Category Archives: rail travel

Belmond’s Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Launches 1920s “The Party” in 2020

Belmond’s new two-night package, “The Party” begins at the Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice before boarding the iconic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express for a jazzy jaunt to London.

Belmond’s iconic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express will put the roar from the 1920s into the 2020s with the launch of “The Party” – a new two-night package that transports guests across Europe and back in time. Held from March 27–29, 2020, the festivities kick off at Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice with a speakeasy party to rival any Jay Gatsby could have thrown. The following day, guests will board the train to be whisked off to London for a jazzy jaunt that will evoke the Golden Age of glamour.

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express will wind through Italy, Austria, Switzerland and France, passing the snowy Alps and glassy lakes. Clad in flapper dresses and spats, guests will bring history to life on board the train’s 17 carriages, all of which are from the 1920s. As “The Party” roars along the rails, surprise entertainment and impromptu performances will unfold both on and off the train.

Prices for “The Party” start at £3,760 (approximately $4,845) per person, which includes a one-night stay at Belmond Hotel Cipriani in a Garden View Room, the celebratory party, a stay in a twin cabin on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, and all drinks, table d’hote meals and entertainment aboard the train.

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express travels throughout Europe from March to November, and the train embarks on the iconic journey to Istanbul once a year. The 2020 season sees the addition of three new Grand Suites on the train – each with 24-hour butler service, free flowing champagne and a private en-suite bathroom – named for the cities that inspired the design: Vienna, Budapest and Prague.

The event is being curated in partnership with Private Drama Events. Private Drama Events is a leading UK creator of luxury experiences and collective of storytellers (www.privatedramaevents.com @privatedramaevents).

Belmond Ltd., part of the world’s leading luxury group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, has been a pioneer of luxury travel for more than 40 years, building a passion for authentic escapes into a portfolio of one-of-a-kind experiences in some of the world’s most inspiring and enriching destinations. 

Since the acquisition of the iconic Hotel Cipriani in Venice in 1976, Belmond has continued to push industry boundaries, taking discerning global travellers on surprising and unforgettable journeys spanning land, water, adventure and relaxation, with international acclaim. The portfolio of 46 properties extends across 24 countries, encompassing three luxury safari lodges, two river cruises, seven luxury trains (including the iconic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express) and the legendary ‘21’ restaurant in New York. From historic city landmarks like Belmond Cadogan Hotel and Belmond Copacabana Palace to hidden retreats at Belmond Cap Juluca and Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor, each incomparable property has its own timeless story to tell, yet the hallmarks of the brand thread through them all: heritage, craftsmanship and a reputation for genuine, unscripted service in an unrivalled location, creating exceptional experiences that stir the soul. www.belmond.com

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Pullman Rail Journeys Opens Reservations for Chicago-Florida New Years Holiday Special

Traveling in first-class rail style, the special trip will depart Chicago’s famed Union Station in meticulously restored Pullman cars the evening of Dec. 27, arriving at its southernmost stop of Miami the evening of Dec. 29.
Traveling in first-class rail style, the special trip will depart Chicago’s famed Union Station in meticulously restored Pullman cars the evening of Dec. 27, arriving at its southernmost stop of Miami the evening of Dec. 29.

CHICAGO – Pullman Rail Journeys is bringing back the era of grand rail journeys with an exclusive one-time holiday itinerary from Chicago to the “Sunshine State” for a New Year’s celebration.

Traveling in first-class rail style, the special trip will depart Chicago’s famed Union Station in meticulously restored Pullman cars the evening of Dec. 27, arriving at its southernmost stop of Miami the evening of Dec. 29. The return journey departs for Chicago from South Florida beginning the morning of Jan. 2, 2015. Riding the legendary Capitol Limited to Washington, D.C.and Silver Meteor along the East Coast routes, historic menus will be served with renowned Pullman service for a timeless rail travel experience.

“We continue to see great demand for our regular service between Chicago and New Orleans and 2014 has been a banner year for nostalgic train travel,” shares Edwin E. Ellis, president of Pullman Rail Journeys and its parent company Iowa Pacific Holdings. “What better way to ring in 2015 than with an epic train trip to escape the cold paired with iconic Florida hotels.”

Luxury hotel packages at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort in Orlando, the Chesterfield Palm Beach and The Biltmore Hotel in Miami are available as well as a rail-only option.

Onboard Accommodations

All interiors are fully restored in the original Pullman style. The basic streamlined room accommodations feature one large picture window with exterior views out one side of the train. The open sections have a large picture window with the advantage of being able to look across the aisle out the other side of the train.

Standard cars are configured with open sections, compartments and drawing rooms with double windows. Bedrooms have a single window with a view out one side of the train. Pullman accommodations feature premium white linens and each bed has custom recreated Pullman blankets and blue-stripe towels.

