Tag Archives: Eleanor Flagler Hardy

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):

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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.”

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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 tourdesk@irtsociety.com.

 

Stunning Sights, People, Trains on IRT Japan Rail Luxury Tour

1 Jun
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Cruise Train Seven Stars in Kyushu, Japan Grand Rail Tour grand finale — ©Terunobu Utsunomiya

“I love Japan,” said Owen Hardy, founder of The Society of International Railway Travelers.

Why?

“Because of its natural beauty, friendly people, ancient culture and the way people treat each other.

“If you saw “Our Little Sister,” a quiet, beautiful movie, the sisters take a little one-car train to attend their father’s funeral–that train captures the spirit of why I love Japan.”

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JR Kyushu’s tiny Sweet Train. Almost as popular as the Seven Stars, the Sweet Train is a post-tour option—provided we can secure the space. JR Kyushu photo

We’ve been trying to capture that spirit for dozens of Japan-bound IRT guests since 2014, when we began offering the Cruise Train Seven Stars in Kyushu, one of our World’s Top 25 Trains®.

And our travelers told us they’ve loved it. But one element needed a “private tweak.”

The family for whom I planned a private journey were positively ecstatic. “One of the best trips we ever did!” they told me.

So this year, I decided to build a private program: our Japan Grand Rail Tour.

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Kirishima JNTO Photo

I began by snagging two cabins on the Seven Stars for this October, a significant coup considering space on this exclusive train is offered to the general public by lottery!

So this year, the 4-day, 3-night Seven Stars trip will be shared with fewer than 30 passengers on the train. It will be our Japan tour’s grand finale.

The rest of the tour will be totally private.

Our guests will enjoy the finest hotels and ryokans (hot springs inns). Our Virtuoso partner in Japan is one of Asia’s best.

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Kyoto bamboo forest JNTO photo

The transfers are via private limo (not van or bus). Guests will have their own dedicated, private guide throughout.

And private touring lets you do exactly what you want.

Examples:

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Kenrokuen Gardens, Kanazaw JNTO photo

Say you want to spend more time at one of Japan’s most exquisite gardens, Kenrokuen Gardens. No problem. You can do that.

Say you want to enjoy a full day of wandering Kanazawa. Its quaint streets and narrow alleyways are charming, and a place where many Westerners don’t go. Our tour will allow that.

Maybe you want to spend more time wandering the canals, stone bridges and winding streets of Kurashiki, one of Japan’s old merchant towns. The choice is yours.

When you’re at the world-class Ohara Museum of Art, also in Kurashiki, you can see it at your own pace — fast or slow. Or skip it altogether.

The point is, every bit of our program is attuned to you.

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JR Kyushu’s diminutive, delectable Sweet Train shows off Kyushu’s charms. — JR Kyushu photo

Whether you choose the 10-day or 14-day program, you’ll feel the difference a private tour makes.

And either way, you’ll finish off your tour with the Seven Stars—one of the world’s most exclusive trains.

(And by the way, if you want to add a post-tour Sweet Train extension that appears on page 39 of our tour book: no problem. Like the Seven Stars, it’s wildly popular.

But anything is possible when you travel privately. I’ll give it my best shot to get you aboard!)

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Important Note: We have just two confirmed cabins — accommodations for a maximum of four guests — on offer for the Cruise Train Seven Stars in Kyushu. This is for our tour running Oct. 7-20 this year. If you are interested, call us immediately at (800) 478-4881 in the U.S. and Canada; (502) 897-1725, elsewhere. Or email us at tourdesk@irtsociety.com.

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