Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lush Limo Service launches Wine Country Personal Drivers

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When Travis Vaughn first came to Paso Robles from Southern California nearly a decade ago, he had just one goal in mind: Assist his mother through personal hardship by helping out with her high-end bed & breakfast, High Ridge Manor. 

Like so many other former city-dwellers, he never left.

“I came up for one year and got [my mom] up and running – did all of her marketing, advertising and all the local orientation,” Vaughn said.

“Then, halfway through the year, I was in love with Paso Robles," he said. "The weather, the people, the attitude, the culture – everything just fit in with who I am and what I enjoy.”

Vaughn, who had taken a year of absence from a solid job – district manager of Best Buy in Orange County – decided to take the plunge and start a new business. Inspired by the area’s mix of rustic charm and sophistication – as well as his recent dabbling in upscale hospitality – he decided to start his own limo service. Lush Limousine was born.

If the risk paid off, he’d make a new life for himself in Paso Robles. If it didn’t, he’d be back in his old condo in Orange County, doing the same old thing he’d done before. 

“I literally flew out to Vegas, bought a limo and drove it back,” said Vaughn, who never did go back to his old life down south. “The first month I bought [the car] I was super busy. My number one goal in the beginning was taking care of locals, and I’ve stuck to my guns for the whole business now. It’s all about local orientation for me. I made [my service] affordable for locals and provided a better service.”

A few more limos and a plush town car later, Lush Limo Service is slated to celebrate its sixth anniversary as well as a welcome expansion. 

This year, Vaughn started a valet service targeting the local wine industry. 

Now, he’s serving tasters with the launch of Wine Country Personal Drivers. The new service allows tasters to sip the good life while holding onto more of their hard-earned cash.

"You may just need a professional driver who comes to you at your home, hotel or bed-and-breakfast and drives your vehicle for you," said Vaughn. "This service allows you to sit back and enjoy the ride and wine taste in comfort and security."

The service specializes in the Paso Robles Wine Country, and Vaughn noted that his rivers are knowledgeable on all the main wineries as well as dozens of boutique wineries. Tasters can also explore the Edna Valley as well as other tasting opportunities off the beaten path.

Vaughn said the service allows tasters to enjoy the scenery, savor the wine country experience and all for less than it would cost to hire a limo driver. The rate is $30 per hour for locals, and so far, he's served groups of friends packed into SUVs and couples looking for a romantic retreat.

Although limos and town cars are fun for special occasions, the Paso resident said he also saw a growing need for reasonably-priced professional drivers serving local and out-of-town wine enthusiasts. However, he said the service doesn't scrimp on customer service.

"Wine Country Personal Driver is the same exact type of service as my limousines and town cars," he said. "The only difference is that it's in the comfort of the client's own vehicle. We send out a chauffeur, fully-suited, knowledgable about the wine area, and they treat your car as if it were a limousine."

Whether it's a Maserati or Ford Pinto, drivers will hold open doors, give expert advice and even snap photos of the trip free of charge.

Vaughn said integrating himself into the local community has always been a top priority, and its worked for his business. He never needed to advertise, and he still gives locals a healthy discount for their patronage.

"We stick to the local and the service orientation," Vaughn said. "That's my goal always – don't sacrifice service and always take care of locals."

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