Dining and Entertainment

Meals are served in the Lounge and Dining Cars with the option for room service included in fare. Signature dishes include Railroad French Toast, Fresh Greens with Illinois Central Dressing or Pullman Vinaigrette, Roast Beef Tenderloin with Madeira Demi-Glace and a Fresh Strawberry Parfait. A full range of soft drinks, coffee, local Chicago and New Orleans beers as well as a selection of red, white and sparkling wines and premium spirits are included in the fare.

Guests socialize with fellow passengers in the Club, Observation and Dining Cars, enjoying onboard entertainment on select departures. A current selection of newspapers, magazines and board games are available in the Pullman Library in the Lounge Car as well as DVDs and a collection of classic books.

Following his passion of reviving the elegance and refinement of rail travel, Edwin E. Ellis resurrected the classic rail brand in 2012 after rescuing and refurbishing a collection of Pullman cars dating back as far as 1917.  Renowned for its stylish Art-Deco design, plush accommodations and superb service from attentive porters and stewards, each car has been carefully restored to its original splendor with modern enhancements to offer the public an authentic heritage travel experience-one that their parents or grandparents would have enjoyed.

Hotel Packages

Once in Florida, passengers can take advantage of a hotel package:

Grand Floridian (Orlando): Package begins at $4,198 per person, based on double occupancy and includes three-day Park Hopper pass, Grand Floridian Garden View Room, three meals and two snacks per person per night and a Magic Your Way Platinum Package including unlimited use of select recreation including golf, Cirque du Soleil LaNouba admission, fireworks cruise and reserved seating at Disney’s Hollywood Studios ® Fantasmic, a select spa treatment as well as round-trip transfers between the train station to the hotel.

Chesterfield (Palm Beach): Package begins at $2,497 per person, based on double occupancy and includes New Year Champagne and Dreams Package with a five-course New Year’s Eve Gala dinner for two in the Leopard Lounge, champagne toast at midnight and New Year’s Eve Day brunch. Daily breakfast and round-trip town car transfer between the hotel and train station are included.

The Biltmore (Coral Gables): Package begins at $2,737 per person, based on double occupancy and includes the New Year’s Gala and dinner along with daily breakfast and round-trip sedan transfers between the hotel and train station.

A round-trip rail-only package begins at $2,408 per person, based on double occupancy.

Chicago-based Pullman Rail Journeys is an independently-owned operator of first-class passenger service. Featuring artfully restored vintage rail cars, Pullman’s regular scheduled service operates between Chicago and New Orleans via the Illinois Central line. Parent company Iowa Pacific Holdings, LLC (IPH), is the owner of the largest number of original Pullman cars in the world, with approximately 70 cars in various stages of restoration and service. Pullman Rail Journeys seeks to provide the same authentic experience of the golden era of rail travel with their Art Deco design, luxury accommodations and superb service.

For more information on packages, visit www.TravelPullman.com/packages/fun-in-the-sun, call 888-978-5563 or a travel agent.

 

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Rhode Island’s Marvelous Attractions, Festivals Are Easily Reached by Train, Bus

WaterFire Providence, taking place Sept. 27, Oct. 11, 25, is described as "a unique and beautiful artistic installation" by Barnaby Evans - but that does not even begin to describe how spectacular. Now in its 20th year, WaterFire features braziers placed along the middle of the Providence River and set aflame, music, artistic performers, food and drink and brings both locals and visitors out to celebrate the city © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WaterFire Providence, taking place Sept. 27, Oct. 11, 25, is described as “a unique and beautiful artistic installation” by Barnaby Evans – but that does not even begin to describe how spectacular. Now in its 20th year, WaterFire features braziers placed along the middle of the Providence River and set aflame, music, artistic performers, food and drink and brings both locals and visitors out to celebrate the city © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In a time when the challenges of air travel only seem to become more complex and automobile travel more frustrating, the allure of train travel grows. Trains are easy on/off, allow continual WiFi use, have excellent on-time performance, and are affordable.

And now, you can reach one of the most sensational getaway destinations on the planet via passenger rail: Amtrak to Rhode Island.

Amtrak services Rhode Island via two routes: The high-speed Acela travels daily between Boston, New Haven, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC. The Northeast Regional includes those cities as well as smaller stations such as Kingston, RI, in the southern half of the state, close to the beaches and Newport.

Once in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority’s system of trolleys and buses makes navigating the entire state a breeze, especially the cities of Providence and Newport (see bus directions below to each destination) – not to mention superb biking (one of our favorite bike trails is the East Bay, which goes from Providence 14.5 miles, hugging the shores of Narragansett Bay to Bristol).

