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Luxury trains to debut in China in 2008

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Germany-based hotelier Kempinski and Tangula International signed an agreement in Geneva last month that appoints Kempinski to manage China's first commercial luxury train routes - from Beijing to Lijiang and Beijing to Lhasa - beginning in spring 2008.

The specially built trains will feature 48 suites capable of accommodating as many as 96 passengers. Suites will feature their own bathrooms with showers as well as entertainment systems with music, television and satellite Internet. All trains will feature butlers and the Lhasa-bound train from Beijing will feature an on-call doctor for the ascent.

Both the Beijing-Lijiang and Beijing-Lhasa routes will take five days and four nights to complete, trains heading for Beijing will be a bit shorter at four days and three nights. All routes will feature several off-train excursions along the way. The Beijing-Lijiang routes will pass through scenic cities including Guilin, Kunming and Dali. Ticket sales for the luxury routes will commence after May this year and are expected to be boosted by the influx of luxury travelers visiting Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games.

The rail link connecting Dali with Lijiang is still under construction and is expected to be finished this year. The Beijing-Lijiang route is the newest of a growing number of luxury travel products based in northwest Yunnan, including Banyan Tree's Lijiang and Ringha resorts and the upcoming Amanresorts resort planned for Diqing County.

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Oh, baby, I can't wait to get myself a luxury train ticket to Yunnan and get out of Beijing for a while. But I had to wonder what a 'luxury train' entails:

"The suites will feature an en-suite bathroom with shower, mini bar and in-room entertainment system with music, TV and satellite internet. A butler is on call throughout the journey..."

Sounds pretty posh. Now if only they could get some hot tubs onto the thing I'd be sold.

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