Luxury Rail Coming to Ireland took the Roman name for Ireland for its latest luxury train, the Belmond Grand Hibernian, which will take to the rails in the summer of 2016. While both luxury and rail are two well-established niches in Ireland, this product will be the first time they’re on the same track together there, adding a new dimension to Irish travel. As John Scott, the president and CEO of Belmond put it when the project was announced, “Ireland offers today’s luxury traveler a rich and diverse cultural experience, with unrivaled scenery and warm hospitality that fit perfectly with Belmond’s offering of enriching and authentic hotel, rail and river cruise experiences.”Impacting Travel

The Belmond Grand Hibernian will be the company’s seventh luxury train and its third in the British Isles. With the Belmond Grand Hibernian up and running, it will have the Belmond Royal Scotsman and the Belmond Northern Belle forming a troika of luxury rail in the isles. Belmond believes the demand is there with the primary markets coming from North America and the U.K. The target market will be high end, typically traveling as couples, extended families and celebratory groups, and will also include

The Venice of China nickname doesn’t really do this city justice since it tells only part of the story. Coined the “Venice of China,” Suzhou has more than its fair share of narrow streets and waterways, dotted with gondola-like boats navigating centuries-old stone bridges.

You’ll also find shops cooking up local seafood favorites, including plates of squirrel-shaped Mandarin Fish — a fried, orange-colored dish with a sweet-and-sour sauce. Located in the southeastern part of the country near Shanghai, Suzhou’s claim to fame is certainly rooted in the waterways that traverse its streets.

Just a short drive away, however, there’s a much different kind of city emerging in Suzhou Industrial Park. Glass skyscrapers dominate the skyline as five-star luxury hotels set up shop. European-style restaurants tempt locals and tourists, as do rides on one of the largest Ferris wheels in the world. Indeed, part of the appeal of Suzhou is that it blends different elements of China, both old and new.

Setting the Stage: At the heart of Suzhou (pronounced Sue-Joe) is the old town district, the layout of which has remained untouched for more than 2,500 years. Here visitors can enjoy pagodas, temples, waterways and teahouses in one of

Central’s New Directions venerable tour operator Central Holidays is introducing new tour brands and tour programs, including its very successful high-end Journeys by Central Holidays brand. And it is coming out with a new Latin America tour line under its STI by Central Holidays brand. Vacation Agent recently talked with CEO Gianni Miradoli.

How is business for Central Holidays this year?
It is good, although this year has been a mixed signal from market. Europe seems to be a little bit soft this year, maybe because of the economical situation or terrorism, but the big rise in the price of airfare has not helped Europe to explode as we had expected.

What are you seeing in the other destinations Central Holidays serves?
This year we see some destinations that are picking up, like Cuba for example, where our programs are doing very well. On top of that, we are receiving so many requests for Cuba that we decided to extend offers to Cuba with more specific topics to attract the attention of various audiences, for example Jewish Heritage in Cuba, which is a big thing, as well as the Christian heritage.

We are looking to utilize other means

Riding the Mountain Rails

After just a little while of perusing the long list of the world’s most scenic train rides, it becomes pretty clear that mountain scenery is a favorite of rail riders. Mountains and trains just go together. Taking in the scenery is always better in a train than a car for the simple reasons that trains are safer and a train passenger can focus on the vistas rather than the often curving roads that make the necessary twists and turns that road engineers used to negotiate through mountain passes. The following list of scenic rides take different approaches to experiencing the joy of mountain travel — some trains work their way through the valleys while others take the mountains head on scaling their precipitous sides. Many of the trains represent historic engineering feats and constitute important milestones in their countries’ histories.

A Historic Connection

The latest of these engineering feats and historic milestones was achieved on the very highest mountains in the world. Completed this past August after four years, the 150-mile-long connection between Tibet’s two biggest cities, Lhasa and Shigatse, has to be the world’s most scenic train ride. It’s certainly the highest. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway now brings passengers from Beijing

MLT’s Growing Family

MLT Vacations is well positioned to capture the family travel business with new products that travel agents can offer to clients, says John Caldwell president of MLT Vacations. As the operator of Delta Vacations, MLT works closely with the all-inclusive resort brands and also has introduced self-catering vacations.Tour Operator

A 29-year travel industry veteran, Caldwell recently discussed family travel trends with Vacation Agent.

Is MLT doing a lot of family travel business?

Yes we are. When you take a look at MLT’s business and the brands and where we go, a majority of our travel is family-based travel, with a vast majority of trips taking place in Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico and Hawaii. Those all are huge family destinations. And within the ecosystem of families moving around, the demand is growing.

And it’s not just families in general, but multigenerational families. We hear this a lot — that the multigenerational family business is growing, in terms of family reunions and friends and families getting together at a destination. As a result of this trend, we are extremely well positioned with our partners. But we’re also recognizing that this trend is driving new needs for our products.

What kind of new needs are being