Royal Sprinter enters D.C.-NYC luxury travel race


The inside of Royal Sprinter’s Mercedes luxury van, which has reclining leather seats. The D.C. to New York service begins in April. (Terry Minix/Terry Minix)

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.

The Buzz hears:

Brothers Ty and Mark Neal and Drew Kim, co-founders of Matchbox Food Group (think Ted’s Bulletin, DC-3, Matchbox), competed in the Dunkin’ Dash at the Verizon Center during a break between periods at the March 10 Washington Capitals/Pittsburgh Penguins game. The business partners dressed as a couple of Dunkin’ Donuts cups of coffee and ran around the ice in shoes, picking up a stick and ball to shoot into a net. Kim apparently set a record for completing the dash the quickest, winning a $25 gift certificate from Dunkin’ Donuts, a mug and sunglasses. Everyone in his seating section won a free cup of coffee from Dunkin’.

Chevy Chase-based Latinum Networkdebuted a bilingual app called Veo, available on iPhone, iPod Touch and Android smartphones. Veo allows companies to offer free products, promotions, giveaways and even send direct messages to customers and prospects. Latinum Network helps businesses from the NBA to H&R Block reach the Hispanic population in the United States. Latinum was founded by former AOL Latino general manager David Wellisch and Michael Klein , who once worked at the Corporate Executive Board .

DC 2024 Chairman Russ Ramsey has made the rounds of former U.S. Olympic bigwigs in his quest to bring the Olympics to Washington. We hear Ramsey has talked to former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who was the chief executive of the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Games organizing committee, and Billy Payne, who helmed the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games. Ramsey co-founded the investment firm now know as FBR & Co., and most recently was chairman of the George Washington University Board of Trustees.

Former NBC correspondent Brooke Salkoff is becoming a venture partner in the new Arlington-based Crystal Tech Fund, managed by Paul Singh, who is a former partner of Silicon Valley start-up incubator 500Startups. Salkoff, 43, was national correspondent for NBC News, known as Brooke Hart, before starting CampEasy in 2012, which helps parents find summer camps for their kids. Crystal Tech Fund opens in Crystal City next month.

Salkoff she will use her reporting skills to dig up compelling investment possibilities. “I’ll help identify the best stories delivered by start-ups,” she said.

As for CampEasy: “I’ll be hiring a VP of operations to handle day-to-day [operations], and I still happily own 90 percent of the company,” she said.

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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