Travel & Gastronomy

Belmond inaugurates a new rail route at the bottom of the Alps

Eva Morletto

By Eva Morletto31 décembre 2022

The luxury hotel group Belmond - now owned by the LVMH empire - has announced the inauguration of a new exclusive itinerary at the bottom of the French Alps in December 2023, aboard the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train. A strategic sector that the rival group Accor also intends to occupy with its Orient Express trains.

LVMH acquired the Belmond hotel chain in 2019 (Belmond)

The ski resorts of Albertville, Moûtiers and Bourg Saint Maurice will be among the train's stops: strategic locations for easy access to Courchevel, Megève and Mont Blanc. 

Since LVMH became the owner of the Belmond hotel chain three years ago, the luxury group has boosted its activities, which now include some forty top-of-the-range hotels, seven trains, eight boats that sail on French rivers, gourmet restaurants in more than twenty countries and the organisation of exclusive safaris in Botswana.

The acquisition of the hotel group by LVMH was finalised in April 2019 in a financial deal that valued Belmond at $3.2 billion.

This allowed LVMH to strengthen its position in the luxury hotel industry, already owner of the Cheval Blanc and Bulgari brands. Present in 24 countries, Belmond had, at the time of the transaction, a turnover of 572 million dollars and 8000 employees.

High-end hotels and in particular luxury trains are part of the diversification strategies of LVMH, which today has more than ever the means to enhance this sector. By 2021, the group had recorded a 44% jump in sales over the previous year to 64.2 billion euros, and had 13 billion euros in cash.

The Orient Express is not the only jewel on the Belmond LVMH group's railways. Among the luxury trains are the Royal Scotsman, which runs from Edinburgh through the Scottish Highlands, and the Belmond Andean Explorer, the first luxury sleeper train in South America: the train climbs to 4,800 metres in the Lake Titicaca region.

The announcement of the inauguration of the new Alpine route comes as a counter to the strategy of rival Accor, which is reviving the Orient-Express trains, breaking the monopoly of the Venice Simplon-Orient Express held by Belmond LVMH. Accor has in fact concluded the acquisition of six trains, ready for new tours in Europe, and has announced the rehabilitation of the most mythical of the trains for 2025, the Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express, which at the time linked Paris to the borders of Asia.

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