General manager, Maharajas’ Express Luxury Train, Sunil Tarneja

India has always been a mystical and exotic destination, yet expansive. What better way to discover the country than aboard a luxury train? Panayiotis Markides speaks with general manager, Maharajas’ Express Luxury Train, Sunil Tarneja about how the rail experience is the ultimate way to explore India in style.

TTG: What inspired the foray into the luxury train sector?

India has always been perceived as a country of the snake charmers, and yet remains so in the distant minds of the people untravelled. We wanted to synergise this with the physical content saying it’s truly a land of the snake charmers, yet we also have a world-class train which can offer you services and amenities which you will find in a seven-star hotel.

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TTG: What advantages does travelling by rail bring over road, sea or air?

The perceived advantages are many, to name a few. [There is] no need to pack and unpack every day for venturing into a new city; only one source of connect for all logistics; all amenities are under one roof; [the train boasts] a personal valet to take care of all your needs; world-class interiors; meeting royalty at select places; gourmet food; and impeccable service standards.

The list is endless, but we prefer our standards do the talking.

TTG: How does the Maharajas’ Express present the ultimate in luxury offerings to travellers?

Maharajas’ Express has been the latest entrant into the segment of luxury trains the world over and we have developed an insight which is incomparable and unparalleled to any other luxury train in the world with respect to the interiors, service standards, excursions and overall appeal to our customers and critics alike.

Our esteemed guests have been generous enough to vote and rank us as the ‘World’s Leading Luxury Train’ three times in succession and we have been nominated for the award for the fourth time as well. Also this train has been nominated as one of the seven best experiences to do in the world. It has been featured on CBS prime time across the United States, featured on National Geographic and many such channels.

The staff members have been rigorously trained by one of the best faculty from the Luxury Academy of the United Kingdom, British Council in Delhi. Our staff is handpicked and trained in gourmet cooking, food and beverage services, valet services and guest relations, and can speak at least three languages and understand basic conversations of four to five languages.

With attention to details given and no compromises made at any level, we only learn to deliver luxury all the way to our guests.

TTG: Can you tell us about the train’s routes? How does the Maharajas’ Express allow travellers to take in the best of India’s scenery, culture, heritage and bountiful attractions?

The Maharajas’ Express offers five aptly crafted itineraries to provide the train travellers an experience to make them feel no less than royalty, exploring the mystique of this incredible culture and more from the luxury and comfort of spacious cabins of the train.

Out of the five exclusive itineraries promoted by Maharajas’ Express train, three itineraries are of eight days/seven nights: ‘The Indian Splendour’, ‘The Heritage of India’ and ‘The Indian Panorama’ passing through the rich and panoramic landscape and showcasing the beauty of destinations like Jaipur, Ranthambore, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Gwalior, Khajuraho, Varanasi and Lucknow.

The other two itineraries of four days/three nights: ‘Gems of India’ and ‘Treasures of India’ introduce the travellers of this Indian Luxury Train to the wondrous circuit of ‘Golden Triangle’ consisting of Delhi-Agra-Ranthambore-Jaipur.

TTG: What are your main feeder markets? Are there any markets you are promoting the luxury experience to? How are you successfully achieving this?

Our main feeder markets remain as the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Russia and the CIS countries.

We are now moving to the other markets of the world like China, Middle East and Far East.

TTG: What distinguishes the Maharajas’ Express from other luxury trains globally?

The major difference is the service standards, the gourmet food and the overall experience.

TTG: How do you work with India Tourism Board to promote your experience and the destination?

India Tourism Board has been gracious to keep an e-book on its website, featuring Maharajas’ Express and has been instrumental in promoting it to so many countries through its overseas offices. We continue to hold them in high esteem and participate in many more subsequent fairs the world over.