Case: Le Tour de France as an event in Utrecht

Le tour de France is one of the three biggest cycling events in the world. It takes place mostly in France, but starts at a different city every year. This year the grand départ came back to Holland for the sixth time; a record! Utrecht was the elected city to host the event. How did the city of Utrecht get this event to take place in their city and how can you prepare for an event this big? I went to a press presentation where I got all these questions answered.

TDF Utrecht - normal_jpg_6176

Lobbying
It wasn’t easy to get the event to take place in Utrecht. It took the city 13 years; from the first idea written on a beer coaster to the actual event the beginning of July 2015. With a few setbacks, it wasn’t until a few years back it became clear Utrecht would be the host of the grand départ 2015. It wasn’t a coincidence that they chose the year 2015. It’s the perfect year to do this: there are no Olympics, World or European Championships. Everyone is focused on the tour as the biggest sport event of the year. It makes for maximum publicity.

Schermafbeelding 2015-09-20 om 12.47.30100 days of festivities
To get most out of the event Utrecht decided to expand the festivities from 3 to 100 days. Because, why not? All kinds of smaller events are organised that are in line with the cycling event. Think of sport days with primary schools and local cycle contests.

Doing it together
The scale of this event is enormous. Beforehand they expected 300,000 people, newspapers reported after the event that 350,000 people came to watch the grand départ. That’s a lot for a small city that is only used to events, for example King’s day, with 100,000 visitors. Together with local business owners, inhabitants and volunteers the city of Utrecht organised the event. Every little detail is taken care of: from enough water taps to garbage disposal to age bracelets to prevent underage drinking.

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List: New venues that opened in 2014

In 2014 a lot of venues, hotels and conference centres opened their doors. I’ve made a complete list for you. You’re welcome!

opening venue

Amsterdam
Hyatt Place Amsterdam Airport (read more)
Waldorf Astoria (read more)
Holiday Inn Amsterdam Arena Towers (read more)
Brooklyn Hotel Amsterdam (read more)
Max Brown Hotel (read more)
Volkshotel Amsterdam (read more)
ijVENUES (read more)

Rotterdam
Nhow Rotterdam (read more)
Ibis hotel Rotterdam (read more)

Noordwijk
Vesper beach hotel (read more)

Utrecht
TivoliVredenburg (read more)
Star Lodge Hotel Utrecht

Den Haag
Suite Novotel Den Haag City Centre (read more)

Leiden
Event & convention centre Leiden (Holiday inn) (read more)

Why your business event of 2015 should take place in Utrecht

2015 is going to be the year of Utrecht. With several new venue and site openings last summer, the city is ready for your business meeting and conference. Whether you are looking for small, intimate spaces or a large venue up to 100,000 square metre – Utrecht has just the spot you are looking for.

Netherlands, Utrecht (city). Neude

Mr. Holland_Utrecht_fiets_tour de franceTour de France
But not only meeting professionals know their way to Utrecht. In the summer of 2015 (July 4-7) the Tour de France Le Grand Départ and the first stage will take place at the Dom city.

Expect a lot of cycling fanatics, cosy fairs and experience the true Dutch ‘gezelligheid’.

All about Utrecht…
Since next year is going to be all about Utrecht you have to know where to meet, sleep, relax and eat. Utrecht is located at the very heart of Holland. The city offers a wide variety of meeting venues, hotels and inspirational conference rooms. Built around the Dom Tower and atmospheric canals it will be easy to find a venue with great views of the city’s activities.

TivoliVredenburg 2 Foto Juri Hiensch

TivoliVredenburg – picture by: Juri Hiensch

There’s always something new in Utrecht. For example, in June was the official opening of TivoliVredenburg. Not only a great new place for concerts and theatre, but also host of 5 large meeting spaces. Staying in Utrecht? You might want to consider NH Utrecht. The hotel is located at a walking distance of the most important sites and of the Jaarbeurs Utrecht, the biggest venue of the city. Looking for something smaller? Why not try CitySense, Domus Medica or Grand Hotel Karel V.

Leisure & incentive activities
Utrecht is a great place to spend a day. They have a broad range of museums, shopping areas, restaurants and sights. I can really recommend DOMunder, they offer guided tours through the underground cultural and historical centre full of archaeological treasures of the famous Dom Tower in Utrecht. But don’t forget the Centraal museum with it’s classic and modern pieces or the Dick Bruna House, House of Miffy and it’s maker. Everybody knows Miffy. The creation of the Utrecht illustrator, graphic designer and writer Dick Bruna (1927) is popular from Amsterdam to Tokyo. Picture books about miffy are read in numerous languages ​​around the world and miffy has become a real design icon. In 2015, Miffy celebrates her 60th birthday (20.06 – 20.09). It will be a great party of course! Where else than in Utrecht, her homeport. Will you also come to miffy’s party at Centraal Museum?

