All aboard the art train
Unveil the exceptional world of Belmond with our online magazine. Read on for great ideas, features, tips and more…
Unveil the exceptional world of Belmond with our online magazine. Read on for great ideas, features, tips and more…Now
All aboard the art train
Food & Wine
A Taste of the Eastern & Oriental Express
Ancient Blessings in Machu Picchu
Places to propose
Beneath the Waves of the Riviera Maya
Good Tidings at '21'
Britain's Tracks to Stellar Festive Fare
Helicopters and Horses in Botswana
Escape and Upgrade
New Year's Eve rocks Rio
Announcing Belmond Andean Explorer
The recent launch of Belmond Grand Hibernian witnessed exciting innovations for Belmond: the new curated art collection aboard Ireland’s first luxury sleeper train.
Step aboard Belmond Grand Hibernian in Dublin’s Heuston station and you are immediately plunged in among Ireland’s natural wonders. The walls of this new luxury sleeper train are decorated with striking artworks—Belmond’s first curated art collection—which celebrates the entire island’s rich heritage, contemporary culture and dramatic scenery.
Entitled Inspirations of Ireland, this diverse array of oil paintings, watercolours and photographs by eight contemporary artists, enlivens the entire train, from its dining cars to guests’ private cabins. Brought together by Belfast-born international art consultant Katie Kennedy Perez, the works have been selected for what are often surprising, and at times mysterious and unsettling, views of Ireland’s flora, fauna and landscapes.
Revealing Ireland's many facets
As Kennedy Perez explains, “It was important that the artworks have a strong sense of place, tell an interesting story and enrich guests’ understanding of the destination.” All are by artists with a special connection to Ireland, having lived and worked there for all or part of their lives.
As the train sets off through Dublin, guests’ eyes may alight on Amelia Stein’s black and white ‘The Palm House’ series, which captures the haunting beauty of the Victorian glasshouse in the city’s National Botanical Gardens. Its exotic vegetation casts intricate patterns, creating a world she describes as “strange and other”.
Wide vistas, powerful close-ups
Moving on into the countryside, the train’s two-, four- and six-night journeys weave the length and breadth of both the Republic and Northern Ireland. As they travel, guests can make connections between the artworks that surround them and the landscapes that unfold outside.
Photographs by Samuel Laurence Cunnane reveal unusual plants in the extraordinary, ever-changing light of his County of Kerry home. From sweeping vistas to dramatic close-ups, he describes his works as capturing “small interactions glimpsed in the corner of an eye” whose effect he then exaggerates.
Mick O'Dea's 'Departure' in Twin Cabin
Magic and mystery
Celebrated contemporary Irish artist Mick O’Dea strides outside with his easel to paint the seascapes around his home on the County Mayo coast. As he says: “The scene can look monochromatic and then the sky suddenly illuminates an area and the ridges become exposed—this is the magic that inspires me.” Most of the artworks on board Belmond Grand Hibernian reflect nature and places that can be experienced from the train. Dorothy Cross, however, transports guests to the remote island of Inis Mór off Ireland’s west coast. Her striking ‘Wormhole I-VI’ photographic series captures a bizarre geographical phenomenon—a rectangular water basin created by natural erosion.
Inspirations of Ireland lends a further dimension to the Belmond Grand Hibernian experience, illuminating unique aspects of this glorious, green country as it moves between its Dublin base, Belfast and Cork.
Recreate the flavour of a stunning Southeast Asian adventure in your own kitchen. This braised beef cheeks recipe from Executive Head Chef Yannis Martineau is the perfect way to capture the dining experience of the Eastern & Oriental Express for family and friends.
The rumble of the engine, the emerald haze of passing palms, the copper rays of the setting sun glinting off vintage brass… A journey on the Eastern & Oriental Express luxury train is full of moments to cherish, but the stunning cuisine served aboard is sure to be a highlight of any trip.
French-born Yannis Martineau has lived and worked in Southeast Asia for more than a decade, and served as the train’s Executive Head Chef for 9 years. He draws inspiration from his time in the region, taking traditional local recipes and infusing them with modern twists and European flourishes to stunning effect.
His braised beef cheeks are a great example of this gastronomic alchemy. The recipe is based on Bak Kut Teh, a traditional meat-bone soup that is very popular in Singapore and Malaysia. The dish is noted for its complex use of herbs and spices, including dong gui ginseng, cinnamon and star anise. Chef Martineau replaces the typical pork ribs with beef cheeks, which boast a rich flavour and marbled fat making them ideal for slow cooking. Accompanying sautéed apricot bao mushrooms and rich, creamy potato mousseline add an extra layer of indulgence.
