There was a time when trains dominated most of the transit taking place in countries such as the United States. Today, high-speed trains are a cheap and effective means to get across many places in the world, like Europe, Japan, and South Africa, and are important conduits of these economies. Yet it still seems that whenever people want to get away on vacation, they either fly to their desired destination or take a cruise. A growing trend, however, is the rising number of luxury trains and patrons that are using them. This trend could change the dynamic of the hospitality and travel industry, as these trains offer both.

Similar to a cruise ship, these luxury trains offer many amenities, from rooms like those of an upscale hotel, fine dining, spas and massages, as well as onboard lectures for the traveling academic. While cruise ships can only offer a view of coastal sights, these trains can provide the rider with a great deal of inland spectacle. They are also a good way to avoid the hassles of air travel. That is, if you can get to a departure city by car.

For those looking to try something new on a vacation, there are many options. Luxury train services can be found in over 25 countries on five continents, and travel through scenic wonders such as the Andes Mountains or great European cities and castles. However, there is some bad news if you live in the United States. The country's only luxury train, the GrandLukeExpress, went out of business in 2008… So much for avoiding the hassles of airplane travel.

Yet sales remain strong in Europe in Asia, where nearly 70% of the clients on the trains are 60 and older. With some cabins costing nearly $17,000 per person, it’s no surprise that those taking these trains are either retired or very wealthy. The experience, however, should sound appealing to anyone who would want to dine in splendor, observe amazing scenery from different parts of the world, and then fall asleep in a room similar to one in a world-class hotel.

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