Netherlands, Utrecht (city), Oude Gracht

When you are in Utrecht it is almost impossible not to spot the famous canals and terraces. Don’t forget to visit the Dom Tower that is visible from the entire city. Have a look at the Winkel van Sinkel, one of Holland’s first department stores and the architectural highlight: Rietveld-Schröder house (UNESCO world heritage).

More information? Download the destination rapport about Utrecht. Or contact my colleagues at the Utrecht Convention Bureau, they will be happy to help you!

A day in… Utrecht

The city of Utrecht is located in the very heart of Holland. It is host of 3 important universities and therefore full with young people and students. Like Amsterdam Utrecht has a lot of canals. Whether you are planning your meeting here or just want to explore the city, spending the day in Utrecht gives you a lot of business and leisure options.

Utrecht

Facts
Utrecht is part of The Randstad and located in the heart of Holland
City rights since 1122
Population: 328,577

Getting there
Utrecht, thanks to it’s central location in Holland, is easy to reach via Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. From there you can take a train or car to Utrecht.

Meeting and business venues 
The city offers a wide variety of meeting venues, hotels and inspirational conference rooms. Built around the Dom Tower and atmospheric canals it will be easy to find a venue with great views of the city’s activities.

New
There’s always something new in Utrecht. For example; last week was the official opening of TivoliVredenburg. Not only a great new place for concerts and theatre, but also host of 5 large meeting spaces.

Classics
Staying in Utrecht? You might want to consider NH Utrecht. The hotel is located at a walking distance of the most important sites and of the Jaarbeurs Utrecht, the biggest venue of the city. Looking for something smaller? Why not try CitySense, Domus Medica or Grand Hotel Karel V.

Hidden secrets
How would you like a meeting in a cigar factory or monumental public school? There are many more inspirational and special venues in Utrecht. On our hidden secret page we collect all of them for you.

After your meeting
Utrecht is a great place to spend a day. They have a broad range of museums, shopping areas, restaurants and sights.

Museums
DOM under – Guided tours through the underground cultural and historical center full of archaeological treasures of the famous Dom Tower in Utrecht.
Centraal museum – Classic and modern pieces can be found here.
Dick Bruna House – House of Miffy and it’s maker.
Railway Museum – Trains, trains, trains!

Shopping areas

City centre – The city centre makes for some lovely shopping. The Lijnmarkt is a bustling, busy street with many fashion and shoe shops. Here you can catch glimpses of the beautiful Oude Gracht, which also boasts plenty of special fashion and jewellery shops.
Hoog Cataharijne – Hoog Catharijne is believed to be the biggest shopping centre in Holland. Linked to Utrecht Central Station, it is easily accessible and you will find a shop for everything you need.
Schoutenstraat and Korte Minrebroederstraat: Historical streets just outside the bustling shopping district, with small, exclusive shops. It’s an easy walk from the Neude, definitely worth the trouble!
Vredenburg Market – The largest market of Utrecht is held at Vredenburg. This is where you can buy fish, meat, vegetables, fruit, bread, belts, jackets, accessories and electronics. You are also in the right place for a bread roll with herring, a fresh treacle waffle or a bag of Dutch liquorice. Held on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the Vredenburg market counts between 75 and 125 stalls!

Restaurants

Casual or Michelin star restaurant? City vibe or intimate setting? A view at the canals or from the canals? Utrecht has it all. Throughout Utrecht you can find many restaurants. But these restaurants are very popular:

Le Connaisseur – monumental / terrace
RAAK! – flexible / central location
Deeg – classic / organic
De Goedheyd  – French / said to be the best restaurant in town

dom tower utrecht

Sights
When you are in Utrecht it is almost impossible not to spot the famous canals and terraces. Don’t forget to visit the Dom Tower that is visible from the entire city. Have a look at the Winkel van Sinkel, one of Holland’s first department stores and the architectural highlight: Rietveld-Schröderhuis.

A day in Utrecht.. 
With all these tips I am almost sure you need a few extra days of stay in Utrecht. Have fun and let me know your favourite part of the city!

Holland’s first King’s Day; what to do and where to go?

Queen’s Day, the day on which the Dutch used to celebrate Queen Beatrix’s birthday, was our favorite day of the year. Not only did we get the day off, but everyone celebrated it together! Queen Beatrix abdicated in 2013, in favour of her eldest son, Prince Willem-Alexander. Exit Queen’s Day, welcome King’s Day, the start of a new tradition. We will celebrate our first King’s Day on 26 April 2014.

