Hotel and leisure company Belmond has some big news to share—and some even bigger goals in store.
With a current global portfolio of 49 properties across five continents, the brand plans to double in size by the year 2020, aiming for a total of nearly 100 locations worldwide. This would account for the brand’s total number of hotels, river cruises, safaris and luxury rail businesses.
“We plan to improve and invest in refurbishments, as well as incorporate more brand awareness, who we are,” global brand communications director Samantha Strawford says. “All hotels are historic and have a story to tell, so we have to keep with that.”
Belmond’s most recent additions to the brand include Belmond Cap Juluca, Belmond Las Casitas, Belmond Andean Explorer and Belmond Grand Hibernian.
“This is a big project,” Strawford says. “And it fits what we want to do in the Caribbean.”
The Belmond Las Casitas marks the brand’s sixth hotel location in Peru. There are no expected renovations to be done on this property, located in Colca Canyon.
The Belmond Andean Explorer and the Belmond Grand Hibernian are the brand’s newest luxury sleeper trains, the first of their kind in South America and Ireland, respectively. The Andean Explorer launched this May, when it took off on its inaugural journey from Cusco to Arequipa. The Irish Grand Hibernian was launched last August.
Keeping with news on the brand’s line of trains, Strawford announced the renovation of the Venice Simplon-Orient Express, Belmond’s train that voyages across Europe. Set to be completed by March of 2018, this train will offer guests three new Grand Suites, complete private bathrooms with showers—something the trains did not have previously—as well as double beds and a living area.
The new suites are individually inspired by Paris, Venice and Istanbul: three cities that the train travels to. The new interiors will be designed by London-based Wimbley Interiors, with the haute couture and gastronomic elegance of Paris expressed through chic French furnishings, the opulence of Istanbul through hand-carved timber and embossed leather, and the grandeur of Venice through silk fabrics, hues of silver and grey and handcrafted Venetian glass.
The three suites will all be located in one carriage, with the possibility of reserving the entire car for a group. Guests staying in the Grand Suites will be able to enjoy private transfers to and from the train, where they will also be welcomed by their personal steward who will also be available for all on-board services. These include free-flowing champagne and private in-suite dining. There will also be extra amenities for travelers on this carriage, and a complimentary art-deco bathroom will be included.
Strawford says that the refurbished version will continue to incorporate the original 1920s art-deco design.
“It’ll be like traveling through Europe in ultimate 1920s style,” she says.
In addition, Belmond also introduced its first two spa cars this year: the first on Belmond Royal Scotsman in Scotland and the second on Belmond Andean Explorer. Launched in April of this year, the spa car on the Royal Scotsman train offers treatments to “connect mind, body and soul with the natural world.” One treatment in particular is the Bamford Bespoke facial: a 55-minute ritual aiming to “restore, rejuvenate and repair the skin through facial reflexology, lymphatic drainage, stimulating lifting and ancient yogic breathing.” The spa has two treatment rooms and is designed with sustainable wood from Scotland and the Cotswolds.
Adding to the Belmond line of river cruises, there are now two new barges that have been added to Belmond Afloat’s fleet. This brings the fleet’s total number of ships up to seven, all of which travel through French wine country.
Belmond also announced some new packages and activities at some of their properties, including the “Memories of Mandela” package at Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town, which honors late South African president Nelson Mandela, as well as the new Raymond Blanc Garden School at Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons property in Oxford, where art classes and theater performances will also held.