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Top Five Reasons to Choose GoldLeaf Service on Rocky Mountaineer, Prestige Class on the Canadian

2 Mar
Rocky Mountaineer_River with train

Rocky Mountaineer. IRT Photo by Nora B. Elzy.

Considering Canada this year?

Go for the gold. Or, rather, the GoldLeaf.

Once you’ve experienced the Rocky Mountaineer’s double-decked GoldLeaf Dome service — as I did — you won’t settle for anything less.

Rocky Mountaineer_GoldLeaf Attendant 1

Youthful, energetic, and dedicated to their passengers: Rocky Mountaineer hosts serve drinks and snacks as they provide expert info about the passing scene. IRT Photo by Nora Elzy

Here are IRT’s top five reasons to book GoldLeaf on Rocky Mountaineer:

  1. The curved panoramic windows allow for 180-degree viewing and are unbeatable for spotting wildlife like bears & eagles.
  2. The lower-level dining area is like a swanky restaurant on wheels, with food to match. All meals and drinks on the train are included — and the chef bends over backwards to accommodate dietary preferences.
  3. The seats are utterly relaxing. I wish I could have brought mine home! They boast several seat-back positions and heating functions. You can even rotate your seat 180 degrees to make a miniature seating area for four.
  4. The wind-in-the-face, outdoor viewing platform at the end of the train is perfect for drinking in the fresh Canadian air — and maybe even spotting a moose.
  5. The friendly & energetic attendants, who point out landmarks along the way, offer snacks and beverages and are always on the lookout for wildlife. (Staff-to-guest ratio is higher than in the single-level cars.)
Rocky Mountaineer_GoldLeaf observation deck

Rocky Mountaineer Gold Class includes wind-in-the-face viewing from an open-air platform. IRT photo by Nora Elzy

(And for those extra-discerning travelers, kick your Rocky Mountaineer adventure up another notch and book our exclusive Ultra-Luxe Canadian Rockies Adventure, with all-private touring, transfers, & upgraded hotels.)

*******

I began my Canadian rail adventure with a totally different, yet no less luxurious, train: VIA Rail’s retro-styled, silver overnight classic, the Canadian.

Again, your most important decision will be to select great accommodations. In this case, that means booking VIA’s Prestige Class.

The list of Prestige Class perks is almost as long as the Canadian itself. Here are my top five:

  1. The large double bed and en-suite bathroom with shower;
  2. Unlimited free drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic);
  3. Reserved seating in the Park Car during peak viewing hours;
  4. 24-hour butler service;
  5. First choice for meal sittings.

For a full list of Prestige Class perks, click here.

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The Canadian’s classic diner sports such touches as charming Canadian birds etched in glass. Photo provided by VIA Rail Canada

The most important Prestige Class amenity for me was the exclusive access I had to the Park Car at the end of the train.

The lower rear half of the car boasts a well-appointed lounge with plenty of windows. The lower front half includes the Prestige bar with dedicated Prestige-only staff and ever-present snacks and beverages.

The upper level is almost entirely glass with — most important of all during high season — reserved seating for Prestige passengers. Watch the stars with an after-dinner drink and revel in the relaxation.

Sunrise on the Canadian - 1/11/11

VIA Rail Canada’s Prestige Class includes reserved seats in the Canadian’s classic dome cars. IRT Photo by Bruce Anderson

Finally, I can’t talk about the Canadian without praising the staff. Many are “lifers,” having worked for VIA for years. From their quirky Canadian humor to their quick assistance, I wanted for nothing during my journey.

My last suggestion might be most important: these trains book up fast, especially in peak months. So don’t delay.

For more info, click here for our journeys on Rocky Mountaineer; click here for our expertly-designed Trans-Canada Adventure that pairs the Canadian with the Rocky Mountaineer.

Email us, or call us at (800) 478-4881 (+1 502-897-1725 if you’re outside of the US/Canada).

Nora Elzy is a Luxury Travel Associate with The Society of International Railway Travelers. She joined our team in December, 2016. She is a graduate of Centre College. Nora most recently traveled with IRT to Italy and the UK for a memorable trip on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Among her other notable international travels was her study abroad in Japan.

Rocky Mountaineer Awes IRT Advisor — & Not Just ‘Bearly’

3 May
Rocky Mountaineer_GoldLeaf Attendant 1 REV

Rocky Mountaineer onboard staff are young, cheerful and knowledgeable. IRT Photo by Nora Elzy

“Bear!” someone shouted.

“Yea, right,” I thought, groggy from my early morning wake-up call. “Just another overly-excited travel agent.”

But then I saw him.

The shaggy, brown animal lumbered right outside my Rocky Mountaineer window, oblivious to his human admirers. I felt as if I could reach out and pet him—maybe even give him a good belly rub to wake him from his winter nap.

And that’s what’s so incredible about the Rocky Mountaineer. You’re in the middle of the Canadian wilderness while traveling in a cocoon of great food, service, scenery and conviviality.

And so it went for my two-day, one-night, all-too-short Rocky Mountaineer ride.

Two things stand out most to me about my trip to Canada last May:

• Western Canada’s scenery is stunning — just as advertised.

• The dynamic Rocky Mountaineer staff knows its stuff, whether it’s Canadian railroad history, animals and birds, or how to put folks at ease.

