Napaway premium sleeper coach service and Black Tie Transportation & Bus Charters are partnering to create a luxurious ground transportation experience.
As part of the partnership, Black Tie will add two co-branded luxury motor coaches using Napaway’s proprietary Butterfly convertible seating system to its North Carolina-based charter fleet.
Black Tie has a fleet of over 80 vehicles, from sedans to luxury motor coaches. Adding these luxury Napaway coaches will augment Black Tie’s premium service, which has been operating for over 35 years.
“We’re raising the standard of what luxury charters can be,” said Black Tie CEO Gray Hill. “This represents a tremendous addition to our service offering, and it’s something our customers are very excited about.“
The partnership allows the company to “offer passengers a super-premium option in the form of Napaway’s private suites, lie-flat beds, and flexible seating,” added Jeff Shanker, Black Tie’s Chief Strategy Officer.
Private suites onboard
Napaway, which operates a line-run service between Washington and Nashville, Tennessee, describes itself as a new type of premium ground transportation.
The company’s proprietary seating system, developed in collaboration with Butterfly Flexible Seating Solutions, consists of 18 private suites, each containing a pair of extra-legroom seats that can be folded down to create a single 6.5-foot-long bed. These executive seats can also be used individually for a total capacity of 36 passengers.
“We’re proud to have Black Tie as our first partner in the charter market,” said Napaway CEO Dan Aronov. “There is no one we trust more with the Napaway brand. We look forward to expanding our partnership with Black Tie and adding partner operators for charter and line-run service in other markets throughout the country.”
Black Tie and Napaway plan to roll out their two co-branded Prevost H3-45 coaches on the road in late March.
Black Tie had been searching for coaches with upscale amenities for a few years when an engineer at Prevost suggested the company talk to Napaway. The two companies began discussing a collaboration two years ago.
Aronov has created luxury accomodations that are more versatile than an entertainer coach, Shanker says, explaining, “this type of luxury enables you to give a truly first-class experience on the bus, along with the ability to turn it into a sleeper.”
Shanker says he’s seen demand for the Napaway coaches – which are modified Prevost motorcoaches — for a variety of clients from executive groups to athletic teams.
What sets the Napaway coaches apart from other vehicles are the configurations that allow a set to quickly move from a couch to a bed with privacy.
“It’s an amazingly comfortable ride,” said Shanker. “The pod is set up so that you’re in your own first-class space and you can pull the shade down. And if I want to listen to rock music, and somebody behind me wants to listen to hip hop, or I want to watch one show on my devices, we aren’t hearing each other.”
Aronov cites two big differences between a Napaway coach and a traditional entertainer bus.
“The first is we sleep 18 rather than 12. And number two, it’s a much easier installation. We use touring coaches rather than shells. The seats are factory-made and then bolted into the floor rather than having to do a full build-out of a full shell,” Aronov said.
Driver safety at night
While many in the motorcoach industry have moved away from having motorcoaches on the road at night because of concerns about driver alertness, Aronov and Shanker say they have put safety precautions into their model.
“For all the overnight work, our coaches are equipped with eye tracking systems, which have evolved a lot over time,” said Aronov. “There used to be a headband that would watch your nodding, and it only worked sometimes. The new systems are quite effective. They will detect if your eyes are closed for an unusually long time and immediately vibrate the seat and beep at you. So there’s a pre-emptive thing. The days of somebody falling asleep behind the wheel and crashing don’t happen with this system in place.
“There are also many other things in terms of scheduling, proper break times, and adjusting to schedules. But at the last line of defense, we have the eye-detection system to make sure that that cannot happen. I think our insurance companies certainly appreciate the presence of that system, and it lets me sleep at night.”
Shanker adds that his company has a handful of drivers that prefer overnight driving.
“They like that nobody is on the highway and the passengers aren’t bothering them. It’s a niche group of people, and they do it well,” Shanker says. “And we want to ensure their circadian rhythm switches to the night shift instead of being up during the day. A lot of planning goes into it.”
Aronov adds that Napaway has a training program that takes experienced charter drivers and trains them to create a smoother ride by slowing down in certain places.
“We call it the lullaby specialist,” Aranov said. “It’s getting folks to understand the difference when you have people laying down in the back and sitting in a seat.”
Aronov calls Black Tie a good fit for his brand, which launched last summer.
“They’re a really premier operator,” he said, “and they’ll be a great ambassador for the brand and for the concept. Jeff and his team understood the value proposition very early on and could see the potential and different use both on the wide run and the charter side.”
He’s looking for more partners in other regions.