Iarnród Eireann Irish Rail has sold ten unused carriages to Belmond and they will be transformed into luxury accommodation for up to 40 people. The carriages will be hauled by Irish Rail locomotives on the rail network.
Work will begin shortly to transform the carriages into a luxurious touring hotel on wheels with five sleeping carriages, two restaurant cars, a bar and observation area, kitchen and staff accommodation.
James Park Associates have been retained to carry out the interior design project. Inspiration will be drawn from Dublin’s Georgian architecture and elements of cultural heritage with a contemporary twist.
The Grand Hibernian will journey around the country and will be like a land cruise, stopping each day for guests to take excursions, play golf, visiting places of interest and shopping. Tours will include the Wild Atlantic Way, literary Dublin, Cork and Titanic Belfast.
Belmond identified Ireland as an ideal destination for their customers based on the success of the Royal Scotsman which takes visitors on exploratory journeys of Scotland. The inbound tourist demographic of Ireland fits with the company’s customer profile. Belmond also operate luxury hotels and river cruises around the world including the Cipriani in Venice and the Manoir aux Quatre Saisons in Oxford.
Journeys on the train are expected to be of two, four and six-day duration and all-inclusive of accommodation, food, beverages and tours. A similar train experience in Scotland, the Royal Scotsman costs from £8,920 (€11,400) per couple for four nights.
The Grand Hibernian will join a legendary stable of train experiences that includes the Venice Simplon Orient Express, the Eastern and Oriental in South East Asia, Royal Scotsman, Northern Belle, British Pullman in the UK and the Hiram Bingham in Machu Picchu , Peru.
Siobhan Byrne Learat, managing director or Adams and Butler, the luxury holiday company said they would have clients who would be interested in the Grand Hibernian. “The more five star international brands that come to Ireland, the better the awareness of our quality product”, she said.