ITB 2024 Special Reporting
Amsterdam Has Got It - Part 1.
By Hugo R Mechelse
Friday, 22nd February 2013
Always known for its experiments, red light district, canals, and easy going life style, please note that also new hot hotels are swamping the city of Amsterdam.

In a city centre where not much room is left for big hotels, small boutique hotels can be found in many places. And they are certainly worthwhile to stay. Amsterdam has got it!

Take Sir Albert. Just opened in January with a restaurant that is already fully booked every night, and with rooms that put you at ease and in another world. De beds are very comfortable and like at home, you have got your radio, alarm clock and i-pot station The design by BK Architects is trendy, relaxed and very efficient in the not too big rooms, where dark colours prevail.  Also here the new trend of the dressing table in the room has been executed very tastefully. The shower room is comfortably spacey. In fact, the overall experience is such that you don't feel yourself as staying in a hotel at all. 

And that is just what this boutique hotel is all about, as you are supposed to  stay in the private residence of Sir Albert. Shortly they will have a health centre next door, as part of this ‘mansion'. The staff is attentive and ready to connect with you. Not something I had expected from a Dutch hotel.

Here, the experience is definitely ‘international', meeting the standards travellers would expect. On top of all this the location is well chosen, at the start of the famous Amsterdam flee market, the Albert Cuyp market. For all this you take little start-up issues like no snack with the wine in the lounge, or a limited room-introduction for granted. It will be right shortly.

Generally speaking Holland is not famous for its hospitable attitude. Dutch people are very relaxed, an attitude that is often experienced as un-interested, not sophisticated and certainly not serviceable. True, but there certainly is change in the air. The new boutique hotels in Amsterdam are a good example of this and. as I may hope, an example that will soon be followed by the larger hotels.

For sure, not all boutique hotels are up to standard yet, as I experienced in an another new hotel in Amsterdam. Upon checking out, a standard script is to thank the guest for their stay and to wish them a pleasant onward journey or day.

This has become so standard that in this particular case, this script was uninterestingly uttered while the member of staff, or to be more precise the Front Office Manager in person, was already occupied in repairing her stapler, totally losing interest in the guests still standing in front of her desk. I had thought and hoped that the standard ‘rule' of focussing on your guest till the end is just a standard ‘rule'.

For me, and this is something I coach my students in as well,  it is even a base line of common sense and normal courtesy. Seemingly unimportant trivial items can become big and an irritation when not looked after. This is not unique to Holland, nor to any other area in the world. All over the world it is an area of my concern as usually it comes from the management not giving the correct example.

Design and atmosphere are important in any hotel but in the end it is the passion to serve others that makes the difference for every guest. Something you have to work on daily. Especially as management. 

Hugo R Mechelse is managing director of International Butlers. IB offers training and consultancy services. Training covers personalised service courses for high-end hospitality staff, private households, cruise ships, and private yachts. Consultancy, among others, covers mystery visits and establishing signature Butler Service Departments. All training and consultancy is taken with the luxury feeling in the guest experience as final objective.

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