Canada - The Royal Canadian Experience
Ed Boyce is talking to me from Missouri, the "Show-Me" state. It's apparent that his recent experience of chartering the Royal Canadian Pacific train has shown him plenty.
"I don't know if I can find enough superlatives to describe the experience." But he tries anyway. "Look. We all travel - coach, business class, first class and then luxury class. And then, very rarely, you hit royal class. Royal Canadian Pacific is royal class."
Boyce is not alone in his view. Over 167,000 registered travel agents and travel professionals cast their votes at the World Travel Awards held in September 2006 in Turks & Caicos, where they decided the Royal Canadian Pacific train, based in Calgary, Alberta is the world's best luxury train service.
Stepping onto the train is like stepping in to a colourized version of an old black-and-white film. The wood-panelled dining room is at full-lustre. There is the gleam of wine glasses, fresh flowers, solid silverware and plush brocaded chairs. If you find yourself wishing for a trunk filled with smoking jackets, brandy flasks and velvet gowns, you'll know you have succumbed to the sensuous art of traveling well. This is classic luxury. The scenery outside your window is unspoiled by signs of an intrusive world. You have retreated into a different time, where details are taken care of, your needs are anticipated and your day timer has been rendered irrelevant. Think Hepburn, Grant and Sinatra - and like those movie-star lands of grace and refinement, this experience is about elegance. And elegance is comfortable. This is not stiff and formal service. This is warmth and charm. Here is where you'll remember how to laugh and lounge.
There is nothing more Canadian than the train. It is, after all the very concept that created and unified this country. And riding in royal class luxury through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world doesn't hurt either. But as we all know, it is not just the staggering mountain views or wild forest scenes that create the best memories.
This company understands that their passengers are well traveled and want to be engaged in what they're doing. Their adventure packages reflect those interests. They have culinary, fishing and golf focused trips that cater to travelers who want to get out and involve themselves in the postcard landscape.
Of course, there is always the option to private charter the train, which is exactly what Boyce did. "I've been in the train business at many levels, and owned my own excursion train, so most of my kids have traveled quite a bit by train…they said to me, dad, why can't you do something like this?"
Boyce laughs, "I don't know how they can have such incredible service. It's warm and friendly, yet completely unobtrusive…this level of service takes a pretty special company."
Pack your camera and throw in a little cashmere. Step on board and step back in time. You'll be in good company. Apparently Winston Churchill enjoyed his trip and so will you.
Go in Style: www.royalcanadianpacific.com