Departures is published by Meredith Corp. and owned by American Express. While American Express Card Member benefits are highlighted in this publication, including through the links indicated below, the content of this article was independently written by the editorial staff at Meredith. Other Departures content paid for by American Express is explicitly marked as such.
Chartering a luxury train to take you and your guests through the Canadian Rockies to the likes of Banff and Lake Louise is the epitome of slow travel. And renting out the entire vessel means you can take full ownership of the Canada train ride, customizing the itinerary to suit your guests and your travel agenda. A private booking on the Royal Canadian Pacific Train lets you plan a Canada train trip that’s entirely your own.
Renting out an entire vintage train is the luxury version of a choose-your-own-adventure vacation. You essentially curate your own rail vacation, from the dining to the stops en route. If you’re entertaining colleagues, for example, your itinerary would look very different than if you were planning a family reunion trip. Either way, a Canada train trip aboard the Royal Canadian Pacific has the fairytale setting of vintage cars and the Rocky Mountain backdrop.
Each business car was custom-made in Montreal—many built in the 1920s and 1930s—and have been refurbished with high-end modern amenities. While every sleeper car on the train exudes cozy, bygone-era charm, the most notable business cars, The Strathcona, Van Horne, and Royal Wentworth, are each outfitted with a separate lounge and dining area. Those were the three business cars initially built to accommodate Canadian Pacific’s senior executives in the ‘20s.
When you rent the entire Royal Canadian Pacific, you’ll also have full use of the Mount Stephen car, which serves as an observation lounge. As the curator of your own luxury train route, you might opt to use Mount Stephen as a hosting car—a place to serve before-dinner drinks as the sun sets. From there, guests can make their way to arguably the most important car: the Craigellachie dining car, a sleeper car built in the ‘30s that has since been reinvented as a 32-person dining room.
Beyond just the thrill of having the whole train to yourself, the ability to modify the itinerary of a Royal Canadian Pacific train route is a coveted position to be in. Canada—especially the province of Alberta—is really made to be explored by train because of the natural scenery you’re exposed to en route. The itineraries focus on the Rockies and the splendor of Banff National Park. When tailoring the trip to your groups’ needs, you’ll start by honing in on Banff,
Lake Louise, Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, and Columbia Valley, among other sights. What you do at each stop, of course, depends on group interests. Royal Canadian Pacific can organize excursions that run the gamut—from fly-fishing to a glacier hike to paying homage to the tracks at the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel.
For those with decision fatigue, choosing your own adventure isn’t the only way to private charter. You can also adopt one of Royal Canadian Pacific’s classic itineraries, like their Royal Canadian Rockies Experience, spanning seven days and six nights. To the already-set itinerary, you can add customized features—tacking on a helicopter ride over the Rockies on the final day is a popular choice, for obvious reasons.
One of the biggest queries with slower train travel is, of course, will guests be confined to just the train? Part of the slow travel appeal comes from taking time to see the region’s hotels, experience the local cuisine, and engage in favorite activities in new surroundings, be it hiking, running, or frequenting local spas. Aboard the Royal Canadian Pacific, passengers can capitalize on the trains’ partnerships with local hotels (The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, for example) and any number of local golf courses (Eagle Ranch Golf Resort and Stewart Creek Golf Club, to name a few).
The beauty of chartering your own Canada train ride is you can make the Royal Pacific Canadian train as much a part of your vacation as you want. It could mean a week-long private charter, but it could also just mean a private Royal Banff Dinner Train experience. The Royal Banff Dinner Train is exclusively available for private bookings—it’s a round-trip Banff to Calgary adventure with cocktails and a full dining experience for 32 people held across five vintage business cars.
Learn more about booking a multi-day private Canada train trip here.