IRT’s Eleanor Hardy Named Condé Nast Traveler ‘Top Travel Specialist’

24 Mar

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The Society of International Railway Travelers® (IRT) is thrilled to announce that IRT President Eleanor Flagler Hardy has been named a 2020 World’s Top Travel Specialist by Condé Nast Traveler magazine (CNT).

“I am speechless,” Eleanor told me, uncharacteristically. “I don’t know what to say.”

OK, I’ll say it (even as I admit I am her husband):


Eleanor on the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express for IRT’s 25th anniversary trip from Vladivostok to Moscow. IRT Photo by Owen Hardy

Eleanor has devoted her professional life to the welfare and happiness of her worldwide list of clients, many of whom call her a friend. This official and prestigious recognition is highly deserved.

Eleanor began her professional life as a newspaper reporter – the kind who won’t take “no” for an answer.

She began working for IRT as soon as Rachel, our second daughter and now IRT Vice President, Sales & Marketing, started second grade.

While I published our IRT magazine, Eleanor took charge of our new travel planning department.

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Eleanor with staff of first journey of the Belmond Grand Hibernian IRT Photo by Owen Hardy

She never looked back.

Within several years, we joined the Virtuoso luxury travel consortium, at Eleanor’s urging. This immediately gave IRT access to the world’s top travel partners.

Meanwhile, she logged millions of miles, on every continent except Antarctica, gaining a deep knowledge of the world’s top luxury trains.

Eleanor’s luxury train “information bank,” coupled with her naturally outgoing personality, are gold for IRT and our clients.

Want the lowdown on sleeping car berths on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Rovos Rail or the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express?

Need info on where to stay in Moscow, Madrid or Lima?

Want the best guide ever in Berlin, Vancouver or Vienna?

Eleanor’s your go-to travel guru.

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Eleanor prepares to travel to Machu Picchu aboard the Belmond Hiram Bingham. IRT Photo by Owen Hardy

But should people really be thinking about their future travel, given the current world health crisis?

“Ironically, there isn’t a better time,” Eleanor says.

What places do you want to visit?  Which of our World’s Top 25 Trains do you want to ride — or ride again? She says now is the time to be thinking about this for 2021 and 2022.

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Pisco sour in hand, Eleanor toasts her trip to Peru’s Machu Picchu aboard the Belmond Andean Explorer. IRT Photo by Owen Hardy

“Now’s the time to keep dreaming — and to start making those plans,” Eleanor says. “Because I guarantee you, when this crisis ends — and it will — there will be a surge like you wouldn’t believe.”

“Get at the front of the line,” advises this Condé Nast Traveler 2020 Top Travel Specialist. “Let’s start planning now. We will be here when you are ready.”


IRT Society President Eleanor Hardy on the VSOE. IRT Photo by Owen Hardy

For a complimentary, 15-minute appointment with Eleanor, call (800) 478-4881 (+1 502-897-1725 if outside the US/Canada), or email [email protected].


12 Responses to “IRT’s Eleanor Hardy Named Condé Nast Traveler ‘Top Travel Specialist’”

  1. Thomas Hardy March 24, 2020 at 9:21 AM #

    Well, as her brother-in-law, I must say I am so proud of this latest award. Often, my wife Tayebeh and I, have asked her advise on travel plans and she never fails to deliver the insider information that we need. I was on the first reincarnation of the Orient Express from Paris to Istanbul and I had a glorious time! On top of the already opulent accommodations that we enjoyed on that trip, Eleanor and Owen rolled out another red carpet that made me feel like a dignitary from a previous era. It was their incredible hospitality and behind-the-scenes attention to all of the details that made for a trip I will never forget. A champagne toast to Eleanor my dear sister-in-law for all that she has accomplished.

    • Owen C. Hardy March 24, 2020 at 11:04 AM #

      Tom: The following is from Eleanor, not me! Your “Dear Brother Owen”: Greetings from IRT, Tom! Thank you for all of your encouragement. As you know, our Luxury train company is the brainchild of your dear brother Owen. He’s the true genius behind the operation — And our entire team works together to make it all happen. So we are all very proud of this today. It’s not just my honor but Owens’s and the entire team. Thanks.

  2. WALLY DREW March 24, 2020 at 10:30 AM #


    • Owen C. Hardy March 24, 2020 at 11:02 AM #

      Thank you so very much Mr. Drew!
      We have the most wonderful clients in the world. Thank you for being one of them. And also this is of course an honor for our entire team. Thank you so much for your comments.

  3. Sharon Weckenbrock March 24, 2020 at 12:04 PM #

    Way to go Eleanor! Looking forward to more fun travel in the future,

    Sherry and Jim Weckenbrock

    • Owen C. Hardy March 25, 2020 at 4:47 AM #

      Hi Sherry and Jim! Eleanor here thanking you for your warm wishes. Your loyalty and dozens of referrals have help make us the successful agency we are, even through these hard times. We send happy wishes to you! 🚂

  4. Hallette Richards March 24, 2020 at 2:39 PM #

    Congratulations Eleanor on your well deserved award.
    Much love
    Hallette xx

    • Owen C. Hardy March 25, 2020 at 4:49 AM #

      Dear Hallette — You are a doll to write! I’ve been thinking about you and hoping that you’re OK. And that life in Tenerife is still beautiful, and you in particular are staying safe. ❤️ Eleanor and Owen

  5. Karen Hyatt March 24, 2020 at 3:42 PM #

    Well deserved. Eleanor has planned several wonderful trips for my husband and me in lots of exotic places around the world. Looking forward to many more adventures.

    • Owen C. Hardy March 25, 2020 at 4:50 AM #

      Thank you so much Karen! It’s been a pleasure to plan every single one of them. As I said, keep on dreaming right now. Good times to travel will be coming before you know it. ❤️

  6. Jay and Carol Bowditch March 25, 2020 at 2:58 PM #

    Eleanor, We are delighted to hear of your award. We are not surprised. the trips you have planned for us have been incredible. And your encouragement to “go for it” even with my limited mobility was just what we needed. Kudos to you and your staff.

    • Owen C. Hardy March 25, 2020 at 3:08 PM #

      Dear Jay and Carol: you are so dear to write! Thank you so much. It is wonderful clients like yourselves that has made our company successful. It’s so fun for me and our team to work with guests like you who are so enthusiastic, interested in everything, kind, and fun. And guess what else we learned today? Our brand-new grandson just this minute arrived! 10:47 Delhi time. 9.2 pounds. All is well.

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