Tag Archives: Mahajaras’ Express

Society of IRT Wins Gold, Silver Travel Weekly Magellan Prizes

26 Sep
Italian_Nuns

A cheerful group of Italian nuns, returning from a holiday at Venice’ Santa Lucia Station, were delighted to see the gleaming Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.  They celebrate the fun of taking the train and its universal appeal. Poster design by Stephen Sebree; IRT Photo by Owen Hardy

The Belmond Grand Hibernian, Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, The Silk Road…the names connote mystery, romance and luxury.

And, artfully displayed as vintage travel posters, they won a 2015 Travel Weekly Gold Award for The Society of International Railway Travelers®.

The Society also won a Silver Award for its lavish, 100-page tour book, The IRT Society’s Best-Loved Railway Journeys.

IRT_Tourbook

“The IRT Society’s Best-Loved Railway Journeys 2014-2015” won a 2015 Travel Weekly Silver Award.

“The Magellan is the award to win if you’re in the travel business,” Travel Weekly says. This brings to 17 the number of Magellan Awards garnered by the Society.

IRT 2015 Hibernian Postcd LR

IRT celebrated the exciting news of the world’s newest luxury train, Ireland’s Belmond Grand Hibernian, with this poster.  Service is scheduled to begin in August, 2016. Poster design by Stephen Sebree; Photo courtesy of Blarney Castle, Ireland.

The Society shared the honor with such industry leaders as Lindblad Expeditions, Seabourn, National Geographic and Micato Safaris.

“From design to marketing to services, The Travel Weekly Magellan Awards honor the best in travel and salutes the outstanding travel professionals behind it all,” the award sponsors said. “It’s the Oscars of the travel industry.”

MGW Logo copyThe Society of International Railway Travelers® salutes graphic artist Stephen Sebree, owner of Moonlight Graphic Works, who has been collaborating with IRT Society Founder and CEO Owen Hardy for 32 years.

“Steve’s vision and creativity perfectly capture the mystery and romance of luxury rail travel,” Hardy said. “He has been integral to our success.”

Below, we proudly display several of the other winning Gold Award entries.

IRT 2015 Silk Rd Postcd LR

The Society of IRT celebrated its 30th anniversary with the 3-week, 2-train extravaganza, “The Silk Road,” stretching from Beijing through Central Asia and ending in Moscow. Owen Hardy spotted this calligrapher while strolling through the Summer Palace in Beijing. Poster design by Stephen Sebree; IRT Photo by Owen Hardy

IRT 2015 Danube Postcd LR copy

Big news from Europe came last year in the form of the newly recommissioned Golden Eagle Danube Express as a true luxury train. IRT’s Angela Walker loved the new elegant feel of the dining room. Poster design by Stephen Sebree; IRT Photo by Angela Walker

IRT 2015 Maharaja Postcd LR copy

Keeping track of the world’s luxury trains is a full-time job.  IRT’s Angela Walker traveled to India to capture the magic. Poster design by Stephen Sebree; IRT Photo by Angela Walker

While wandering the streets of Florence, Italy, Owen and Eleanor Hardy heard this captivating violinist long before seeing him. This poster celebrates the beauty and humanity of travel on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. It has long held its spot on The Society of IRT's World's Top 25 Trains® list. Poster design by Stephen Sebree; IRT Photo by Owen Hardy.

While wandering the streets of Florence, Italy, Owen and Eleanor Hardy heard this captivating violinist long before seeing him. This poster celebrates the beauty and humanity of travel on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. It has long held its spot on The Society of IRT’s World’s Top 25 Trains® list. Poster design by Stephen Sebree; IRT Photo by Owen Hardy.

Wondering how you can get these beautiful posters and postcards? Unfortunately, they’re not for sale.

But they are given as small gifts to our guests. Please inquire how you can become one!

For more information on the Society’s luxury rail tours, as well as travel off the rails on other romantic icons such as the square-rigged sailing yacht Sea Cloud, please call (800) 478-4881 or (502) 897-1725; email tourdesk@irtsociety.com.

Railway Journeys 2011: “Wish Book” for World’s Top 25 Trains

2 Feb

Society President Eleanor Hardy on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

The 60-page, all-color IRT Society’s Best-Loved Railway Journeys 2011™ is out the door, and I must say, we’re proud parents. (Download a PDF copy here.)

New for 2011:

We hope you’ll love the detail and photographs — 85% of them are from our staff and members.  We also hope you love the reporting, the detail, the facts. Enjoy!

Once you take a look, please let us know what you think. Is it useful, beautiful, inspiring?

India’s Maharajas’ Express Joins World’s Top 25 Trains List

29 Nov
The Maharajas' Express

©The Society of International Railway Travelers Photo by Angela Walker

The Society of International Railway Travelers® is pleased to christen the newest member of its World’s Top 25 Trains list, The Maharajas’ Express. The Society announced the 2011 list for release Nov. 30.

The Indian luxury train began service in March and boasts 19 cars (excluding staff and generator cars). The train’s four itineraries begin and end in Delhi or Mumbai and include visits to such iconic locales as Agra, Varanasi, Jaipur and Jodhpur.

The MaharajasExpress brings to four the number of Indian trains on the Society’s list of World’s Top 25 Trains, a remarkable feat, said Society CEO Owen C. Hardy. “India has proven time and again its incredible commitment to rail — not just luxury service but service for the everyday person. Congratulations to the builders, owners and operators of the Maharajas’ Express.

