To launch its new Andean Explorer luxury sleeper train, Belmond invited a handful of media on a five-day press tour through Peru’s Andes Mountains. Writers from top publications from all over the world were there, from National Geographic Hong Kong to Condé Nast Traveler. Robb Report wanted to do something different, and called on photographer Shaun Fenn.
“The art director said, ‘I want you to tell a story in pictures,’ and the only creative direction was, ‘I want the reader to feel like they were there,’” recalled Shaun. “We were chosen because of the storytelling approach that most of my photography is based on. I don’t do much editorial, but this was one of those rare assignments that sounded too interesting to pass up.”
Belmond owns a portfolio of luxury properties around the world, including the Orient Express train, which runs between London and Venice and Paris.
“Belmond had bought this old run down track through the Andes and refurbished it. Then they bought the train in Australia and had it retrofitted, upgraded, and modernized and shipped to South America. They already have a train that runs from Cusco to Machu Picchu, but this is a five-star sleeper train. It runs between Cusco and some of the most remote areas of the Andes,” said Shaun.
Everything on the train is top shelf: from the 24 beautifully decorated rooms, to the piano bar, to executive chef Diego Muñoz.
“We were riding along one evening and just before sunset the train stopped. The staff hopped out and set up white tablecloths and Diego taught a cooking class on ceviche,” Shaun said.
The opening spread was shot one morning. The train had stopped for the night after dark and everyone went to sleep. The next morning they woke up to alpacas out the window and that incredible vista of the Andes. Shaun said he jumped out of bed, grabbed his camera, and bolted out the door to capture the image.
Other highlights of the project included staying at various Belmond properties throughout the trip, viewing the condors of the Colca Valley, visiting the floating islands of Lake Titicaca, and a local style lunch served atop a cliff overlooking a view of the Andes.
“I’d been to Peru but I’d never been to the Andes—very few people have because it’s so remote and hard to get to. But the scenery is breathtaking. Just really stunning. It’s a must-travel location for sure,” he said.
And as for the art director’s instructions to make them feel like they had taken the journey with him? Welcome aboard!