Follow along with Chef Martineau’s expert instructions, and anticipate a dinner party pièce de résistance that is sure to be a talking point for many months to come. Download the recipe >
High above Peru’s Sacred Valley, beside the astounding Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, a ritual untouched by time calls on you to pay tribute to Pachamama—the Earth Mother.
The former Inca regions of Peru are lands shaped by tradition. Explorers here will find a tapestry made up of spiritual belief, mythic storytelling and an astounding sense of life. Nowhere is this more apparent than at Machu Picchu, a 15th-century marvel perched atop an Andean mountain ridge that remained hidden from the western world for almost 500 years.
Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, the only hotel found beside this phenomenal UNESCO World Heritage Site, now invites guests to connect with Incan heritage in a very personal way.
Pachamama, the Earth Mother, has long been one of the most revered deities among the indigenous people of the Andes. She is a fertility goddess with the power to give and sustain life. She is present in every mountain and rules over the planting and harvesting season. The wife of Pacha Kamaq, the Creator of the World, she is mother to Killa, the Moon Goddess and Inti, the Sun God—the most venerated deity of them all.
From your base at the hotel, you will meet with an Andean shaman who will lead you to the verdant gardens for a truly unforgettable experience. During the hour-long ceremony, you will prepare and present small gifts to Pachamama, including flowers, grains and candy. Natural perfumes will create a transportive aroma, and you will be led to sing in the traditional Quechua language. You will ask Pachamama for her blessings of health and prosperity, as the powerful natural energy of the nearby ruins fill you with vitality.
This unique, calming activity is a fitting finale to an escape that is sure to be packed with adventure, and promises to be a talking point for years to come.
Magical long nights, festive cheer in abundance, and a chance to reflect on a year of memories—it’s no wonder why winter is the most popular season to propose. Whether searching for romantic inspiration or hoping to spur your partner into action, we’ve selected some of our most spectacular ways to kick-start the rest of your lives together.
The Legendary on Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. The soft glow of the blush-pink table lamps, the sparkle of champagne, the magic of the train rushing through the night… Small wonder that the legendary train's vintage 1920s carriages have seen countless couples fall under their spell.
The Mystical on Belmond Road to Mandalay. Glide over 2000 centuries-old temples as dawn breaks over the sparkling waters of one of Asia's greatest rivers. Gaze down on the countryside awakening: farmers walking to the fields, Buddhist monks reciting their morning mantras as you begin your new life together.
The Laid-back at Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa. A table at the water's edge. Slip off your shoes and feel the warm, talcum sands. The sun goes down, the stars come out, and it feels like you are the only two people who have found this tropical paradise.
The Classic at Belmond Reid's Palace. A dinner à deux in a secluded area of the gardens sets an intimate tone. Other unique details, such as a violinist or guitarist, can be arranged to ensure a truly special evening.
The Magical at Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao. Lead your loved one by the hand to a table illuminated by the glow of hundreds of flickering candles. Cocooned by UNESCO heritage gardens, the soft sounds of live Lao music drifting through the air... What else to say but 'yes'?
From mystical cenotes and captivating caves to sun-splashed reefs and turtle-rich bays… We snorkel through the waters of the Riviera Maya and discover the beauty of an aquatic world just waiting to be explored.
There is a buzz of life in the jungle as the sun rises over the Yucatan. Its powerful rays have yet to reach the cool earth, and the air is rich with the sound of birds, insects and small mammals at work and play. We feel the sense of vitality, too, as we set off on our own adventure.
Two Eyes Beneath the Surface
We drive through jungle and traditional Mayan communities to our first stop—the Dos Ojos cenote. The Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico is built up on limestone, dolomite and other soluble rock that often collapses, exposing the pristine, mineral-rich groundwater beneath. There are hundreds of these sinkholes, known locally as cenotes, across the region. They were revered by the Mayans, seen as portals through which you could speak to the gods.
Dos Ojos is located near the temple complex of Tulum, its name meaning ‘two eyes’. The title is fitting, as the cenote is split into two pools. One is aquamarine and sparkles with external light. The other is dark, enigmatic and cavernous. Our early arrival means we get this sanctuary to ourselves, with our knowledgeable guide leading the way. Compared to the noise of the jungle above, the caverns leading in are quiet, with a single water droplet from a stalactite causing a faint, beautiful chorus all around. The waters are invitingly cool and, as expected, crystal clear. We snorkel along, using waterproof torches to illuminate the subterranean rock formations that the sunlight cannot quite reach. It’s easy to become aware of your own breathing; not because the swim is particularly arduous, but because the experience is quite literally breathtaking.
