• Grand Luxe - New Development

  • Tell us where you were and what you saw!
Tell us where you were and what you saw!

Moderator: David Benton

  by Noel Weaver
taoyue wrote:It is hardly likely that Amtrak pricing contributed in any significant way to the Fun Train's failure. Just how many of the Fun Train's prospective passengers got desensitized by Amtrak prices, anyway? Many (most?) Florida vacationers come from areas of the country with little or no Amtrak service.

No, I think rail is simply not worth the money, period. Compared to the price of a cruise vacation, a train trip seems exorbitant. Of course, there are segments of the population that are not price-sensitive (Acela Express anyone?), but apparently not enough to sustain Grand Luxe.
I agree that "Florida Fun Train" type service was not worth the money nor was it worth operating for the operators.
This does not mean that corridor type service state supported could not be quite successful, I think it would be if operated
properly but not one train like the fun train with no intermediate stops and totally separate from Amtrak.
Noel Weaver
  by VPayne
So Grandluxe was over $65/mile to operate as Grandluxe Employee reported. With 120 people that would come to $1.25/mile per couple with some profit for the train operations. Probably a lot more to cover the tours and other operating costs.

What I have always wondered is why the operator did not offer trips to destinations around 600 - 900 miles away with the departure centered around a 3-day weekend and no added tours. An Atlanta to Washington trip might be an example. For me I know that it is often more stressful to try to get away for several workdays instead of just making my vacation a long weekend.

The combined Amtrak operations might have been an attempt to get into the shorter market with the smaller number of cars behind already operating trains matched to demand. Can the poster provide their thoughts as to why the combined trips behind Amtrak trains did not take off and why they were abruptly canceled. Were any of the ADA requirements a part of this?

I sure would love to see an operator offer a tour train such as this with standard queen sized beds at the lower level and en suite baths with showers. At least 8 rooms could fit into a standard car shell. I think Grandluxe operated with 7 sleepers with an average of 9 rooms so the change might not be too great but I understand that the existing equipment probably precluded economical rebuilding. Which brings us back to the difficulty of finding capital to realize efficiencies in overnight train operations.
  by bratkinson
I think the bottom line on the Grand Luxe and other 'cruise trains' that have been tried is that those for whom price is no object (the true 'market' for GLE) either don't consider ANY train to be worth a luxury price, or, a train is just not one of the options they would consider for a short vacation or cruise (the destination is more important the how they get there). While there those of us that may take a once-in-a-lifetime ride such as this, there aren't enough willing to do so to pay the bills. Apparently, the only 'cruise trains' that have more than a 2-3 year life span are the Orient Express and the Blue Train. And even the OE was gone for a while before it, too, was revived.

Off the top of my head, I can name at least a dozen dinner trains and a several of 'cruise trains' that have come and gone in only a few years. As I see it, the economics of running the train in addition to all the onboard amenities dictates either a 150% load factor or less than a 'great' experience. It takes a year or longer of 'expectations' of more customers or more trips that are not fulfilled before the management and investors of such endeavors finally decide their projections of business were overly optimistic and costs underestimated. I've done the same in my own business attempts, and therefore only too familiar with the situation.

When considering the GLE, obviously, the 'routine' costs of en-route train servicing, re-stocking of supplies, etc, required a substantial outlay of time and expense even before the first passenger boarded! Like Amtrak trying to pay all the overhead costs based on one train per day on an LD route, GLE running one or two trains per year on a particular route resulted in the overhead costs exceeding the revenue. Regretably, the realization that ends won't meet and hence, no profit, don't sink in quickly enough amid great expectations and much pomp and circumstance.

While I've had the experience of riding the some of the 'great' passenger trains as a kid in the 50s, and even a number of private railcar trips more recently, I've never had the time nor the finances necessary to ride a 'cruise train'. I'm sure, for many, the extent of our rail cruises has been limited to Amtrak, and more so on VIA.

So, it is time to bid adieu to another once-in-a-lifetime trip I wanted to take someday, but that day never came.
  by Met113
I'm surprised they haven't updated their website. Very sad, I wonder where all those historic cars will go?
  by Gilbert B Norman

Brief passage:

  • WASHINGTON—A company that offered luxurious rail tours aboard refurbished vintage cars and was a major charter customer of Amtrak has gone under. GrandLuxe Rail Journeys abruptly ceased operations last week.

    "We are financially unable to continue operations," the company said in an Aug. 26 note to people booked for upcoming tours. It said it did not know whether people would get their money back.

    It is unclear what caused the collapse. Phone calls Wednesday to GrandLuxe headquarters in Evergreen, Colo., were greeted by a message saying the mailbox was full.
  by Tadman
Any word on how much GLE owes Amtrak? I'm guessing they weren't paying bills on time toward the end.
  by jp1822
The Rocky Mountaineer runs a superb luxury service, almost similar to how GrandLuxe was trying to operate. Only the trains operted for a full day before people were let off to explore and then either reboard the next morning or go on extended excursions. And of course Rocky Mountaineer doesn't have sleeping cars - they put people up in hotels overnight. The other thing to note is I believe the passenger rail employee structure is different in Canada than in the US, which may be a savings in labor expense etc. Their prices are not cheap and they do attract a crowd. So the luxury market of rail travel is out there - and for extended periods, but the US can't seem to get its hands around a player for the long run. Unforunately, the sleepers and railroad labor laws may be the point that makes profit hard to come by. Rocky Mountaineer attracts people from all over the world to travel its trains - which are largely a two day "day trip" through the Canadian Rockies. My favorite route of the Rocky Mountaineer though has been its Vancouver to Banff line, of course, and then its interior British Columbia route through the Rockies as well - the Frasier Discovery Route.
  by John_Perkowski
Moderator's Note:

With the exception of Mr Tadman's question on accounts receivable by Amtrak from GL, this thread properly belongs in Mr Benton's Rail Travel and Trip Reports forum.

Of note, I suspect Mr Tadman is right: At other places, the word is booked passengers were being advised to contact their credit card companies for refunds. My gut says bankruptcy will show up sooner or later. Further, looking at Mr Halstead's post on Mr Rader, it appears he was ousted from CRC for stewardship of the dollars entrusted him.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Two weeks after GL "pulled the pin' , as far as their website is concerned, it's business as usual.

I must confess that about a year ago, I viewed a restaurant's website menu some two weeks before I was to go to it (last October in Greenwich Village); I literally could "taste" their Beef Burgundy. But when my Niece and I got there it was a "whoops, we simply MUST update our website" moment.

Somehow the shutdown of a tour operator national in scope deserves a bit more attention than did that restaurant in New York - at least they were open!!
  by icgsteve
HAve you considered that maybe GL has no employees anymore, and that Rader does not care enough to see to it that the website be taken down?
  by David Benton
created with a free html editor , lol . but at least someone had the decency to do it , possibly with the prospectof been unlikely to be paid for their efforts .