There’s a new entrant in the road race for upscale travelers between Washington and New York City.
Restaurateur Andy Seligman has started Royal Sprinter, a luxury van service that hopes to peel away some of the high-end travelers who use Vamoose, Amtrak or BoltBus for trips up and down the Interstate 95 corridor.
“There’s a market for people who will pay a little more for a lot more service and amenities,” Seligman said.
Seligman is kicking off his service with two roomy Mercedes vans that will have only eight leather seats a piece, each staggered so no one is sitting shoulder-to-shoulder.
Tickets will be priced at $90 one way. Vamoose’s upscale 36-seat Gold Bus is $60 from Bethesda or Arlington to Penn Station in New York, but its regular buses are much less. BoltBus has fares starting at $19. Amtrak fares vary widely, from one-way prices from Union Station to Penn Station starting at $84 for an off-hour ticket on its regional train to $375 for a first-class Acela express seat.
Seligman said his van trips should take around four hours, depending on traffic.
“I want this to be luxury,” said Seligman, who owns Brickside, Jumbo Slice Pizza and Grand Central restaurants in the Washington area. “I want you to feel it’s a Mercedes Sprinter that has been custom-built for this experience.”
The fare includes free WiFi, free water bottles, snacks in an on-board refrigerator and individual seven-inch TVs with pay-movie channels such as Starz, Cinemax, HBO and Showtime, as well as sports channels such as NFL Ticket.
The Mercedes vans will leave and arrive at the Park Hyatt at 24th and M Streets, NW in the District. The New York City drop-off/pickup site is the Regency Hotel at Park Avenue and 61st Street. Seligman will also have a stop at the Embassy Suites in Chevy Chase.
Seligman has invested more than $300,000, which includes his own money and some raised from investors. The vans alone cost $120,000 a pop.
In addition to his restaurants, Seligman is a full-time specialty leasing agent at Federal Realty Investment Trust, which has developed such retail centers as Bethesda Row, Courthouse Center and Congressional Plaza in Rockville, Pentagon Row in Arlington and Barcroft Plaza in Falls Church.
Seligman is looking to begin service April 4.
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