landscape in the enormous shadow created by a line of hulking privately-owned boats. It looks more like Batman’s underground bunker than a car showroom.
However, it has prime footfall location right on the promenade – and the enclosed pop-up boutique is impossible to miss thanks to a runway of brightly coloured Lambos leading to it.
It creates an instant photo opportunity, especially for families emerging from restaurants on the harbour front, with kids drawn to the rainbow of machines like a magnet. It’s enough to arouse the interest of Mum and Dad to poke their nose inside the suave suite and to book an appointment to take a tour.
It’s a scenario that occurs time and again in the few hours I’m here to experience the Lamborghini Lounge for myself – a somewhat odd affair for someone who only hours earlier choked at the price of a Coke in the hotel minibar.
According to the brand, the 600-square-metre lounge has an inside area and private patio. The aim is to ‘create an immersive and 360˚ brand experience into the distinctive Lamborghini lifestyle DNA’
It’s not just cars. Lamborghini makes plenty of money selling expensive everyday items, including wallets and washbags. There are all on display for well-heeled customers to peruse
For those with exceptionally large bank balances, there’s a display and information on the £3million Tecnomar Lamborghini 63 super yacht
And that is its primary aim: to catch potential customers at a time when they might be most open to splashing out on a supercar.
The Italian brand describes it as a ‘point of reference for VIP customers and guests’ to share with them its latest range of astronomically-priced motors – in summer 2022’s case, it’s the newly-launched Huracán Tecnica taking centre stage.
‘During this summer the space will be used to welcome back owners and meet new customers in exclusive events, surrounded by daily driving activities on some of Sardinia’s most beautiful roads, along the scintillating Costa Smeralda,’ a spokesperson for the car manufacturer explains.
This includes test drives of the Huracán range, as well as the chance for clients to drive the Urus super SUV – the brand’s major sales success that currently contributes three in five of all orders.
New customers and returning VIPs can even book test drives of the latest cars, like the Huracán Tecnica (pictured). They will be allowed to take them on winding Sardinian roads
The Sardinia lounge is only here from July to September – the peak vacation season. Then it’s stripped down, packed away and shipped back to the brand’s Bologna base
The tactic is expensive, but very clever. The Italian island is usually quiet outside of holiday season, but in July, August and September is buzzing with propertied people. That’s why it makes little sense for there to be a permanent showroom here
The experience provides some insight into why business is booming for the Sant’Agata Bolognese brand at a time when finances have become increasingly tight for many of us.
Just a matter of weeks ago, Lamborghini announced a half-year record for sales, turnover and profitability – a staggering achievement given the global economic climate.
In fact, CEO Stephan Winkelmann says the company has sold out of its entire allocation of 2023 vehicle production. Other Lambo bods say order books for existing models currently go back an average of 18 months – the Urus even longer.
If there was ever proof of the theory that when times are hard for the poorest, the rich get richer, this is it.
Much of Lambo’s recent success has been attributed to more frivolous spending by those with the deepest pockets in the wake of the pandemic, as lockdowns and restrictions reminded them to enjoy their vast wealth while they can. And what better time to remind them of this than when they’re on no-expense-spared holidays.
To take advantage of this loosening of Prada-purse strings, luxury brands have expanded their bespoke services, offering a chance to customers to create entirely unique motors that they won’t come headlight-to-headlight with anywhere else around the world.
This has helped to boost the coffers of other premium marques, including the likes of Bentley, which said in its own half-year report that increased customisation of cars had bolstered profits in Europe and Britain in light of ongoing global economic uncertainty.
For Lambo, it has a specialist department called Ad Personam.
It offers an almost endless choice of colour configurations to those willing to shell out more on top of the six-figure prices for a ‘standard’ car – and it’s one of the biggest features of the pop-up Lamborghini Lounge in Sardinia, offering a tailor-made service to its sun-drenched, deep-pocketed, clients.
Driving the recent boom in luxury car sales in the growth of personalisation options. Customers who are shelling out six and seven-figure sums want their motors to be unique, and are willing to pay extra for exclusivity
Lamborghini now has its own department specialising in bespoke cars. It’s called Ad Personam and is one of the major focal points of the Sardinia Lounge, allowing clients to create custom designs while escaping the searing sun
The Sardinia lounge has only a selection of the near-400 ‘unique’ colour options available to clients who walk in off the marina front. Here is some of the options
My group of cash-strapped journalists and – slightly better-off – influencers are given a glimpse of how the process works, though with a fore warning that some customers can take days, even weeks, of back-and-forth decision making before hitting the order button.
Yet others can spend as little as two hours with a dedicated Lambo team member to choose their one-off creation.
Camilla Keim, Lamborghini’s glamourous Ad Personam specialist, guides us through the choices step by step. And she makes it abundantly clear that, in the eyes of Lamborghini, the customer is not always right.
‘Always focus on using only three colours,’ is the mantra repeated to the round table of journalists who are seemingly hell-bent on creating a patchwork version of the brand’s £222,000 Huracan Tecnica. And this is also the guidance given to customers, Camilla explains.
Such restrictions not only prevents buyers from creating abominations they might later regret, but is also a means of protecting the brand’s heavily cultivated image built up over the years.
While it is totally understandable in principal, the 13-year-old me – who had glossy, half-creased A3 posters of a Countach and Diablo Blu-Tacked to his bedroom wall – would find it hard to believe that Lamborghini would shackle anyone able to afford one of these incredible machines.
Much of Lambo’s recent success has been attributed to more frivolous spending by those with the deepest pockets in the wake of the pandemic and its lockdowns and restrictions reminding the rich that their wealth should be enjoyed while it can
Ad Personam even allows customers to have unique logos stitched into the seat headrests and other panels of their car, such as the Italian tricolore or even a portrait of Mona Lisa
If well-heeled customers are not able to be convinced by Lamborghini staff that three different colours for the exterior and cabin is more than enough, their mixed-palette designs go all the way up to CEO, Stephan Winkelmann, who has the final word on whether it is deemed suitable or not.
If he gives it the thumbs down, the order is rejected out of hand.
So even when money is no object to some people, that doesn’t guarantee they always get their own way. I’d certaintly love to be a fly on the wall for the phone call to a customer being told that their half-a-million-pound creation is too much of an eyesore to be built.
While the Sardinia lounge has only a selection of the near-400 ‘unique’ colour options available to clients who walk in off the marina front, Camilla tells us that customers can take things up to yet another level by having an exclusive tone of their own making.
This can be based on any item they can provide, with examples of clients putting forward lipstick colours they want replicated on their supercars. A specialist team back at the Bologna factory develops a like-for-like shade – at a price, of course – and the buyer can even pay extra to have full rights to it, meaning they decide if other clients can use it or not.
The visit has provided a brief insight into the lifestyles, luxuries and options available to those with pockets deep enough to afford a Lamborghini.
With my stay here due to come to an end, it’s time to return to my lavish hotel room to charge every device I have on me to spare my own electricity bill when I get back home.
CARS & MOTORING: ON TEST
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