Belmond has outlined the blueprint for what it expects to be a “year of transformation” in 2024. Marking the close of 2023 with the acquisition of a 17th-century estate in Mexico, the brand is announcing plans for 2024 that include the selective expansion and enhancement of its portfolio with heightened focus on train travel, the development of new exceptional experiences and a deeper focus on its environmental and social responsibility.
“Long before experiential travel became a buzzword, Belmond, through our diverse portfolio of hotels, trains, boats and safaris, has offered one-of-a-kind experiences that are rooted in authenticity,” said Dan Ruff, CEO, Belmond.
“With our purpose to perpetuate the legendary art of travel, we will continue to push boundaries. 2024 will be a year of transformation as we further seek out remarkable properties, exceptional journeys and experiences, especially to cement our leading position in train travel.
“We will celebrate local culture, launch new experiences that connect our guests to the art of travel, curate contemporary culture and go even deeper with our environmental and social responsibility efforts.”
Reinforcing its cluster in Mexico, Belmond has acquired Hacienda Katanchel, formerly a hacienda dating back to the 17th century situated near Merida, Yucátan. With an expanse of 220 hectares, the estate is home to a cenote (underground river), a sacred well, native flora and fauna, and the remains of an ancient Mayan pyramid, in addition to the historic hacienda.
The rich and lush vegetation, the property’s history and the many vivid cultural expressions of the Yucátan peninsula all come together at Katanchel to create the setting for what will become Mexico’s one of the most beautiful hacienda hotels. Katanchel, A Belmond Hotel, is planned to open in 2027 with 35 independent suites upon completing a comprehensive restoration programme.
The acquisition of Katanchel strengthens Belmond’s commitment to Mexico, joining three other distinct properties: on the Caribbean coast, Maroma, A Belmond Hotel, Rivera Maya, re-opened in August 2023 following a complete renovation; in the country’s heartland, Casa de Sierra Nevada, A Belmond Hotel, a former convent built in the 16th century in San Miguel de Allende; and on the Pacific Coast, Milaroca, A Belmond Hotel, Riviera Nayarit, that will open in 2025 after being conscientiously and sensitively built from the ground up.
Belmond continues to strengthen its presence in Italy, where it operates ten properties. In 2024, Belmond will expand to Sardinia with Romazzino, A Belmond Hotel, Costa Smeralda. Sardinia’s original beach hotel will offer 100 guest rooms including suites and
villas, an array ofrestaurants and new experiences that invite guests to experience villeggiatura set in the heart of Costa Smeralda’s most picturesque coastline.
The multi-year renovation of Splendido, A Belmond Hotel, Portofino, designed by Martin Brudnizki Studio, will complete its second phase and re-open for the 2024 season with new guestrooms, joining the swimming pool, Splendido Grill restaurant and the Baronessa Suite that have been revealed in 2023.
Slow travel – new routes, new suites, new experiences
A trailblazer in slow travel experiences with a legacy of leadership spanning over four decades since the launch of Venice Simplon-Orient-Express in 1982, Belmond will propel its pioneering approach as it introduces new routes, new suites and new experiences across its six trains and seven barges in response to growing demands for more Belmond slow travel journeys around the world.
Southeast Asia’s legend of the rails Eastern & Oriental Express, A Belmond Train, announces the appointment of Chef André Chiang as its new chef. Having worked in some of the most decorated restaurants in the world, including his two-Michelin-starred eponymous Restaurant André in Singapore, Chef André will elevate and devise every aspect of the dining experience including the ambience and atmosphere of the two on board restaurants, Adisorn and Malaya.
Eastern & Oriental Express is set to return in February 2024 with two seasonal routes out of Singapore that take in the landscapes of Malaysia.
For the first time in its history, the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, A Belmond Train, Europe will embark on a new journey connecting two iconic destinations: Paris and Portofino; the sojourn will continue at Splendido where the train’s Chef, Jean Imbert, will host a Gala Dinner. Due to popular demand, the legendary train will also add a second Paris to Istanbul return journey, in addition to its regular August itinerary.
Its first alpine journey will head to the French Alps on 21 December 2023, and it will be repeated in December 2024.
Following the huge success of the introduction of Grand Suites and Suites onboard the train, eight new Suites will join the rake in 2024, bringing a total of 16 Suites and 6 Grand Suites to the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.
The Royal Scotsman, A Belmond Train, Scotland, will also see the launch of two new Grand Suites designed by Paris-based interior designer Tristan Auer in May 2024. The brand-new Grand Suite experience on board Royal Scotsman will include a pampering spa treatment per person in the lavish Dior Spa, which was unveiled in April 2023.
The iconic British Pullman, A Belmond Train, England will elevate its dining offering with the launch of The Carriage Club Dinners in May 2024, a series of immersive evening journeys combining decadent dining, fine wines and entertainment.
In Peru, the two Belmond trains, namely Hiram Bingham and Andean Explorer, the country’s first and only luxury sleeper train, along with Monasterio, A Belmond Hotel in Cusco welcomed Peruvian-born Jorge Muñoz as Executive Chef. In 2024, Jorge will unveil new culinary creations that tell the story of an exploratory journey through the coast, highlands and jungle of Peru. Hiram Bingham, the iconic train which has been taking guests on exquisite journeys from the Sacred Valley to the ancient city of Machu Picchu, recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.
The official launch of Coquelicot, A Belmond Boat, Champagne, in April 2024 will welcome guests to the latest addition to its fleet of river boats gliding across the scenic canals of France. Designed by French architects Humbert & Poyet, this intimate river boat features three cabins, an indoor salon with a bespoke champagne bar, and an extensive outdoor deck with open-air kitchen and dining area. Coquelicot will partner with Maison Ruinart to offer exclusive experiences. These include a four-hand private lunch by Maison Ruinart’s Chef In Residence, Valérie Radou, and Coquelicot’s Head Chef as well as a private guided tour of the historic Taissy vineyard.
Crafting sustainable travel, shaping tomorrow’s heritage
With environmental and social sustainability serving as a key foundation in Belmond’s strategic plan, Belmond will accelerate its rigorous efforts as it sets ambitious goals to reduce its impact and reliance on natural resources while driving positive change.
The brand will launch a pilot programme at ten properties which will create tailored and actionable roadmaps for them to meet the rigorous LVMH Life 360’s sustainability targets. In parallel, it will implement three flagship projects that focus on increasing the use of renewable energy, drastically reducing freshwater withdrawal and creating a Gastronomy Academy to guide its work in reducing impact in food and beverage.
In the meantime, through a global partnership with EarthCheck, the world’s leading scientific benchmarking, certification and advisory group for travel and tourism, all eligible Belmond properties are set to receive EarthCheck Silver certification by the first half of 2024. This robust benchmarking and auditing process will establish baselines that will be used to measure and improve performance across energy, water and waste.