FrontRunners: Railroad Treks
RAILROAD TREKS Luxury trains are venturing farther afield—and in one case, extremely high up. RailPartners, part of the Shanghai private-equity-fund firm TZG Partners (www.tzgpartners.com), has signed an agreement with China’s Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which opened in July, to operate a luxury train service to Tibet beginning in the first half of next year. The train, which will carry fewer than 100 passengers, will travel at elevations as high as 16,500 feet, requiring the carriages to be pressurized as an aircraft cabin is. The trip from Beijing to Lhasa will cost about $1,000 per night and take about 48 hours.
A luxury train also can take you through central Europe, where the Venice Simplon Orient-Express (www.orient-express.com) has introduced a seven-night tour. Travelers begin in Venice, proceed through the High Tatra Mountains in northern Slovakia to the Polish mountain resort Zakopane, continue through Kraków and Warsaw, and finish in Prague. The cost is about $7,300 per person for two sharing a double cabin.
And later this month, American Orient Express (www.americanorient express.com), which is rebranding itself GrandLuxe Rail Journeys, is launching an eight-night journey from El Paso, Texas, to Mexico City, passing through Copper Canyon and visiting colonial San Miguel de Allende, the Pacific beach resort of Mazatlán, Guadalajara, and the pyramids of Teotihuacán. Prices for the trip begin at about $4,500.