FRANCE: An agreement to exploit the SNCF-owned Orient Express brand within the global luxury hospitality sector was signed by the French national railway and AccorHotels on October 4.

AccorHotels plans to develop a chain of hotels under the Orient Express name, and is to acquire a 50% stake in the share capital of SNCF subsidiary Orient Express, which was formed in 2015.

SNCF will retain ownership of its Pullman-Orient-Express fleet of seven restored 1920s coaches, which Orient Express will operate for private tours and events, some in collaboration with AccorHotels’ other businesses such as Potel & Chabot, Noctis and John Paul.

The family of long-distance services under the Orient Express name, the last of which was a Strasbourg – Wien EuroNight service that ran until December 2009, is ‘imprinted in both history and imagination’, SNCF said. The brand name was ‘a timeless symbol of the art of luxury travel, steeped in culture, splendour and refinement.’

‘We are delighted with this strategic partnership, which today cements the alliance of two major French players in the world of travel for a shared purpose, that of giving fresh impetus and international standing to an historic and world-renowned brand’, said AccorHotels Chairman & CEO Sébastien Bazin. ‘Thanks to this partnership, our customers will be able to enjoy a prestigious range of services and exceptional experiences based on a portfolio of luxury brands.’

  • The Venice-Simplon Orient Express brand is owned by SNCF Mobilités and is licensed to Belmond Group for its luxury service.