All posts by VIPLimo

A Superior Change

Standard offerings for livery vehicles have been in place for a very long time. The Lincoln Town Car sedan dominated black car service for years and years, with its spacious cabin, smooth engine, and classic look. Chevrolet stepped in with an upgraded Suburban, ditching the cheap plastics and panel gaps to go for a cleaner, more professional look while still maintaining four-season capability. But then Lincoln axed the Town Car after a 30 year run, and the Suburban is starting to show its age.

At VIP Limousine, we love a good challenge, but upgrading vehicles can be difficult when the market changes. The uncertainty is further heightened when getting closer to the end of a design’s lifespan, as we want our clients to ride in up-to-date style, whether they live in Salt Lake City, somewhere else in Utah, or are coming from the outside.

Our resident car guru, Philip Keeve, conducted a plethora of research in order to make the right choice, whether it was a Suburban or something else, to start a series of fleet upgrades. Ultimately we made a decision with his guidance which sets a new trend in Utah’s SUV livery service.

VIP Limousine now proudly chauffeurs clients in the Ford Expedition Max.

LED lighting galore! The business end of the Ford Expedition Max.
LED lighting galore! The business end of the Ford Expedition Max.

In the past, Ford’s full-size SUV options have trailed the competition. They’ve been plenty big, but they were not quite up to the quality and refinement standards expected for livery service. The new Expedition Max, though, is a game-changing vehicle, which is why we chose it over the offerings from General Motors.

As cabins go, Ford has this one nailed with a balance of form and function. Highlighting the space are real chrome and wood trim pieces, coupled with soft-touch plastics and knurled knobs. The interior space is superior in all three rows of seating, with good visibility all around and easy access, even to the very back. At VIP Limousine, our focus is always on the rear rows of passengers, and the Expedition Max has a lot of legroom, easily accommodating tall passengers. The second row can recline and slide back and forth easily, and the third row has an electric recline, as well as a flat floor for better legroom and seating position. Automatic climate control and USB charging ports are in place for all of the rear rows for maintenance of comfort and extended life of peripherals; the second row also has a 110V power outlet and a standard cigarette lighter-style plug-in. A plethora of cupholders ensures that occupants stay well-hydrated at all times, with at least one for each seating position. The stereo system is by Bang & Olufsen and kicks out amazing sound, while thicker glass and extra sound deadening mean that passengers hear more of what’s inside the cabin and almost nothing outside.

The Expedition Max spec’d out for VIP Limousine is jet black with a lot of chrome accents, making it stand out on the road. LED exterior lighting looks sharp and classy, without being overwrought. The vehicle may also have 22″ wheels, putting the Cadillac Escalade to shame.

The quiet standout on the street.
The quiet standout on the street.

So, how does it drive? In spite of those big wheels, the ride is comfortable but controlled, which keeps passengers from being tossed about and still providing a comfortable experience. Ford has the EcoBoost powertrain under the hood of the Expedition Max, so the engine’s muted growl is the only indication that it is whisking the vehicle along at a smooth and steady clip. With more power and better fuel economy than GM’s standard V8, the Expedition Max is the best it gets for a big SUV.

In case one has a lot of luggage to carry, the VIP Limousine Expedition Max has more than enough space. The seats are endlessly configurable to best balance people and cargo, and the cubic footage is enormous. Extra storage bins add up to even more space inside. Ours is also equipped with a trailer hitch in case of even more luggage, enabling use of the luggage trailer.

VIP Limousine’s new full-size SUV offering is the best in Utah, balancing style and comfort and standing out on the street. We look forward to chauffeuring clients for years to come in this type of vehicle, and we’re proud to be members of the Ford family. A very special thanks to Performance Ford in Tooele for helping us obtain our class-leading SUV!

California Dreamin’: A Road Trip with our newest limousine!

Having established itself as the pre-eminent limousine service in Utah, VIP Limousine is making some changes, and is starting by the augmentation of its Salt Lake City-based fleet. Our assistant manager, Philip Keeve, chronicled his journey in a video (shared below), but there are some amusing details we also wanted to share.