And Rhode Island’s great fall festivals and foliage excursions make visiting at this time of year all the more memorable. The great food scene here, from high-end, nationally-award-winning restaurants to waterside seafood shacks, is allure all by itself, and will only make your stay more enjoyable, no matter what your taste.

Making Connections

Getting around Providence is a snap, not just because it’s an eminently walkable city, but because RIPTA’s system of tourist-friendly public transportation is fantastic. RIPTA’s hub is located in Kennedy Plaza in the center of downtown Providence, a 5 minute walk from the train station. Check out the dozens of routes at www.ripta.com.

Getting to Newport is even easier. Regular bus service runs between Providence, Kennedy Plaza  and Newport’s Gateway Center. Buses leave every 30 minutes.

Once in Newport getting around via public transportation is easy too! Newport’s public transportation hub is the Visitors Information Center at 23 America’s Cup Avenue in downtown Newport. RIPTA provides trolley and bus service to attractions throughout Newport, including the mansions, Cliff Walk, Beaches, Fort Adams, Downtown Newport, the Gateway Center, and more.  Van/car service is available from the Kingston station to Newport. Call (401) 295-1100 for information and reservations (required).

Riders can buy a day pass or pay as they go directly from the bus driver. RIPTA riders pay just $2 for all-day parking at the Visitors Information Center and receive discounts to many area attractions, including mansion and harbor tours.  For more information call: 401-781-9400 or log on to RIPTA.com or see specific schedules here:

Route 60 (Providence/Newport)
Route 63 – Purple Line (Broadway/Middletown Shop)
Route 64 – (Newport/URI/Kingston Train Station)
Route 67 – Yellow Line (Bellevue/Mansions)

 Not-to-Miss Fall Festivals and Events

Rhode Island Chinese Dragon Boat Races and Taiwan Day Festival (Sept. 6): The Blackstone Valley is one of the few places outside of China where you can experience these authentic and beautiful wooden dragon boats, made and shipped from Hong Kong, race. Boat crews consist of a drummer and 20 paddlers. The top team wins $10,000.  The day also includes other festivities celebrating Asian culture. School Street Pier, Pawtucket, 401-724-2200. www.dragonboatri.com

To get there from Providence: Board Bus 11 in Kennedy Plaza towards R-Line North. The 11 departs every 20 minutes. In about 24 minutes, you’ll arrive at the Pawtucket Transit Center. Transfer to Bus 78. Travel three stops to School and Beechwood streets. Take a right and walk five minutes to the Pawtucket Boat Launch. Total travel time 40 minutes.

The 9th Annual Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival (September 19-21):  Held in one of the most spectacular settings in America, Rosecliff and Marble House mansions, this remarkable weekend experience features hundreds of wines from around the world, fabulous food, cooking demonstrations by nationally-renowned chefs, live and silent auctions and a gala celebration. www.newportmansions.org

To get there from Providence: Board Bus 60 in Kennedy Plaza towards Newport. This bus departs every 20 minutes. In about an hour and 13 minutes, get off at Marlborough and Duke streets in Newport. Walk about a minute straight ahead to the next bus stop at Marlborough and Thames streets. Board Bus 67 and ride 9 stops to the corner of Bellevue and Narragansett avenues. Exit the bus and walk 5 minutes to Marble House. Total travel time is 1 hour 37 minutes.

WaterFire Providence (Sept. 27, Oct. 11, 25): A unique and beautiful artistic installation by Barnaby Evans, WaterFire, in its 20th year, is celebrated the world over. Featuring braziers placed along the middle of the Providence River and set aflame, WaterFire features music, artistic performers, food and drink and brings both locals and visitors out to celebrate the city. www.waterfire.org. (see slideshow).

To get there: Exit the Providence Train Station and make a left onto Gaspee St. Walk one minute and take a left on Francis St. Walk three minutes to the Providence River and the first viewing point for WaterFire, which starts at sunset.

International Polo Series (Through September): This royal sport has taken Rhode Island by storm. Polo matches take place every Saturday June through September. Spectators may rent tents or bring chairs and reserve space on the grounds for picnics. Teams competing come from throughout the world. Glen Farm in Portsmouth. www.nptpolo.com

To get there from Providence: Board Bus 60 in Kennedy Plaza towards Newport. This bus departs every 20 minutes. In about 55 minutes, exit the bus on East Main Rd opposite the corner of Glen Rd. Cross the street and walk about 10 minutes to Glen Farm Rd. and make a right. The polo fields will be 5 minutes down on your left. Total travel time is 1 hour 13 minutes.

