vsIt is now the Accor hotel group that is responsible. He has just taken full control of the Orient Express, the company responsible for building on the legacy of the mythical luxury train that took wealthy travelers to Constantinople (Istanbul) during the Belle Epoque. “The Legend Is Back”enthuses the vice president of the company Guillaume de Saint Lager.
He wants to renovate first “17 historic cars of the Orient-Express, in a completely imagined version of what this train was, both modern and art deco”.
A little history: when the historic Orient-Express (Paris-Istanbul) disappeared in 1977, Swiss tour operator Albert Glatt wanted to continue the adventure with a Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express, which sank while trying to go to Tokyo at the Trans-Siberian Railway. This train had fallen into oblivion until the historian Arthur Mettetal found it in 2015 in Poland, on the Belarusian border.
His 13 art deco cars were in surprisingly good condition. “No marks, very little damage. There have been copper thefts, but the Lalique glass panels, which are easily removed, were intact.”, Mr. Mettetal said in 2019. SNCF then owned Orient Express, whose brand it had bought from Compagnie internationale des wagons-lits in 1977. After long negotiations, it ended up buying the “Glatt train” . Meanwhile, the company had sold 50% of Orient Express to Accor in 2017. And it has just sold the rest to itself.
The first cars, entrusted to French craftsmen, will be unveiled on the sidelines of the 2024 Olympics
The “Glatt train” has been completed with other authentic cars from the interwar period, which will allow Mr. de Saint Lager to line up 12 “suite cars” (including a presidential suite with bathtub), a restaurant car, a bar car, a “conservatory car” and 2 service cars. Now is the time to fix them. And more than that, since he wants to “to create an interior that is impossible to date, completely at the confluence of art deco and contemporary”. A project entrusted to the architect Maxime d’Angeac, who will unite Lalique and wifi. “The passenger has to wonder when he boards whether it was made in 1930 or todayhe asserts. All technology will be hidden, you will not have a television screen in your room! »
The first cars entrusted to French craftsmen will be unveiled on the sidelines of the 2024 Olympic Games, he said, preferring not to talk about money. As for the commercial launch, Mr. de Saint Lager is considering it “early 2025”. “What is certain is that the start will be in Paris. And Istanbul will be part of the trip! »
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