Marketing the Rainbow
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Belmond Ltd. (formerly Orient-Express Hotels Ltd) is a hospitality and leisure company that operates luxury hotels, train services, river cruises and safaris worldwide. In 2020, the company had 32 deluxe hotels, 7 tourist trains, 3 river cruises, 3 safari locations and restaurants in 22 countries.
The company was founded in 1976 by the American entrepreneur James Sherwood with the acquisition of the Hotel Cipriani in Venice from the Guinness family for £900,000. He then bought what was left of the legendary Orient Express train to restore it and offer rides from Paris and London to his hotel in Venice. In December 2018, the company agreed to be acquired by top luxury brand LVMH.
In March 2019, Belmond celebrated the opening of the Belmond Cadogan Hotel with ‘Cadogan Nights’, a gathering of Chelsea’s most glamourous taste-makers, eccentrics and bohemian spirits. Chelsea, for a long time, has also been London's gayborhood. A very stylish clip was released for the occasion.
The Hotel opened following a multi-million-pound historic renovation; 75 Sloane Street, "an address rich in history and heritage, has played host to socialites, artists and aristocrats throughout history and the stage is now set for a new ‘cast’ of guests to play their part. With a storied past full of glamour, intrigue and at times, scandal, Belmond Cadogan Hotel is the place where London’s cultural and social calendars converge; from literary gatherings to curated art collections; the next ‘act’ of this legendary hotel promises an enriching retreat in London’s most stylish neighborhood."
Via the IGLTA, Belmond offers a luxury LGBT+ package with the classic, art-deco Orient Express: a "Legendary train journey from Venice to Paris" in November 2021. Attitude reported that the train would be "transformed into an exclusive party venue and – in Bar Car 3764 – waiters serving wicked cocktails created exclusively for this journey." The 3-day trip costs around £2,695 per person. This voyage was originally planned for November 2020, but was postponed due to corona.
Condé Nast wrote in 2015, under the heading How One Luxury Travel Brand Is Winning Over the LGBT Market: "Belmond was among the early supporters of both LGBT travel and the same-sex destination wedding market. Now, the brand has gone a step further by appointing Tom Alderink to the new position of Director of LGBT Sales - one that the company calls “pioneering” within the world of hospitality."
They also launched belmond.com/lgbt-travel, a microsite featuring a range of travel experiences in LGBT welcoming destinations worldwide. This site is now no longer active.
In 2017 Belmond also set up an LGBT advisory board, with some real industry heavy-weights, to help them shape the future of the brand as one of choice for the LGBT audience.
Belmond is a "Proud Global Partner of IGLTA, the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association, since 2014". Discounts are offered occasionally to members of the community. They were the host hotel for the 2016 IGLTA Global Convention at the Belmond Mount Nelson in Cape Town.
A similar luxurious esperience is the Belmond Andean Explorer, which traverses the Peruvian Andes on various itineraries. It is the first deluxe overnight train service in South America.