Rocky Mountaineer_River with train REV

View of the Fraser River from Rocky Mountaineer GoldLeaf Dome. IRT Photo by Nora Elzy

From the moment I arrived at Vancouver’s bustling station, I knew I was in great hands.

Once aboard the train, I was shown to my seat at the second-level panoramic window of my GoldLeaf car. Over the next two days, I’d see eagles, ospreys and — bears.

I was traveling with a group of N. American travel advisors, many of whom had never ridden a train.

I’ve traveled by conventional trains in France, England, and Japan — but never on a first-class train like the Rocky Mountaineer. Having joined the Society of International Railway Travelers’ in December 2016, I was looking forward to my first first-class train ride.

RM GoldLeaf rail car_exterior_Photo credit_Vincent L Chan

Rocky Mountaineer’s GoldLeaf Dome carriages offer great views. IRT Photo by Nora Elzy

GoldLeaf service is the train’s highest level. And as far as IRT is concerned, it’s the only way to go.

Why?

It’s a smorgasbord for the senses. For example:

  • SEE: GoldLeaf’s gigantic panoramic windows curve up to the ceiling, giving you a mountain goat’s-eye view in almost every direction; travel in late spring, and you might spot bald eagles, mountain goats, moose, and even black and brown bears, as I did, emerging from hibernation.
  • FEEL: GoldLeaf’s wind-in-the-face, outdoor observation decks — accessible exclusively for GoldLeaf passengers — bring you in direct contact with the Canadian wilderness;
  • TASTE: The fabulous, nothing-could-be finer dining room is just a short walk down the elegant spiral staircase. There, you’ll be served breakfast and lunch.
  • LISTEN: The typically younger, 20-something attendants are top-notch and constantly active. They take turns pointing out historic sites, scenic landmarks and animals. They also distribute all-included snacks and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic).
  • RELAX: GoldLeaf seats are utterly relaxing. You can adjust the seat backs to several positions and control their radiating heat. You can even rotate your seat 180 degrees to make a miniature seating area for 4 people.

(Besides GoldLeaf, there’s also the single-level Silver service, which is less expensive.  But don’t even ask us to book it for you. You haven’t come all this way to have at-seat, airline-style meals and no full outdoor platform.)

Rocky Mountaineer_GoldLeaf observation deck REV

Yet another reason to opt for GoldLeaf: Rocky Mountaineer is one of a handful of IRT’s ‘World’s Top 25 Trains‘ offering “wind-in-the-face” outdoor views. IRT Photo by Nora Elzy

Meanwhile, back in GoldLeaf, I absolutely loved the outdoor observation deck at the end of the car.

I was able to enjoy the full beauty of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains; the winding path of the Spiral Tunnels; and the beautiful, sometimes turquoise, snow-melt rivers along the way. If you travel in the late spring, you’ll have a great chance to see such wildlife, and — if you’re as lucky as I was — even bears.

In fact, there’s no bad time to take the Rocky Mountaineer. Should you travel in the summer or fall, you’ll still be privy to stunning natural scenery, whether that means more greenery, higher river levels, or stunning fall foliage.

RM GoldLeaf rail car_lower level_Photo credit_Vincent L Chan

Table setting in GoldLeaf Dome downstairs dining room. Rocky Mountaineer photo by Vincent L. Chan

All meals and drinks are included when on board the train. There are two seatings for breakfast and lunch in the elegant, downstairs dining section. I particularly enjoyed receiving a small menu at each meal with at least four choices from which to choose.

As a breakfast-lover, this presented some difficult choices! Pancakes or a freshly prepared parfait?

The Rocky Mountaineer also accommodates dietary restrictions, as long as you alert us at time of booking. In my case, that meant receiving gluten-free toast.

• • •

As if all this weren’t enough, the Rocky Mountaineer is adding seven brand-new GoldLeaf cars to its collection. Built by Swiss rail car company Stadler, four cars were added last month, with three more coming in 2020.

What’s special about these cars?

RM GoldLeaf rail car_upper level_Photo credit_Vincent L Chan

Big News! One of Rocky Mountaineer’s new, enhanced GoldLeaf Dome cars. Rocky Mountaineer photo by Vincent L. Chan

While all GoldLeaf carriages are fabulous, the new cars offer “dimmable” upper domed windows to moderate incoming light, redesigned galley kitchens to better aid staff with meal preparation, and enhanced ride quality.

• • •

So what does all this mean to you?

First: the Rocky Mountaineer is wildly popular, so the sooner you book, the better.  Book by the end of August to ensure you receive the best possible promotional goodies.

Second: the best itineraries sell out first. Rocky Mountaineer offers a dizzying array of options. Based on our 35 years of experience, we recommend one in particular: our Ultra-Luxe Canadian Rockies Adventure, with upgraded hotels and all private touring and transfers. It’s equally great for multi-generational family groups and vacationing couples looking for an extra-exclusive Rockies experience. Check it out here.

If you’re ready to book right now, click here.

You can also e-mail us at tourdesk@irtsociety.com, or call (800) 478-4881 within the U.S. or Canada. Elsewhere, call +1 (502) 897-1725.

• • •

Nora Elzy is a Luxury Travel Associate with The Society of International Railway Travelers. She joined our team in December, 2016. She is a graduate of Centre College. Among her international travels was her study abroad in Japan.

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