First of all, we want to start by thanking our new friends at JWD Limo Sales in Fontana, California, for finding, preparing, servicing, and ultimately providing us with a beautiful new addition to our limousine fleet. They have a unique selection of limos for sale, and Rick was great to work with, even agreeing to meet us on a day off so we could complete the transaction. Thanks to them, we are now the proud owners of the best black stretch sedan in the state of Utah.

The journey begins with finding the vehicle online, and then getting together a flight for Philip to travel down to California. He flew into LAX on Friday evening, and then took the LA Metro and Amtrak to Ontario to crash for the night before continuing to neighboring Fontana early the next morning. For whatever reason, he enjoys a bit of adventure on the cheap, even if it takes longer, but especially if it also can save money and lead to interesting places.

A collage featuring a sneak peak of the limo, as well as shots of the Blue and Green Lines of the LA Metro.
A collage featuring a sneak peak of the limo, as well as shots of the Blue and Green Lines of the LA Metro.

Philip met up with Rick from JWD on Saturday morning, and headed over to the nearby local Ford dealership, Sunrise Ford of Fontana, where the vehicle was being serviced and inspected. First impressions were that it had been well-maintained and was in excellent shape, with beautiful coachbuilding completed by Executive Coachbuilders. However, nobody wants to risk driving 12 hours in an unfamiliar vehicle without it being given a clean bill of health, so the dealership took extra precautions and prepped it for the road ahead.

On test once done in the service bay, Philip found the engine to be very powerful and responsive, connected to a smooth transmission and just-right suspension settings. It was easy to drive and any sense of nervousness quickly subsided. Once done, Philip was able to close out the deal and confidently set off from the dealership. He stopped by a set of stores along historic Route 66 for a bite to get on the road, and then set off on the 650 mile journey from San Bernardino County to Salt Lake City.

The first big test in limousines is to see how well their powertrain can handle a significant gradient at reasonable speeds. Philip set the cruise control and let the vehicle do the work to see what would happen; it flew up and out of the valley along I-15 without a hitch. No sign of overheating, no sign of real strain, just effortless smooth power. Once flattening out, the limo settled down for a comfortable and cool cruise towards Nevada, with the air conditioning keeping the cabin just right in the 108 degree weather which prevailed.

Philip traveled nonstop all the way to Henderson, Nevada, just outside of Las Vegas, when the vehicle needed to be refueled for the next leg of the journey. The heat continued to pound down in the Sin City suburbs, and Philip was sweating profusely, but the limo was unfazed, especially after getting a full tank. Skirting around Las Vegas to rejoin I-15 was a cakewalk, but the next stretch got more interesting.

In the area prior to Mesquite, Philip and the rest of the traffic were suddenly caught up in a nasty storm, with extremely high winds and rain so thick that everybody spent about 5 minutes driving blind. What was once an area to safely travel at 85 miles per hour became a danger zone where 25 seemed like 250. Wipers on full speed didn’t seem to do anything either, and the wind fought a tough battle against the long limo body, but ultimately both chauffeur and vehicle made it through without a scratch.

Eventually, the city of St. George beckoned just across the Utah border, which was the perfect opportunity for Philip to refuel himself and take a break. It didn’t last for long though, because shortly afterwards he was back on the road headed to Fillmore, a city in central Utah which was located in an ideal location for refueling prior to the final stretch.

Finally, at 12:30 in the morning, Philip eased the limousine into Salt Lake. As it was ticking cool, he noticed the new temporary insect adherents to the windshield and accumulated dust from driving through the desert after the storm. However, the entire journey for the vehicle had been no sweat, both literally with the crisp air conditioning and the solid powertrain, and figuratively with the logistics of travel around greater Los Angeles, meeting with JWD, and having a trouble-free journey…besides the storm. Trip completed, Philip got some rest and prepared the limo for duty at its new home with VIP Limousine.

