AccorHotels has acquired a 50% stake in luxury train company Orient Express from the French state-owned rail company SNCF Group.
It now intends to develop a group of “prestigious hotels” under the Orient Express brand, three years after the name was dropped from the 45-strong collection of luxury hotels and travel experiences, which have since been rebranded as Belmond.
Since 1977, SNCF Group has developed the Orient Express as a prestigious brand, through the restoration of vintage carriages dating from the 1920s.
AccorHotels wants the new Orient Express collection of hotels to provide “a unique experience steeped in history that combines the luxury, exoticism and sophistication of East and West in iconic locations”.
Sébastien Bazin, chairman and chief executive, AccorHotels, said he was “delighted” with the new partnership, which “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”.
“Thanks to this partnership, our customers will be able to enjoy a prestigious range of services and exceptional experiences based on a portfolio of luxury brands,” he added.
Mathias Vicherat, deputy chief executive of corporate project, communication and image, SNCF Group, added: “SNCF Group is proud to have contributed to the renaissance of this historic brand and we intend to continue our involvement and provide our expertise, acquired over the past 80 years in the field of rail engineering, to help develop this project.”
Confusingly, Belmond operates the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train under licence from SNCF, which has no connection with the Orient Express.
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