Orient-Express Hotels to rebrand as Belmond

By Danny King
CopacabanaPalace-poolOrient-Express Hotels will rebrand under the name Belmond next month.

The rebranding will be effective March 10, when the website Belmond.com launches, Orient-Express said Monday. Orient-Express will rebrand all but one product under the new name, including its hotels, trains, safaris and cruises. The company will retain the Orient-Express licensing agreement only for the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train.

The company will spend $15 million to market the new brand in the first large-scale advertising campaign in the company’s 38-year history. The Belmond name is derived from “beautiful world” in French (“belle” is beautiful, while “monde” means world).

“The new brand name provides us with a fresh opportunity to tell our story,” said Orient-Express CEO John Scott in a statement. “We are excited that we are entering the next chapter in our journey with a name that celebrates our character, resonates with our guests and encompasses the broad scope of our celebrated collection of hotels, river cruises and trains.”

Orient-Express is rebranding as its properties appear to be benefiting from a rebound in luxury spending. Through Sept. 30, 2013, the company’s revenue rose 10% from a year earlier to $468.7 million (full-year financial results are due out Thursday). Revenue at hotels that had been in operation at least a year rose 19% from a year earlier.

Still, Orient-Express took a $13.5 million loss for the first nine months of 2013, due to a $35.7 million impairment charge on its La Samanna resort in St. Martin.

Indian Hotels Co., owner of Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces, made a $1.2 billion buyout bid for Orient-Express in November 2012, but Orient-Express turned down the offer. Indian Hotels, which already had a 7% stake in Orient-Express, officially abandoned that bid late last year.

Orient-Express Hotels was founded in 1976 with the acquisition of Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Italy. The company’s 45 hotels include Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Palace and New York City’s 21 Club.

Follow Danny King on Twitter @dktravelweekly.
 
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