Four new luxury trains hitting the tracks in 2017
With four first class trains set to hit the rails in the coming months it seems luxury slow-travel is catching up. Grace Smith and Katie Milton let you in on what to expect on-board.
By Luxury Travel magazine | Published #70, Winter 2017
The Presidential Train
Portugal’s iconic Presidential Train returns to the tracks in 2017 following its acclaimed 2016 debut. After a century spent transporting Portuguese royalty and politicians across the country, the Presidential Train was placed on display in the National Railway Museum where its old world glamour caught the eye of entrepreneur Goncalo Castel-Branco. Inspired to give the luxury locomotive a new lease on life, Castel-Branco relaunched the train to run daylong journeys and one-off culinary experiences. In May the train will host a completely redesigned experience – a culinary and viticultural exploration of the scenic Douro Valley. The nine-hour journey departs the 100 year old Sao Bento station in Porto and will transport guests to the private Quinta do Vesuvio property for a tour and port wine tasting with a gourmet lunch prepared by a Michelin-star chef on board.
Just 34 passengers at a time will experience the luxury of Japan’s exclusive Shiki Shima train. Created by the award-winning Ferrari designer Ken Kiyoyuki Okuyama, Shiki Shima will launch in May with a handful of one- to four-day itineraries in northern Japan. The train’s 10 cars comprise 17 spacious double-storey suites, each with their own bathroom. There is also a shared lounge and gourmet dining room, plus two glass-walled observatory cars. Bookings are by application only and are now open for departures in 2017 and 2018.
Belmond Andean Explorer
Travellers will be able to embark on overnight journeys through the Peruvian countryside when South America’s first luxury sleeper train launches in May. Sister to the Belmond Hiram Bingham, the Belmond Andean Explorer will host up to 48 passengers on a range of one- and two-night itineraries throughout Cusco, Puno and Arequipa with exclusive off-train itineraries. Wake to the sunrise across Lake Titicaca, explore the ancient Sumbay Caves and, back on board, sample a seasonal Peruvian menu put together by Diego Muñoz and chefs of Belmond Hotel Monasterio.
Twilight Express Mizukaze
With tickets only available for purchase in Japan and no English-language service on board, the Twilight Express Mizukaze is not for the amateur traveller. Carrying on the tradition of the original Twilight Express that was discontinued in 2015, the 10-coach sleeper train will offer a selection of overnight routes through western Japan when it launches in June, visiting Kyoto, Osaka and the Sea of Japan, with cultural off-train activities. On board, guests can take in the passing landscape from the observation car and enjoy Japanese cuisine planned by food columnist Takeshi Kadokami and prepared by top chefs Yoshihiro Murata and Hajime Yoneda.
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Weather to go
From March to May and September to November, Japan experiences little rainfall, clear weather and mild temperatures. These spring and autumn periods are also known for their blooming cherry blossoms and autumn leaves respectively. Summer is to be avoided in big cities, especially Tokyo, as the weather is hot and humid. Winter provides Japan’s famous powder skiing, at its peak between December and February.
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