After a spell we are led through the narrow, winding channels that connect to the second pool. Although these tunnels are not completely submerged, the journey is quite tight—this isn’t for the faint of heart, although the journey is well worth it. The magnificent domed cave, high above our heads, is alive with hundreds of fruit bats, with just a small pillar of illumination from a hole in the centre. There is a playful chatter from every direction as we float, awed, in this natural wonder.
We head back out, but the day’s adventures are far from over.
A short drive takes us to the golden sands of Akumal Bay. Fringed by lapping turquoise waves and swaying palms, it’s a postcard image in every way. It isn’t just holidaymakers who have found a fondness for this dazzling beach; it is also popular with sea turtles.
Conservation and protection is, rightfully, important to the locals, and our guide gives us several important rules to follow: we can’t get too close to the turtles, we must not touch them, and we should always leave them clear routes to swim away. For the most part, they seem happy to share the waters with us, contentedly chewing on seaweed and occasionally, theatrically surfacing for air. We swim out quite far, on the hunt to see some of Akumal’s famed coral reef and its many colourful inhabitants. The encounter is one to cherish; unrestricted, personal and authentic.
After these fascinating guided experiences, we are taken to the nearby Yal-Ku lagoon to explore at our own pace. This magical domain is a mix of salt and fresh water, resulting in a hugely diverse range of flora and fauna to interact with.
We charter our own course in a circular direction, beginning with the fresh water, past large boulders and through the rock crevasses. We spot starfish and urchins, colourful parrotfish and blue tangs. Playing against their name, the small damselfish charge at you in defense of their territory. There is no harm to be had, but their larger-than-life tenacity is admirable. Heading round towards the saltwater, we swim against mangroves, seeing a whole new ecosystem of life.
All too soon, we step out of the lagoon and start preparing for our journey home. The sun begins its descent on a perfect day, but we have accrued countless memories—and, naturally, dozens of photos.
Your Beachside Retreat
After a day experiencing some of the best snorkelling in Mexico, a warm welcome awaits at Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa. Perfectly positioned between platinum sands and emerald jungle, this laid-back, intimate retreat is the ideal place to unwind and let time pass you by.
by Daniel Hayden
One chilly winter’s day in 1938, Salvation Army Band members played for diners at New York’s famed ‘21’ in what would become a cherished annual tradition. Now in its 78th year, we look back at the event’s humble beginnings, and explore how this festive staple manages to bring together friends and family time and time again.
It was a cold, damp day when Jack Kriendler, one of the co-founders of ‘21’, stepped out for a cigarette and spotted a lone cornet player on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street. Jack invited him in, letting him escape the chill over a bowl of hot soup. To express his gratitude, the cornet player bought other members of The Salvation Army Band to the restaurant where they played Christmas carols for diners. A hat was passed round for donations, and so, a tradition was born.
A Storied Legacy
One of the players on that very first day was Captain William Maltby. He returned to play for many years, and soon enough brought his granddaughter along. Debbie Maltby-Evans still plays at ‘21’ to this day.
“I was recruited by my grandfather when I was 14 years old, December 1969,” Debbie tells us. “In 47 years, there was only one day that I missed.”
“I admired the personality and talents of my grandfather. He was a man of God, a Salvation Army minister, who believed in extending the ‘word’ through music. I too believe these things,” she reminisces. “It is so easy to get lost in the world today. However, deep down within every person there is a strong sense of wanting to belong, and knowing where one’s roots are formed.”
Debbie acts as emcee for the 36 performances each year, leading band members and guests in song. She has performed for Jackie Onassis, for various presidents (Nixon’s security agents dismantled the band’s instruments for inspection before the show could go on), and even alongside Frank Sinatra on a duet of “O Holy Night”.
The Greater Good
The passing of the hat is an important part of the proceedings, and each year generous patrons donate upwards of $55,000 to The Salvation Army. This international charitable organisation works in 127 countries to help the poor, destitute and hungry. They run charity shops, operate shelters, provide disaster relief and humanitarian aid. It’s a true representation of the spirit of giving, which is most prevalent during the festive season.
“Many of the patrons know the work that The Salvation Army does for those in need in New York City, but many would rather see the ‘face’ behind the request for assistance,” Debbie explains. “It is the personal approach that people respond to.”
The Halls are Decked
When it comes to Christmas cheer, nobody does it better than ‘21’. “It has always been a great place to gather with friends and family, for good food and fellowship. The spirit of the season is felt as soon as you walk through the door,” Debbie enthuses. Aside from the yuletide atmosphere, diners can expect a choice of classic dishes; from creamy chicken hash and the award-winning ‘21’ burger to the timeless New York cheesecake and the warming Dutch apple pie.
