Artist’s rendering of the Belmond Grand Hibernian Lounge Car
New York, NY — The Belmond Grand Hibernian, Ireland’s first luxury train, made its formal debut in America April 28 at New York’s Grand Central Terminal. The train is under construction; service is planned to begin August, 2016.
Authentic Irish music, draughts of Guinness and Irish Bell floral corsages underscored Belmond’s hopes for its newest “dream train:” a genuine, sensual, over-the-top experience of the Emerald Isle’s true spirit, both north and south.
The IRT Society joined a group of about 150 Belmond officials and representatives from the travel trade and press at a gala celebration in the station’s ornate Campbell Apartments.
As with the Belmond’s other luxury trains, such as the Royal Scotsman and the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, the Grand Hibernian will offer “land cruises,” with no need for guests to pack or unpack.
Blarney Castle, County Cork, Ireland
The tours will include all locally sourced, exquisite meals as well as “shore excursions” to castles, manor houses, distilleries as well as visits to exclusive venues normally not open to the public. It will also include all drinks throughout the program – including exclusive distillery tastings.
The six-night itinerary, the train’s longest, looks like a winner, if advance interest by guests of The Society of International Railway Travelers is any measure.
IRT chartered the Grand Hibernian’s Aug. 30-Sept. 6, 2016 “Grand Tour of Ireland” just last week, and already only three of the train’s 20 cabins remain unsold.
The six-night tour combines two shorter tours: a four-night tour of the Republic of (south) Ireland and a two-night tour of Northern Ireland.
“Ireland is the epitome of a comfortable, beautiful vacation destination,” said Gary Franklin, Belmond’s managing director, Trains & Cruises. “And Ireland has the element of romance.”
Franklin, a native New Zealander, fell in love with Ireland decades ago as a young man, he told his guests.
Giant’s Causeway, Antrim, Nortthern Ireland
In 1991, when he journeyed to Ireland to watch the rugby world cup, his team lost, but Ireland won his heart. The germ of an idea was born: the Grand Hibernian.
Last night’s events were mostly celebratory, as Belmond’s plans for the Grand Hibernian have been known for months. (Click here to see particulars.)
But following the reception, Yann Guézennec, Worldwide Sales & Marketing Director, Belmond Trains & Cruises, did divulge one important detail to IRT over dinner at his company’s famous “21 Club.”
The Grand Hibernian’s dress code will be “casual luxury” — neckties for men will be optional. Based on IRT’s over 30 years experience in the luxury train market, this news will be greeted with cheers by many (and perhaps shrugs by a few, this writer included).
“But the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express will maintain its dress code,” he quickly assured us. “That will not change.”
Download the Belmond Grand Hibernian’s three itineraries below:
Six-night, seven- day “Grand Tour of Ireland”
Four-night, five-day “Legends and Loughs”
Two-night, three-day “Realm of Giants”