The owner of the iconic “Orient Express” brand, the SNCF Group, have partnered with AccorHotels to continue the development of the Orient Express within the global luxury hospitality sector.

AccorHotels, as part of the partnership, will be acquiring a 50 percent stake in the share capital of Orient Express, 134 years to the day after the first Orient Express trip between Paris and Constantinople.

Sébastien Bazin, chairman  and CEO, AccorHotels said that they are delighted with the strategic partnership which cements the alliance of two major French players in the world of travel.

Combining the expertise and savior-faire of the two groups, AccorHotels aims to strengthen its leadership in the luxury sector by using the Orient Express banner to develop a new collection of prestigious luxury hotels.  The collection of hotels aims to combine the exoticism of East and West locations whilst also being the very epitome of the art of travel.

The seven historic rail cars, symbols of French Art Deco, will be operated by Orient Express for events and private journeys, whilst continuing to remain the physical property of the state-owned rail group.  AccorHotels feels that the iconic cars will provide a new and exceptional setting for the organization of events.

Committed to preserving, sharing and promoting the heritage connected with the legendary train and its history, AccorHotels and SNCF Group hope to work together through the Orient Express Endowment Fund, a public interest body whose aim is to encourage and support awareness-building initiatives to benefit a wide audience in the field of arts and culture.

“SNCF Group is proud to have contributed to the renaissance of this historic brand and we intend to continue our involvement and provide our expertise, acquired over the past 80 years in the field of rail engineering, to help develop this project. Through our heritage policy, we will be actively involved in promoting this legendary train to the widest audience. The interest shown today by AccorHotels bears witness to the relevance of the project which has been supported since 2008 by our Chairman Guillaume Pepy,” said Mathias Vicherat, deputy CEO in charge of the Corporate Project, Communication and Image, SNCF Group

For almost a century the legendary train, steeped in culture, splendor and refinement, connected Europe’s greatest cities, from Paris to Istanbul. A timeless symbol of luxury travel, the Orient Express is imprinted in both history and imagination.