Rocky Mountaineer Awes IRT Advisor — & Not Just ‘Bearly’
“Bear!” someone shouted.
“Yea, right,” I thought, groggy from my early morning wake-up call. “Just another overly-excited travel agent.”
But then I saw him.
The shaggy, brown animal lumbered right outside my Rocky Mountaineer window, oblivious to his human admirers. I felt as if I could reach out and pet him—maybe even give him a good belly rub to wake him from his winter nap.
And that’s what’s so incredible about the Rocky Mountaineer. You’re in the middle of the Canadian wilderness while traveling in a cocoon of great food, service, scenery and conviviality.
And so it went for my two-day, one-night, all-too-short Rocky Mountaineer ride.
Two things stand out most to me about my trip to Canada last May:
• Western Canada’s scenery is stunning — just as advertised.
• The dynamic Rocky Mountaineer staff knows its stuff, whether it’s Canadian railroad history, animals and birds, or how to put folks at ease.
From the moment I arrived at Vancouver’s bustling station, I knew I was in great hands.
Once aboard the train, I was shown to my seat at the second-level panoramic window of my GoldLeaf car. Over the next two days, I’d see eagles, ospreys and — bears.
I was traveling with a group of N. American travel advisors, many of whom had never ridden a train.
I’ve traveled by conventional trains in France, England, and Japan — but never on a first-class train like the Rocky Mountaineer. Having joined the Society of International Railway Travelers’ in December 2016, I was looking forward to my first first-class train ride.
GoldLeaf service is the train’s highest level. And as far as IRT is concerned, it’s the only way to go.
It’s a smorgasbord for the senses. For example:
- SEE: GoldLeaf’s gigantic panoramic windows curve up to the ceiling, giving you a mountain goat’s-eye view in almost every direction; travel in late spring, and you might spot bald eagles, mountain goats, moose, and even black and brown bears, as I did, emerging from hibernation.
- FEEL: GoldLeaf’s wind-in-the-face, outdoor observation decks — accessible exclusively for GoldLeaf passengers — bring you in direct contact with the Canadian wilderness;
- TASTE: The fabulous, nothing-could-be finer dining room is just a short walk down the elegant spiral staircase. There, you’ll be served breakfast and lunch.
- LISTEN: The typically younger, 20-something attendants are top-notch and constantly active. They take turns pointing out historic sites, scenic landmarks and animals. They also distribute all-included snacks and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic).
- RELAX: GoldLeaf seats are utterly relaxing. You can adjust the seat backs to several positions and control their radiating heat. You can even rotate your seat 180 degrees to make a miniature seating area for 4 people.
(Besides GoldLeaf, there’s also the single-level Silver service, which is less expensive. But don’t even ask us to book it for you. You haven’t come all this way to have at-seat, airline-style meals and no full outdoor platform.)
Meanwhile, back in GoldLeaf, I absolutely loved the outdoor observation deck at the end of the car.
I was able to enjoy the full beauty of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains; the winding path of the Spiral Tunnels; and the beautiful, sometimes turquoise, snow-melt rivers along the way. If you travel in the late spring, you’ll have a great chance to see such wildlife, and — if you’re as lucky as I was — even bears.
In fact, there’s no bad time to take the Rocky Mountaineer. Should you travel in the summer or fall, you’ll still be privy to stunning natural scenery, whether that means more greenery, higher river levels, or stunning fall foliage.
All meals and drinks are included when on board the train. There are two seatings for breakfast and lunch in the elegant, downstairs dining section. I particularly enjoyed receiving a small menu at each meal with at least four choices from which to choose.
As a breakfast-lover, this presented some difficult choices! Pancakes or a freshly prepared parfait?
The Rocky Mountaineer also accommodates dietary restrictions, as long as you alert us at time of booking. In my case, that meant receiving gluten-free toast.
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As if all this weren’t enough, the Rocky Mountaineer is adding seven brand-new GoldLeaf cars to its collection. Built by Swiss rail car company Stadler, four cars were added last month, with three more coming in 2020.
What’s special about these cars?
While all GoldLeaf carriages are fabulous, the new cars offer “dimmable” upper domed windows to moderate incoming light, redesigned galley kitchens to better aid staff with meal preparation, and enhanced ride quality.
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So what does all this mean to you?
First: the Rocky Mountaineer is wildly popular, so the sooner you book, the better. Book by the end of August to ensure you receive the best possible promotional goodies.
Second: the best itineraries sell out first. Rocky Mountaineer offers a dizzying array of options. Based on our 35 years of experience, we recommend one in particular: our Ultra-Luxe Canadian Rockies Adventure, with upgraded hotels and all private touring and transfers. It’s equally great for multi-generational family groups and vacationing couples looking for an extra-exclusive Rockies experience. Check it out here.
If you’re ready to book right now, click here.
You can also e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (800) 478-4881 within the U.S. or Canada. Elsewhere, call +1 (502) 897-1725.
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Nora Elzy is a Luxury Travel Associate with The Society of International Railway Travelers. She joined our team in December, 2016. She is a graduate of Centre College. Among her international travels was her study abroad in Japan.