“The key word is family. I am part of the ‘family’ at the ‘21’ Club,” Debbie adds. “I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t at ‘21’ for Christmas… It just wouldn’t be Christmas.”
by Daniel Hayden
‘Tis the season for fine dining. Indulge your inner gastronome and combine a train trip aboard the iconic Belmond British Pullman with a festive four-course lunch at Raymond Blanc’s two-Michelin-starred Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. A delicious brunch sets the scene on the outward journey, while a decadent dessert plus a Great British cheese board will be served on the trip back to London.
Onx Manga of Belmond Safaris in Botswana introduces a thrilling new Okavango Delta helicopter and horse experience.
A Belmond safari is all about discovery and adventure—and to get the most from it you need a great guide at your side. Step forward Onx Manga, Environmental Manager at our three Botswana lodges. Onx and his team are constantly on the lookout for exciting new safari experiences—and they have just come up with the ultimate combo: helicopter and horseback adventures from Belmond Eagle Island Lodge.
Imagine soaring up into the sky as a rosy dawn breaks over the delta’s lush waterways. With helicopter doors removed for maximum viewing, you swoop over palm-lined islands, grassy floodplains, forests and meandering streams that sparkle in the early morning light. Animals pattern the bush below: lion, cheetah, giraffe, wildebeest, crocodiles and more.
Where horses roam free
Swapping vast panoramas for wildlife close up, you land beside the Moremi Game Reserve. Okavango Horse Safaris has been operating here for some 30 years, building up a wealth of equestrian expertise. Now is the chance to saddle up and move silently through the landscape, roaming among the wild animals as they move around unconcerned. Cantering through shallow lakes and over uneven ridges, horses can cross terrain impassable by vehicles. You follow wild dogs on the hunt, accompany big cats as they prowl along rivers and keep pace with vultures as they circle over their next meal.
As the horse camp manager Duncan Over explains: “Our horses graze freely during the day, interacting with the wildlife without any human interference. This makes both the horses and wild animals—including elephants and buffalo—very relaxed with each other. Our stables include magnificent pure Arab, Anglo Arab, Fresian Cross and Botswana Warm Bloods—all well-schooled and a pleasure to ride.”
This exciting new adventure is just one of many that Onx and his team have pioneered. As he says, “No other luxury company offers this custom-designed safari experience as part of their portfolio of activities.”
Experts at your side
Onx and his team are among Botswana’s top experts when it comes to introducing the wildlife and the country it inhabits. Explore with them at your side and you’ll gain enormous insight into a world beyond your imagination. He will teach you how to spot game in what you thought were empty landscapes. Whether by helicopter or horse, by traditional canoe or on foot, you’ll learn how to track animals and—most importantly—useful tricks of the trade such as how to drink water from fresh elephant dung in times of drought!
Set out into the bush with Onx or one of his expert guides and you will discover layers of life that you could never even dream existed. Be amazed by the Big Five, be dazzled by the colourful bird life, but also expect to be riveted by the frenetic industry of a termite mound or the petals of a tiny plant. Onx trains all the guides at the three lodges so that, as he says: “Our team’s expertise ensures that we offer an experience that no-one else can give”. Fly high to the horses to discover exactly what he means.
Onx Manga, Environmental Manager
Discover a different way of life
Stop press: Onx has just launched another exciting activity at Belmond Eagle Island Lodge—a visit to the neighbouring Nxhoga village in the company of one of its residents. This fascinating excursion offers the chance to step inside a local home and to discover a way of life without modern conveniences and communications. Guests will learn how the community is administered and gain insight into local occupations such as fishing and basket-making.
Escape the everyday with Belmond and find extra space to spread your wings. Experience one of our selected hotels, trains or river cruises with our exclusive Escape and Upgrade offer and receive a guaranteed accommodation upgrade. Browse through just some of our beautiful options below, and find inspiration for your next getaway.
For those who cherish privacy, Premiere Bungalows at Belmond El Encanto are the perfect hideaway. Cosy up in front of the fireplace, or step out to a patio for views of the gardens or the sweeping vista of Santa Barbara spread out below.
Journeying through the breathtaking landscapes of Southeast Asia aboard a moving work of art, every trip on the Eastern & Oriental Express is unforgettable. However, State Cabins provide extra space to savour the experience.
