LVMH and Accor partner to grow Orient Express

Image © Studio Maxime d'Angeac
Hotel group Accor, which is about to launch the first of a chain of Orient Express branded luxury hotels, has agreed a strategic partnership with luxury group LVMH to drive forward growth of the brand across hotels, trains and yachts.

Accor and French luxury brand group LVMH have agreed a partnership to take forward development of the Orient Express brand. 

Acquired by Accor in 2022, Orient Express is long associated with elegant luxury trains, having launched its first voyages in 1883. In the hands of Accor, the group has already revived train services, launched a new chain of luxury hotels, and laid plans for a new Orient Express sailing ship. 

New hotels in development

The first Orient Express hotels are already in development, with hospitality group Arsenale working alongside Accor on projects in Venice and Rome. The Rome hotel, Orient Express La Minerva, is expected to open in late 2024. Arsenale is overseeing redevelopment of the 17th century palace Palazzo Fonseca, to create a 93 room luxury hotel with the style that Orient Express clients will expect.

The Orient Express Hotel Venice will follow, with an opening date in 2025 yet to be announced. Located in Palazzo Dona Giovannelli, the Venice hotel will be just minutes from the city’s Santa Lucia railway station. The 45 room hotel is being converted from a historic building, and will present guests disembarking from the Orient Express train the choice of arriving at the hotel by boat, or on foot. 

A third hotel, in Riyadh, is also in the works. The 80 room property will be in the city’s Diriyah Gate district, and will be joined in Saudi Arabia by a planned “Dream of the Desert” rail experience, being prepared in partnership with Saudi Arabia Railways. 

Accor says it has further sites in negotiation for Orient Express hotels. These include the gateway cities of Paris, London and Istanbul, all great destinations too for the growing Orient Express train journey portfolio. 

A strategic investment

LVMH will be making a strategic investment in the Orient Express brand alongside Accor, while also taking a stake in the company that will operate the hotels and trains in future, and in the division that will own the two planned sailing ships. 

“Orient Express has embodied adventure and elegance since its origins. Its name has become part of our cultural heritage and remains a source of inspiration for the greatest artists,” said Bernard Arnault, group chairman and CEO of LVMH. “We are delighted to be partnering with Accor to accelerate the renewal of this travel icon. Each of our groups will bring the best of its expertise to take Orient Express to the pinnacle of the art of hospitality.”

The Orient Express train lives on today, in several guises. There is an Orient Express train service providing eight different itineraries across the Italian railway system, in preparation. La Dolce Vita will launch in 2025 and offer guests a luxury travel experience that includes one or two nights staying on board. 

Meanwhile Belmond, the hotels division of LVMH, operates the Venice Simplon Orient Express, offering a variety of services across Europe. In addition, Belmond operates a number of other luxury train experiences around the world, including trips in South America and Asia.