The Jack O Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo (Oct. 2-Nov. 2): This annual festival features 5,000 artistically and intricately-carved pumpkins in all shapes, sizes and themes. Set along the pathways that lead throughout the Zoo, the lit-from-within pumpkins draw as many as 100,000 visitors for a part-beautiful, part-spooky celebration of the season. 1000 Elmwood Ave., Providence, 401-785-9450. www.rwpzoo.org

To get there from Providence: In Kennedy Plaza, board Bus 22 towards Providence. It will turn into Bus 20. Ride for 18 minutes to the corner of Elmwood Ave. and Carlisle St. Exit the bus here and the entrance to Roger Williams Park is directly across the street. Enter the park and walk 6 minutes to the Zoo. Total travel time is 26 minutes.

Newport’s International Octoberfest (Oct. 11-12):  This bona fide Bavarian weekend bubbles over with juicy bratwursts, yodeling and folk dance performances, a rousing entertainment lineup and more. This year, there will be three Biergartens and expanded outdoor courtyard space for endless amounts of festivities. A kid-friendly Kindergarten area rounds out fall’s choice festival as a place for the whole family to sample Oktoberfest’s multitude of flavors. All held along the beautiful Newport waterfront at the Newport Yachting Center. www.newportwaterfrontevents.com/event/international-oktoberfest/

To get there from Providence: Board Bus 60 in Kennedy Plaza towards Newport. This bus departs every 20 minutes. In about an hour and 13 minutes, get off at Marlborough and Duke streets in Newport. Exit the bus and walk straight ahead two minutes to Thames St. Take a left and walk 7 minutes to the Newport Yachting Center on the right side of Thames St. Total travel time is 1 hour 24 minutes.

Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival (Oct. 18-19): Honoring the “harvest of the sea,” the Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival offers copious amounts of seafood, continuous live music, and family fun, all beneath the wharf’s colorful tents. Neighboring restaurants and fisherman’s associations serve up their most celebrated seafood dishes (lobster dinners, clam chowder, stuffed quahogs, clam cakes, shrimp, scallops, raw oysters and clams, as well as a few dishes for landlubbers and kids). Under the music tent, live music – folk, Celtic, sea shanties and blues – are just a taste of what you’ll hear. Bring your dancing shoes, because these bands promise to get your feet moving! www.bowenswharf.com/events

To get there from Providence: Board Bus 60 in Kennedy Plaza towards Newport. This bus departs every 20 minutes. In about an hour and 13 minutes, get off at Marlborough and Duke streets in Newport. Exit the bus and walk straight ahead two minutes to Thames St. Take a left and walk 5 minutes to Bowen’s Wharf, on the right side of Thames St. Total travel time is 1 hour 22 minutes.

Blackstone Valley Fall Foliage Tour (Oct. 22): One of the most unique ways to see Rhode Island’s gorgeous fall foliage. Hop aboard the Blackstone Valley’s Fall Foliage Train. On Oct. 22 at 9 am the train departs Woonsocket for a day-long excursion to Putnam CT, where you can shop for antiques and dine. One Depot Sq, Woonsocket. www.tourblackstone.com

To get there from Providence: Board Bus 54 in Kennedy Plaza towards Lincoln. After 51 minutes, exit the bus at 113 Clinton St. near the corner of High St. Cross the street and make a right and walk one minute to Depot Square. Total travel time is 56 minutes.

New and exciting places to stay

The Urban Beach House at The Attwater, Newport

The Attwater is a design-driven boutique hotel with a chic and modern edge not often seen in historic Newport. Urban Beach House rooms feature “outdoor style” showers and a “sand lounge” gathering spot in the front yard of the hotel. Top-notch amenities and stylish comfort are the order of the day. 22 Liberty St., 401-846-7444, www.theattwater.com

The Dean, Providence

A brothel-turned boutique hotel, the 52-room Dean is an urban oasis for Downcity travelers. With a decidedly cool Brooklyn vibe (it was designed by Brooklyn-based ASH NYC), the hotel merges cool (there are bunk beds) with a homegrown aesthetic (many of the furnishings and accessories are crafted by RI artists). 122 Fountain Street, Providence, 401-455-DEAN, 401-732-3100. www.thedeanhotel.com.

For further information:

Newport Convention and Visitors Bureau, 23 America’s Cup Avenue, Newport, RI 02840, 401-845-9151, 800-326-6030, www.gonewport.com.

Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau, 144 Westminster St., Providence, RI 02903, 401-456-0200, www.GoProvidence.com.

Rhode Island Tourism Division, 315 Iron Horse Way, Suite 101, Providence, RI 02908, 800-556-2484, www.visitrhodeisland.com.

See also:

Cocktail Culture, Culinary Arts, WaterFire spice up summer visit to Providence and slideshow

Newport’s Gilded Age Mansions Provide Narrative to Women’s Rights Movement

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