There was a large turn out for the launch of the Belmond Grand Hibernian Train at the National Gallery of Ireland, where guests were treated to delicious champagne and canapés and introduced to many of the staff at Belmond.
Belmond, which is latin for ‘beautiful world’, is a global collection of exceptional hotel and luxury travel adventures in some of the world’s most inspiring destinations. Established almost 40 years ago, the company owns and operates 45 unique and distinctive hotels, rail and river cruise experiences including the Cipriani Hotel and the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express.
The balmy evening allowed John Scott, President and Chief Executive of Belmond, to comment on the ‘warm’ welcome he had received, and he took our fine weather as a symbol that this would be a great business. He said Belmond was “blessed” with great partners, Irish Rail and the Irish Government, who supported them throughout. Enquiries have been strong with over one thousand repeat visitors looking to be the first to sample the new train, the future “looks bright”, he said.
Gary Franklin, Belmond Managing Director Trains & Cruises, has holidayed in Ireland numerous times and has had one his most memorable meals in an Irish pub south of Galway Bay. He fell in love with our hospitality, scenery and culture and had a vision to bring a luxury train to Ireland. He spent a lot of time to get to this position and was proud to announce “this most amazing train, the Grand Hibernian”.
Fine dining, exceptional service, and allowing guests to meet new friends and immerse themselves in the culture of their destination, are the key to Belmond’s success. There are two itineraries, one four-night journey visiting Cork, Killarney, Galway and Westport, and a shorter two-night trip to the North of Ireland, visiting Belfast and Portrush. Highlights include a behind the scenes tour of the Jameson’s distillery, private access to Blarney National Park, and sporting activities at Ashford Castle.
If travelling to the North you can experience the Giant’s Causeway and the Titanic Experience. Everyday passengers will have the opportunity to play golf in one of Ireland’s top golf courses and, as it is an all-inclusive experience, all meals, drinks, entertainment and excursions are included in the price. Prices will start at €3,160 per person for a two-night journey and €5,420 per person for a four-night journey.
The luxury train will have the capacity for 40 passengers with a mixture of doubles, twins and interconnecting cabins, all named after a county in Ireland. Top designers are recreating a ‘typical Georgian feel’, incorporating the county colours with inspiration from the flora and fauna of the countryside in a contemporary fashion.
Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Tourism, Transport and Sport, said it was a wonderful development in both Irish tourism and Irish transport. He thanked Belmond for “a very significant investment in Irish tourism” and promised continued co-operation to ensure their investment would deliver. “We are enjoying strong growth in Ireland with over 7.5 million visits last year in a sector that employs over 200,000 people”, he said, and he was proud of the support that was given to Belmond by Irish Rail and the Government.
Although not launching on the rails until August 2016, you could feel the excitement in the room and I have no doubt that this will be a runaway success.