by Matt Alderton | October 05, 2017
In a world that's fixated on new modes of transportation, such as autonomous vehicles and Hyperloops, there's still something special about the transportation systems of yore -- in particular, railroads, which are enjoying increased ridership thanks to trains' affordability, convenience, and environmental friendliness relative to cars and planes.

Many hoteliers already have capitalized on consumers' nostalgia for trains by turning old train stations into boutique hotels. At least one, however, is doing it by launching a new hotel brand: French hotelier AccorHotels announced yesterday that it is partnering with SNCF Group, owner of the iconic "Orient Express" brand, to launch a new collection of luxury hotels inspired by the legendary train.

"We are delighted with this strategic partnership, which today cements the alliance of two major French players in the world of travel for a shared purpose: that of giving fresh impetus and international standing to an historic and world-renowned brand," said AccorHotels Chairman and CEO  Sébastien Bazin.

The first Orient Express train connecting Paris with Constantinople -- now Istanbul -- debuted on Oct. 4, 1883. Since 1977, SCNF Group has been paying homage to the iconic rail brand by restoring vintage carriages and organizing special "Orient Express" events. Its partnership with AccorHotels, which will acquire a 50 percent stake in the share capital of Orient Express, represents a new chapter in the brand's 134-year history.

Although details about specific properties are not yet available, AccorHotels said its planned hotels will "offer a unique experience steeped in history that combines the luxury, exoticism, and sophistication of East and West in iconic locations." Additionally -- and of particular interest to meeting planners -- Orient Express will operate seven historic Orient Express rail cars that will be available to groups for private journeys and events, utilizing services from other AccorHotels companies, including events firm Noctis, catering outfit Potel & Chabot, and concierge service John Paul.

"In its time, the Orient Express took the art of traveling to its peak. This ambitious project, which is unique, cannot come to fruition without the complementary skills of our two shareholders," said Guillaume de Saint Lager, corporate secretary, Orient Express. "We are proud and particularly look forward to being involved in writing this new chapter with such strong backing. Our ambition is to recreate this experience and make the Orient Express the gold standard in luxury travel and hospitality."


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