Summertime in Utah: Things to Do, Part 3

It's stunning in the winter AND in the summer. Photo credit: TripAdvisor
It’s stunning in the winter AND in the summer. Photo credit: TripAdvisor

Circling back to our home city, Salt Lake City has no shortage of great summertime activities. The capital city of Utah welcomes visitors and surrounding residents from all around the country and the world for its spectacular scenery and beautiful weather. With the nearby airport and road network, Salt Lake and VIP Limousine are ready for your summer adventures in our hometown.

For one, summer is known as concert season, and Salt Lake has no shortage of musical entertainment. The USANA Ampitheatre is hosting Kenny Chesney, Jack Johnson, the Utah Symphony, and Luke Bryan. A few miles further north is the Vivint Smart Home Arena, which is playing host to Tim McGraw & Faith Hill, Drake, Shania Twain, Panic! At the Disco, Sam Smith, The Smashing Pumpkins, Maroon 5, J. Cole, Def Leppard & Journey, and J. Balvin. Along Main Street, Broadway at the Eccles is presenting Phantom of the Opera and Waitress: The Musical by Sara Bareilles.

If music is not your thing, the great outdoors continues to call. Salt Lake may be known as Ski City, but even without snow there’s plenty to do. Solitude, Brighton, Alta, and Snowbird all host, at minimum, hiking and cycling opportunities. Solitude, Alta, and Snowbird all have lift-served hiking, and each website also has a list of other activities such as lift rides and special events.

Outside of the resorts, Salt Lake has a myriad of hiking trails with spectacular views of the valley. Mount Olympus overlooks the city and is one of the taller peaks nearby. Above the University of Utah is the Living Room, and for quick jaunts there’s always Ensign Peak just above The Avenues and downtown.

If you’re in the need for food, Salt Lake also has no shortage of excellent local and national restaurants catering to a variety of tastes and group sizes. We at VIP Limousine have highlighted a few of our favorites here on the blog, including Pallet, Current Fish and Oyster, The New Yorker, Cafe Trio, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

Salt Lake City is not just a wintertime locale. Our beautiful home is a four-season inland paradise with lots to do and lots to offer with options for everybody. Let us take you where you want to go!

Summertime in Utah: Things to Do, Part 2

In various counties in Utah in the summertime, there’s quite a lot to do even though the snow is gone. One particular place which VIP Limousine is a fan of is Utah County, the growing area immediately south of Salt Lake County and a short drive from downtown Salt Lake City.

One of the most noticeable things about Utah County is the continuation of the Wasatch Mountain range heading south. In some places, it looks even more tall and imposing than those in Salt Lake. The most famous of these is Mount Timpanogos, a popular hiking spot with two very difficult routes to the summit. Aspen Grove and Timpooneke Trails go past waterfalls and wildflowers, ending with a stunning view of the valley below.

Timpanogos also has a cave system with tours within the Timpanogos Cave National Monument in American Fork Canyon. The hike is not extraordinarily difficult and the cave tours are fun for all ages.

On the backside of Timpanogos and tucked up inside a canyon in the Uinta National Forest is Sundance Resort, a year-round resort location with beautiful hikes and summertime chairlift rides. Sundance has great lodging and dining options on site and is continually a quiet retreat, with mountain homes, spas, and music events.

Further south and west, we get to the heart of the county and its activities. Provo is home to the annual Freedom Festival, complete with a parade, fireworks, and a concert at LaVell Edwards Stadium at BYU. Nearby is Utah Lake, a large body of water home to boating and swimming inside of Utah Lake State Park.

If you’re looking for more sedate activities, consider the offerings available at Thanksgiving Point. The vast acreage of this establishment include massive gardens and multiple museums, with special exhibits and calendar events throughout the year.

As if we needed more proof that we love our home area, Utah County has a lot to add during the summertime in Utah. We definitely believe it’s worth checking out.

Summertime in Utah: Things to Do, Part 1

For visitors and even some locals and residents in Utah, many of the best-known activities and events take place in the wintertime. These include the myriad of ski areas located a short distance from downtown Salt Lake, but there’s so much more than just skiing to find at these locations.

