Orient-Express to rebrand under Belmond name

Beginning next month, Orient-Express Hotels will be known under a new brand name, the company has announced. As of March 10, all Orient-Express hotels, trains and river cruises—save for the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train, which will retain its name—will come under the name Belmond.

The move comes after a decision by Orient-Express Hotels and SNCF to terminate the license for use of the name for the 45 hotels and other experiences including three river cruises, six luxury trains and a restaurant.

According to a legal website, on November 8, 2013, a U.S. federal trademark registration was filed for Belmond by Orient-Express Hotels Interfin Ltd., Hamilton HM12.

The company, which reportedly has 45 luxury hotels and other travel experiences worldwide, will also launch a new website on March 10.

The Company will retain its long-term license agreement with SNCF, the French transportation company that owns the Orient-Express trademark, for the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train. The decision to introduce the Belmond brand will come at no penalty or cost to Orient-Express, the company said.

In addition, the company said it expects to invest $5 million in the new brand during first year, with a further $10 million expected to be invested over the subsequent four years.

"Our new brand strategy is designed to build on our strong legacy and celebrate the individuality and character of our properties, as well as stimulate increased stays across the breadth of our portfolio from our existing client base," said John M. Scott, president and CEO, Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. "Strengthening our brand architecture will also make the company attractive to property owners as we advance in our strategy of expanding into the third-party management of assets that complement our existing collection.

"Migrating from a licensed brand to one which we fully own and control will, we believe, deliver an additional benefit to the company as it will enable us to invest with confidence in our brand."

Ralph Aruzza, the company's chief sales and marketing officer, said the company chose the name Belmond "after extensive research and evaluation of a number of alternatives in order to identify a name that resonates well with our guests and that encompasses the global collection of unique experiences we are today."

Meanwhile SNCF has announced plans to launch the Orient Express brand in April, starting with a luxury train to run between Paris and Vienna but also to include related products and services.

The announcement is a change in the news that has recently dogged Orient-Express; namely the attempted buyout of the company by Tata Group, a plan which was ultimately scrapped altogether in November—perhaps not coincidentally on the very same day that Orient-Express filed for the Belmond trademark.