THE Belmond Grand Hibernian, Ireland’s only luxury sleeper train, will be relocated due to the Covid-19 pandemic, its owners have said.
In response to the ongoing challenges presented by Covid-19, Belmond has been reviewing its global operations and has renewed its commitment to continually enhance its guest experiences worldwide,” the company said.
“As a result, Belmond has decided to relocate its Grand Hibernian train operation in the near term, revitalising its portfolio of iconic rail journeys.”
It did not say where the train, which launched in Ireland in 2016 after a bespoke refurbishment and offered two-night itineraries from €3,160pp, would travel next.
“The carriages that comprise the Grand Hibernian rake will be carefully stored and will undergo renovation works to preserve their unique character, whilst the interior design is evolved in keeping with the chosen destination, once known,” the company said.
“While it is too early to reveal the location of the new service, Belmond expects this operation to remain within Europe, where demand for immersive, slow-travel experiences of this kind is increasing and local and regional markets have proven resilient outside government-mandated lockdowns.”
On its launch, Belmond described the Grand Hibernian experience as akin to “travelling in an Irish country house”. Guests enjoying its silver service, fine dining, tweed fabrics and Egyptian cotton sheets were predominantly wealthy overseas visitors to Ireland – a client base wiped out by the pandemic.
Its en-suite cabins, dining car and observation car had been refurbished and fitted by a team of 40 skilled craftsmen at specialist outfitters Mivan Marine Ltd in Belfast.
Belmond’s luxury trains include the Venice-Simplon Orient Express, the Royal Scotsman and the British Pullman, all of which offer pricey itineraries aimed at high-end travellers.
In 2019, a two-night ‘Taste of Ireland’ tour hosted by Clodagh McKenna ran from €3,300pp on the Grand Hibernian, while six-day ‘Grand Tours’ of the island had prices beginning at €10,000pp.
“We want to take this opportunity to thank Irish Rail and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in Ireland, including Tourism Ireland, for the essential support they have provided since the Grand Hibernian journey launched in Dublin in 2016,” Belmond said.
“We look forward to announcing the details of a new world-class train service in due course and to welcoming our loyal guests back aboard.”