Our tour starts in Park City, the picturesque town just 40 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport. The farmers markets and parades along Main Street are a good place to start, in addition to the variety of public hiking and biking trails over at Trailside and amidst some of the residential areas above Kimball Junction and Jeremy Ranch.

Then there’s the resorts themselves. Deer Valley Resort offers a good number of activities where one can work a good sweat, such as hiking and chairlift rides, mountain biking, The Summer Adventure Camp, and a variety of summer concerts located at the resort base. Some of these performances come from the Utah Symphony and their summer series for the Deer Valley Music Festival.

Immediately next to Deer Valley is the vast Park City Mountain Resort, also open for summer operations. The Park City main village and Canyons village both offer different things to do during these months. The main village has summertime lift rides, mountain biking, hiking, zip lines, the alpine slide, alpine coaster, and minigolf. Just down the road at Canyons village is more lift riding, hiking, mountain biking, minigolf/putting, and zip line tours which cross deep canyons. Park City Mountain Resort also has a summer concert series at the base of the Canyons Village, taking place in a shell on the slopeside lawn.

With parking and traffic, some of these activities can be a bit challenging to access, but we at VIP Limousine are more than happy to handle the travel logistics and avoid the parking lots. Park City, Utah is a beautiful place year-round, and now is a fantastic time to enjoy its offerings.

Going Local: Doug Wright

Yes, we know it's just semi-retirement, but the voice of Utah will be dearly missed. Photo credit:
Yes, we know it’s just semi-retirement, but the voice of Utah will be dearly missed. Photo credit:

As consumers, users, and purveyors of local Utah media, we at VIP Limousine are constantly trying to keep up to speed with what’s going on in our backyard, whether in our office, at home, or on the road. May 31st, the day of this writing, marked the final news broadcast of a local legend with whom we are greatly familiar on the airwaves.

Before this company even came into existence, Doug Wright was already in the broadcast business as a DJ, and then moved over to talk radio initially to fill in as a replacement. However, for many of us, he is best known as the host of his eponymous radio program, “The Doug Wright Show,” broadcast on weekdays on KSL NewsRadio. So, what will we miss as he heads into semi-retirement?

Creating and building relationships. Doug has had a way of leaping into action to break stories and disrupt whatever was planned when needed, with a calm and level-headed approach to asking questions and getting answers. In the service industry, we definitely know what it’s like to try and cultivate relationships, even with those who see things differently than we do, but we still feel we could learn a thing or two from this man. Doug has managed to get to know people everywhere across the state, from local citizenry that phone in with their opinions to the movers and shakers at the top of Utah and beyond. Some of these include (retiring) State Senate Minority Leader Jim Dabakis (D), (retiring) Speaker of the Utah State Legislature Greg Hughes (R), various Utah governors, former governor and presidential candidate and current Senate candidate Mitt Romney (R), Salt Lake City mayors such as Ralph Becker and Jackie Biskupski, and the individuals who work at various agencies getting Utah on the move such as UDOT. Doug can talk to all of them and hold a great, informative conversation which serves to enlighten everyone who tunes in.

Local business outreach. Doug regularly partners with and broadcasts from companies in our backyard, including Harvest Right, a manufacturer of home freeze driers; Minky Couture, producer of designer blankets for the home; My Hearing Centers, providers of advanced hearing aids; and Megaplex Theatres, the locally-run movie theatre company under the Larry H. Miller Group. As a local business ourselves, it is with great pleasure that we hear these local success stories promoted on a regular basis. Doug also does ads for Ruth’s Chris Steak House, American Loans, and Kinetico, to name just a few.

Focus on the citizens. A staple of Doug’s show was interacting with people from around Utah who would call in to share their perspective and input. He took the time to highlight what we were thinking on a local level, and politely interacting with every caller as if they were a neighbor. However, he also could get tough when needed, whether it was on an issue most everyone agreed on (the infamous proposed UTA name change to TDU) or one which was extraordinarily divisive (the Bears Ears Monument).

While we know that nine to noon will not be quite the same anymore on KSL, we do still get him for the Movie Show, which is definitely a favorite segment for its light-heartedness, hilarious banter, presence of local businesses, and honest takes on entertainment today.

As Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic step up to the plate in his place, we as a local business want to say thank you to Doug for his years of hard work for all of us across the state of Utah. It’s been our privilege to tune in, and we hope he gets to spend his well-earned time off with the people he loves…and finish the bathroom in Eureka.

Note: all content and insights in this post have come courtesy of us actually listening to the show.

Going Local: Delta Air Lines

The “Going Local” blog series posts are meant to highlight local businesses and companies which have unique traits and drive the economy, culture, or both, across the Wasatch and Utah as a whole. However, with exceptions we will also focus on national or international companies which have chosen to root themselves here as well, even if they are based elsewhere. From one transportation company to another, we are more than happy to turn our attention to a major player in Salt Lake City: Delta Air Lines.

Do those mountains look familiar? With hundreds of daily flights around the world, Delta Air Lines is by far the largest carrier from the Salt Lake City International Airport: Photo credit:
Do those mountains look familiar? With hundreds of daily flights around the world, Delta Air Lines is by far the largest carrier from the Salt Lake City International Airport: Photo credit:

Initially a small crop-dusting operation started in the southern United States, Delta is now the eldest of the airline companies in the United States, weathering many storms over its lifetime. An intelligent business model coupled with some unorthodox approaches and innovations to travel have kept the company as a world leader in travel. It has grown from the company known as Huff Daland Dusters to the second-largest airline in the world, and one of the few to serve all six inhabited continents across the globe.

Delta’s story in Salt Lake City begins with a former subsidiary known as Western Airlines, which had begun to expand but ended up fully merging with Delta in 1987. Western originally started in 1925 as an air mail route under contract with the government between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, but grew to become an international carrier flying around the globe. In many cases, when airlines merge there are a lot of service cuts and hub reductions, to the detriment of travelers and the local and state economies. However, Delta did precisely the opposite, staking its ground with Salt Lake as a new western U.S. hub. Out of all of its airports, for Delta, Salt Lake City International Airport is their 5th busiest, ahead of JFK, LAX, and SeaTac.

Part of what makes Delta’s service stand out in Utah is the variety of places the airline serves. They have remained dedicated to the Intermountain West and surrounding region, and continue to serve small airports in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, and Utah. It says a lot when a large company does not forget about the smaller areas which still demand service. On the other end of the scale, Delta also has far-flung direct flights from Salt Lake to international destinations in Mexico, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and France, making it even more convenient for global visitors to access all that Utah has to offer, and for locals to more easily explore the globe without having to go through the crowded coastal airports. Beyond Delta itself, the airline is a member of SkyTeam, a 20-member airline alliance with connections to over 1,000 destinations worldwide, plus codeshare agreements with Hawaiian, Jet Airways, Seaborne Airlines, Transavia, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, and WestJet.

As the Salt Lake City metro area grows, so has the traffic at Salt Lake City International Airport. Further underlining Delta’s commitment to Utah is their investment and support behind the brand new airport being built in Salt Lake City. Delta has done a lot of other community good as well, serving as a sponsor for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. The airline also carries thousands of missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around the world from Salt Lake City as they leave from the Missionary Training Center.

Delta’s innovations as a company are far and wide, as the company collaborates with a wide variety of organizations. For instance, they partnered with the TSA to pilot an updated security screening system which is currently in place in Atlanta and JFK. This has already been proven to be much more efficient and faster at getting passengers through security. Delta also has switched to RFID tags for tracking checked luggage, which enables passengers to follow their bags on the Fly Delta app in real time. The company also finds creative ways to save costs which they can pass on to consumers, such as upgrading existing planes to bring them up to date or beyond. For this as well as their newest aircraft (a la Airbus A350 and Boeing 737-900 ER), Delta has won a multitude of accolades for passenger accommodation.

By connecting the world to Utah, and Utah to the world, Delta Air Lines is the airborne gateway to our home in Salt Lake. As Delta passengers utilize our service, and since we are also Delta customers ourselves when we travel, we would like to extend a sincere thank-you to the Atlanta-based company for what they do on the ground and in the air.