One-Bedroom Beachfront Suites at Belmond La Samanna are brimming with elegant, Caribbean charm. Take a few steps outside and you'll feel the talcum-soft sands of St Martin's Baie Longue beach beneath your toes.
Just moments away from the breathtaking temples of Angkor Wat, the rooms and suites of the newly rennovated Belmond La Résidence d'Angkor offer an authentic Cambodian haven after an action-packed day of exploration.
Corks of Champagne Laurent-Perrier are poised to pop throughout the festive season and on into 2017 all around the Belmond world. Great occasions featuring this classic label are bubbling up over the coming months aboard our British day trains, including a series of special afternoon teas with Belmond Northern Belle. Or push the boat out with a cruise through the Champagne region on our new luxury barge, Belmond Pivoine, with tastings of both Laurent-Perrier and other celebrated wines.
Ring in 2017 at one of the world’s most thrilling parties: at Belmond Copacabana Palace beside Rio’s pulsating Copacabana Beach. Popping corks and a samba school parade herald fireworks at midnight and DJ sets beside the glamorous art deco pool.
All along Copacabana Beach, families and friends dressed in white gather by the ocean’s edge. Their numbers swell until the crowd merges into a single wave that surges back towards Belmond Copacabana Palace hotel. On the stroke of midnight, the starry sky erupts with fireworks, a dazzling display that inspires enormous collective gasps. Then, one by one, revellers cast flowers into the rolling waters in homage to Iemanjá, Goddess of the Sea. Hopping over the waves three times, they make wishes for the year to come.
At the heart of the action
Belmond Copacabana Palace
New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro, alive with tradition, is a truly remarkable occasion. Watching it unfold from the secluded intimacy of Belmond Copacabana Palace’s belle epoque balcony is what Rio party enthusiast Helena Jaudy describes as “a once-in-a-lifetime experience”—but one that she plunges into year after year. As she says “People fly in from all over the world to celebrate here, there’s a glamour that only the Copa has”. Much of the magic lies in the hotel’s unparalleled location. Set close by the golden sands, it overlooks the main event stage, enabling guests to watch international superstars and Brazil’s best samba bands from their own private VIP area. So close is the hotel to all the action that when the Rolling Stones gave their legendary show in 2006, Mick and the band descended from their penthouse suites direct to the stage from a custom-built bridge.
Step back in time
Then there’s the glorious sense of heritage that endures from Rio’s Roaring Twenties. Ever since the hotel opened in 1923 artists and starlets such as Fred Astaire and Frank Sinatra through to Gina Lollobrigida and Brigitte Bardot, have flown in and been swept up in its tropical fantasy.
Yet what keeps Rio’s well-heeled locals returning time and again to celebrate Reveillón is that no one knows how to throw a party quite like this palace by the sea. There’s a sense of stepping back in time, a fairytale frisson, as you walk the red carpet and climb the gleaming marble staircase to white-coated waiters serving champagne on the terrace.
Celebrate through to sunrise
While friends old and new dine on the extravagant cuisine arrayed in the hotel’s restaurants and grand salons, guests gather on the balcony ready to watch the midnight fireworks explode. It’s then that the evening really finds its swing, infectious energy ignited by a samba school—all trumpets, tassels and shimmering tail-feathers—that leads the party-goers into the Golden Room, arrayed with gigantic floral displays glimmering in the light of thousands of candles. A knockout live band keeps everyone dancing until the sun rises over the Sugar Loaf.
Meanwhile, down by the pool, a DJ spins sets for guests of the hotel’s three restaurants in a waterside celebration. ‘There’s a feeling of total happiness”, says Helena Jaudy, who met her husband at the hotel’s equally exuberant Carnival Ball. ‘The atmosphere is like a private party, where friendships are born. I say to all my friends, there’s nothing quite like it. It’s something you have to experience.”
This year’s New Year’s Eve celebrations at Belmond Copacabana Palace continue the decades-old tradition and spirit that make it such an exceptional occasion. A Gala Ball with a buffet dinner takes over the Noble, Golden and Reception Rooms; the Pérgula Restaurant hosts an international buffet; Ristorante Hotel Cipriani presents a six-course dinner and MEE Pan-Asian restaurant serves an exceptional tasting menu. All fizz into action from 8pm and continue into the small hours, with the firework display viewable from one of the hotel’s balconies. Great entertainment comes courtesy of the Haroldo Costa samba school and SP3 band. Dress in white and get set to party!
by Lauren Holmes
Launching in May 2017, Belmond Andean Explorer will be South America’s first luxury sleeper train. Anticipate one of the world’s highest railway adventures, surrounded by lavish interiors and savouring fine dining along the way.