Into the Wild

By Feifei Sun / August 29, 2013


In the 19th- century, rail transport revolutionized travel, offering consumers a faster, more comfortable and almost majestic method of getting place to place. But in recent decades, travel by train has taken, well, a back seat to travel by plane, as airlines offer more flight destinations at relatively affordable rates.

Rocky Mountaineer, a luxury Canadian rail service, is hoping to change that, by pairing the sense of adventure associated with train travel in centuries past with modern luxury and sustainability. This August, the company will debut Coastal Passage, a three-day route connecting Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia to the Canadian Rockies. The launch marks Rocky Mountaineer’s fifth rail route—and the first service to depart from, and arrive in, the United States.

Early on, Rocky Mountaineer recognized that much of its appeal relied on the unspoiled scenery, fresh air and abundant wildlife found in Western Canada, which is one reason why sustainability became an important focus. All of its locomotives—which offer gorgeous panoramic views—come equipped with a system that automates the shutdown and restart of the train engines. The result? Significantly reduced idling time, as well as less fuel consumption, exhaust emissions, and noise pollution.

On board, travelers are treated to three-course, à la carte meals, made with fresh ingredients indigenous to two of Canada’s most bountiful regions, British Columbia and Alberta. Menu selections include prime Alberta beef, wild salmon from the Pacific Ocean and regional local game, accompanied by a local selection of award-winning wines. Rocky Mountaineer’s executive chefs recently released their first cookbook, Eat Play Love: Regionally Inspired Cuisine by Rocky Mountaineer.

And while Rocky Mountaineer likes to emphasize the journey, the destination—or destinations, rather—certainly hold their own. Each leg is accompanied by a stay at a local property, many with eco-certifications, based on the level of service selected by guests (the most luxe option is the Goldleaf service, followed by the Silverleaf and Redleaf, respectively), and spas.

Here again, regional methods and green materials are incorporated to give travelers a sense of place and authenticity. At the Spa at the Fairmont Chateau Lake, for example, treatments like the mountain hot stone massage incorporate organic lavender oil and volcanic basalt stones to release stress and muscle tension, giving travelers the exact kind of relaxation they’ll need before the following day’s ride.

Feifei Sun

Feifei Sun

Feifei Sun is a freelance writer based in Atlanta. She began her career at Vanity Fair and later worked as an editor at TIME, where she wrote about fashion and politics and helped edit the magazine's special issues, including the TIME 100 and Person of the Year. Her writing has also appeared in Real Simple, Marie Claire and the Huffington Post.
Feifei Sun

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