To me, the phrase “Orient-Express” is synonymous with luxury travel: train rides through the Veneto, 16th-century retreats in Cusco, exotic cruises along Myanmar’s Irrawaddy River. That's why I was so surprised to see that the company of the same name, which counts 45 alluring hotels, rail lines, and river cruises in its collection, is changing its moniker to Belmond starting March 10. According to the group, the decision was made in order to “strengthen our brand architecture” and “increase consumer recognition in the marketplace.” The ultimate reason? They never actually owned the name. The trademark had been licensed through SNCF, France’s national railway company, and the group felt that having a name they could call their own might lure more property owners to invest in the brand. Following the change, only the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train will keep its title.
I’m sure there are some challenges ahead as Belmond—Latin for beautiful world—strives for a spot in the lexicon of luxury travel. But from where I’m sitting, I don’t care what they call it, as long as Belmond continues to whet my appetite for that next great adventure (I’m eyeing that Irrawaddy cruise as I type this).
Jennifer Flowers is the Travel News Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.