When I first heard that Orient-Express had rebranded as Belmond my immediate reaction was what a crazy and misguided waste of brand equity. When I think Orient-Express, I think Agatha Christie, Lalique art decor crystal panels, and the elegance and romance of a bygone area.
Machu Picchu… on many a bucket list.
When I think Orient-Express, I think about the storied Cipriani, the lodge on the tip of Machu Picchu. Closer to home, I think of The Mount Nelson and other iconic properties around the globe – Rieds in Madeira and The Copacabana in Rio among them.
Turns out that the group only leased the rights to the Orient-Express name and decided that planning to broaden its scope to also include hotels managed rather than owned, as has been their model to date, they needed to own their brand.
Mourning, not moaning
Thankfully the Venice Simplon Orient-Express train remains (probably be called the Belmond VSO-E) as all properties will now be prefaced with the new moniker.
And, as to the logo, Edwin Luytens fans will immediately recognise the universe motif used in The Imperial Hotel, Delhi, which I often thought would be a perfect Orient-Express, er, I mean, Belmond property). They may also see a similarity to BP’s logo – also inspired by Lutyens use of it in BP’s original London building.
What may sound like me moaning is really me mourning the loss of a brand that I loved. Although Ritz Carlton comes a very close second, Orient-Express hotels are my favourite. I’m sure that in time Belmond will also secure such a passionate following but it seems to me like a sad moment. I publish their media release about the name change in full:
Our very own Mount Nelson.
“10th March 2014 – Orient-Express Hotels Ltd today reveals its new brand identity, Belmond, ushering the company into an exciting new era by unifying its diverse collection of luxury hotels and travel adventures.
“Building on a legacy dating back to 1976, Belmond embraces the diversity and breadth of this exclusive portfolio, allowing guests to better identify between hotels, trains, safaris and river cruises while enticing them to explore the wider collection. Derived from the Latin for ‘beautiful ‘ and ‘world’, Belmond represents a continued commitment to creating authentic travel experiences spanning city landmarks, intimate resorts and unique travel adventures.
“Providing discerning travellers with exceptional service, unforgettable memories, surprising adventures and a sense of the unique remains integral to the spirit of Belmond. Many of the collection sit beside the globe’s most celebrated sights – Belmond Sanctuary Lodge in Machu Picchu, Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel by Table Mountain in Cape Town and Belmond Hotel das Cataratas next to Brazil’s Iguassu Falls – and Belmond continues to showcase the individuality of each of its offerings while aligning them with the broader spectrum, maximising appeal to guests continuing on their journey of discovery.
The Copacabana in Rio.
“Belmond is passionate about helping guests explore each vibrant destination to the fullest, offering an array of one-of-a-kind experiences from a hot air balloon over the pagodas of Bagan to a Shaman marriage blessing by Machu Picchu or a private tasting of Burgundy’s 33 Grand Crus.
“The launch of Belmond includes a stylish new website, BELMOND.COM, which aligns the collection with the new brand name and has been designed to appeal to both travellers seeking inspiration and those who already have a clear idea of their travel needs. Social media handles have also been updated to showcase the new brand across all channels, including @Belmond and the hashtag #DiscoverBelmond on Twitter. The Belmond logo features throughout the collection and includes an orbit motif, which is aptly based on mathematical principles dating back to early quests for discovery.
“Established in 1976, the brand began with the iconic Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice followed by the fabled Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Nearly 40 years on, the curated collection now encompasses 45 luxury hotels and travel experiences in some of the world’s most celebrated destinations. “