Other trains in India on the World’s Top 25 List, returning this year, are the Deccan Odyssey luxury train, which offers touring from as far afield as Mumbai to New Jalpaiguri; the Palace on Wheels, a first-class touring train in royal Rajasthan, and the tiny Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in W. Bengal, which runs up to the hill station of Darjeeling, and whose remarkable engineering and history earned it UNESCO World Heritage status.

Meanwhile, Angela Walker, Vice President for Operations for The Society of IRT, recently returned from India and issued a glowing report about the Maharajas’ Express. Find her report here.

The trains on the Society’s World’s Top 25 Trains list come from all over the world, and just about every continent.  The Society welcomes comments on our list. It is based on extensive first-hand experience on trains the world over by owners, staff, writers and members, who evaluate them extensively upon their return from travel. “These trains are the best of the best,” said Hardy. “We salute them for providing amazing and adventurous experiences for those lucky enough to take them.”

The World’s Top 25 Trains-2011

(Note:  Trains are listed by region and are not ranked within the list.  * signifies luxury train; + means the train provides a luxury service option on board.)

Africa

Pride of Africa*

Blue Train*

Asia

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

Deccan Odyssey*

Eastern & Oriental Express*

Maharajas’ Express*

Palace on Wheels

Shangri-La Express

Europe

Bernina Express

British Pullman*

Danube Express

El Transcantabrico*

Flam Railway

Glacier Express

Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express

Royal Scotsman*

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express*

North America

Royal Canadian Pacific*

The Canadian

Rocky Mountaineer

South America

Andean Explorer

Hiram Bingham*

Australia

Ghan+

Indian Pacific+

Sunlander+

The Society of International Railway Travelers® is an award-winning publishing company and full-service travel agency and tour operator based in the U.S. and serving clients from around the world. To order a complimentary emailed PDF of the IRT Society’s Best-Loved Railway Journeys 2010, register on the company web site:http://www.irtsociety.com/.  To order the printed version, please contact the company for payment details. The Society specializes in luxury, deluxe and railfan journeys around the world.

The Maharajas’ Express: Live like Indian Royalty

29 Nov

The Maharajas’ Express calls itself “India’s most luxurious train.” Last month I traveled to India to see if the train indeed lives up to its claim. Almost immediately upon boarding the beautiful, new maroon coaches of the Maharajas’ Express, I knew it would. The luxury was obvious, and I knew it would quickly be added to World’s Top 25 Trains list issued by The Society of International Railway Travelers.®

The train was custom-built and began operating in March 2010, so I was keen on exploring every inch. I boarded at the Rajah Club and scurried around to peek into each of the four cabin types—from the smallest Deluxe Suites (at 110 square feet, still quite roomy for train cabins) to the Presidential Suite, which takes up an entire train car and comprises an unbelievable 5 rooms (two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a large sitting room). I was impressed with the large windows, beautiful furnishings, storage space, bathrooms with glass-door shower, fluffy towels and full amenities (all-natural soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotions).

But it was the dining cars that excited me most. The Rang Mahal (Color Palace) and Mayur Mahal (Peacock Palace) are the two lovely restaurant cars. Both seat 42 passengers and offer the same multi-course menu with the choice of either Indian or continental cuisine, as well as a vegetarian option. The place settings alone provide the royal feeling – gold-trimmed plates and utensils, all emblazoned with the elegant crowned “M.”

It is easy to see how the Mayur Mahal (“Peacock Palace”) dining car got its name, decorated beautifully in green, blue and gold. The chairs and window shades (which won’t be pulled until night) feature peacock feather designs, all accentuated by the silver mirror-style ceiling. Meanwhile, the Rang Mahal is bright and cheery in pink and cream, with an elegantly hand-painted floral-design ceiling.

The food is good, and the staff is great. Some of my favorite dining touches – a new freshly squeezed fruit juice each morning; made-to-order espresso drinks; and a lengthy list of “mocktails,” nonalcoholic fruit juices which were so refreshing after a few hours of touring in the heat. There is also an on-board sommelier readily available at dinner to recommend wines, liqueurs or other after-dinner drinks.

Throughout my “Royal India” tour, the off-train excursions enhanced the “maharaja” feeling—including sipping champagne while watching the sun set on the Taj Mahal; a camel cart ride to a remote sand dune for “sundowner” barbecue and drinks; an exhibition elephant polo match, with option to join in; high tea at the Laxmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara; dinner in the royal courtyard of Jodhpur’s Meherangarh Fort, with dancers and musicians, ending with fireworks. In fact, merely exiting the train is exciting, with local dancers, musicians, or animals — camels in Bikaner, for example — greeting us at each stop.

A few special touches on this train: the water filtration system makes all food safe and the water drinkable (although I did not drink the water, I did use it for brushing my teeth); wi-fi is available in all cars (this was intermittent on my journey, but could be used to send the occasional e-mail); and there is a variety of touring options. Suite and Presidential Suite passengers get private car and guide at each stop, but there is the option for any passenger to do this along the way (at additional cost for Deluxe and Junior Suite guests). There are also options to visit spas in many locations and golf in either Jaipur or Vadodara.

All in all, it is difficult not to feel like royalty after taking the Maharajas’ Express. It is only difficult to drag yourself away from the comfort of the train and the care of the wonderful staff.  We are delighted to welcome this new train to the Society’s distinguished list of The World’s Top 25 Trains.

All photos ©The Society of International Railway Travelers by Angela Walker.  Ms. Walker is the VP for Operations for The Society of International Railway Travelers® and has reviewed trains all over the world, including the Royal Scotsman, Glacier Express, Bernina Express, Royal Canadian Pacific, Rocky Mountaineer, Deccan Odyssey, Hiram Bingham and Andean Explorer and the Shangri-La Express.

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