Rocky Mountaineer has added an extra four-weeks to the inaugural season of its Rockies to the Red Rocks itinerary in the United States, scheduled to launch in mid-August 2021.
The positive outlook for the US route does however coincide with less encouraging news for its primary business out of its Vancouver headquarters, with the Canadian luxury train company responding to “continuing travel restrictions and uncertainty” by postponing its 2021 program in Western Canada, now until 1 June.
The fresh updates come as Rocky Mountaineer confirmed the departure of its President for the past 5 and-a-half years (and CEO for the past two years), Steve Sammut, last week.
Sammut provided his two-month resignation to the team in January and over the past two months has transitioned the work to Peter Armstrong, Rocky Mountaineer’s Founder – more below on Sammut’s exit.
“The travel landscape is almost unrecognisable from 17 months ago when we last operated our trains, and much uncertainty remains around when the Canadian and provincial governments will lift the travel and health restrictions that make it impossible for us to welcome guests on board our Canadian routes,” Armstrong said in his capacity as Interim CEO.
“We are hopeful the vaccination programs underway in the United States and Canada will soon be sufficient, so we can get back to doing what we do best, which is hosting guests for an incredible experience onboard our trains.”
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Armstrong said the company has “high hopes” for the preview season of the route through Southwest USA.
“We are seeing a strong interest from travellers with some high-demand dates nearing capacity, and signs are pointing to a strong US domestic travel season for the year ahead.”
“After the challenges of the past year, we truly appreciate the support and interest we are receiving for this route. We are adding more departure dates for 2021 and adding rail cars to each departure, so we can host even more guests throughout the preview season.”
Rockies to the Red Rocks is a two-day train journey between Moab, Utah, and Denver, Colorado, with an overnight stay in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The preview season for the route will now run until 19 November 2021.
With some departure dates nearing capacity, Rocky Mountaineer is adding rail cars to increase the guest capacity on all dates and adding 16 new departure dates.
For guests affected by the delayed start to travel in Canada, Rocky Mountaineer is offering several options, including: providing a future travel credit equivalent to 110% of monies paid; holding its 2021 and 2022 rail pricing at 2020 levels; and providing a price guarantee for its vacation packages to ensure travellers can book a similar tour at the same price, once the present force majeure event has passed, even if third-party hotels or tour operators raise their prices.
Guests can choose to transfer their booking to the new route in the US, with an added incentive to return to travel on the Canadian routes in the future.
More information at rockymountaineer.com
President and CEO Steve Sammut departs
Sammut joined Rocky Mountaineer in 2012 as Executive VP and Chief Financial Officer. He was promoted to President in 2015 and to President and CEO four years later.
Under Sammut’s guidance, Rocky Mountaineer has modernised its business with new technology platforms, doubled its fleet of rail cars, achieved record guest experience ratings and grown revenues. He also led the process that identifed the Rockies to the Red Rocks route.
In a statement to LATTE, Rocky Mountaineer’s Founder Peter Armstrong thanked Sammut for his leadership over the past 8 and-a-half years, which included the “incredible challenges brought on by the pandemic”.
“The impact of the pandemic over this past year was unlike anything we had planned for, and it took steady leadership and unrelenting resolve to see our business through. We are grateful for Steve’s contributions through this tumultuous time and in establishing a strong foundation for the company’s future.
“We wish Steve the very best in his future endeavours and we send him off with the understanding that his positive impact will be felt long after he departs,” Armstrong added.
The recruitment process for a new President and CEO is currently underway.
Lead image: Moab, Utah | credit: Dennis Buchner/Unsplash