King's day

Being in Holland during King’s Day will make your business meeting very special. The myriad festivities and the lovely spring weather will add creativity and pleasure to your sessions. There are a ton of things to do and see on the eve of King’s Day and on the day itself. We have a few great tips for you. I bet you will want to join next year!

Royal family walkabout
The royal family will visit Amstelveen and De Rijp, close to Amsterdam, on King’s Day 2014. During their visit, they will become acquainted with the various cultural and historical aspects of these two towns. The royals will also take part in music and sports festivities. The visits will be broadcast live on Dutch television.

Flea markets
Are you into vintage and budget treasures? On King’s Day there are flea markets in almost every city of the country. The right spot for your stall is conducive to selling all your second-hand items, therefore, many people claim their ideal spot a few days in advance.

A huge variety of goods is sold at the flea markets. Clothes, toys, furniture, games, and traditional foods. Join the Dutch on this special day and try the country’s favorite savory snack ‘bitter balls’,´ and the ever-popular stroopwafels (caramel waffles). This is the perfect day to taste all kinds of Dutch treats. Enjoy!

Party time
Pick your city and have some fun! It does not really matter which city you choose, as there are fun activities everywhere. Use our venue finder to easily find a place to stay.

Amsterdam
The party atmosphere in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam is unlike anything you have ever experienced internationally. All along the crisscrossing bridges and canals, revelers take to the streets in hilarious orange outfits, in honour of our national colour. This year, Amsterdam boasts four large open-air dance festivals. We recommend the Kingsland Festival in Amsterdam RAI. National and international DJs perform on four stages from 12 noon to 8:00 p.m. 

Rotterdam
It is hard to choose from all the great outdoor festivals and activities in Rotterdam. Pushed to pick one, we would opt for the spectacular fireworks at the river Maas. Close to the Erasmus bridge and the Euromast tower you can enjoy the end of your day with a bang! Are you spending the night? Enjoy beautiful views of the skyline in the recently opened Nhow Hotel on the opposite side of the river Maas.

Utrecht
If you stay in the center of Holland, in Utrecht, you will have a great time. Utrecht has lots of outdoor cafes adjacent to its canals. You can enjoy the scenery while having lunch or dinner. If you have your meeting on Friday 25 April, you can combine it with the King’s Day Eve party ’The revolution’ in the newly opened TivoliVredenburg venue.

The Hague
The Hague is the seat of the Dutch government and parliament, and famous for its King’s Day Eve festival. The ’Life I Live’ festival with its nine stages, is free of charge. The Hague is a city of rock music, so be prepared for some swinging rock ’n’ roll! Check our latest destination rapport The Hague for venues and restaurants. 

Groningen
Enjoy the golden oldies in Groningen’s city centre during the open-air ’Like the 80s & 90s’ festival. The festival takes place on Friday and Saturday night, and is free of charge. Do you need a place to stay? We recommend a local style ‘borg’ just outside the city, De Piloersema. It dates back to 1633 and is the only remaining farmhouse of its kind. Here you can have a private dinner or meeting, from ten to 80 people. Nice detail, the owners previously ran a Michelin-star restaurant, and strive to offer a top culinary experience for their guests.

Noordwijk
Why not enjoy the beach by day and dance by night at the royal dance party in Club Conversation? This club is located in the famous Grand Hotel Huis ter Duin in Noordwijk. Yes, you are right, the very same venue in which President Obama stayed during the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit! 

Competition winner
Last week we announced the winner of our ‘Check your details and win a trip to King’s Day in Holland’ competition. The winner will be joining us in Amsterdam to celebrate this fantastic historic event. In an orange outfit, of course! 

Watch the fun video of me selecting the winner. 

If you want more information about King’s Day, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to seeing your King’s Day selfies on our Facebook page!

Site Inspection in Utrecht: meet in the Heart of Holland

So far I have inspected Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague – the three biggest cities of Holland at the Dutch west coast. Looking for a more budget-friendly destination? Time to move further to the centre of my country. Utrecht, the 4th biggest city, is situated in the heart of Holland. Founded over 1,200 years ago, it is also one of the oldest Dutch cities, which is reflected in infrastructure and architecture. Utrecht’s landmark is the Dom Tower, a church tower on a big square that was once part of a Roman fortress.

Blog Holland Site Inspection Utrecht Dom

A city as old has Utrecht accumulates tons of knowledge. In fact, is home to many Dutch scientific and educational institutions and hosts one of the biggest and best universities in Holland. Due to 70,000 students, the city defies aging and maintains its young and dynamic character, attracting young and creative minds. Old knowledge gets updated on a regular base and combined with fresh and clever ideas. Utrecht Science Park for example is a place, where knowledge meets the newest technology. It is an inspiring environment where scientists and entrepreneurs from all over the world profit from close networking and integrating knowledge into practical applications.

Due to institutions like Science Park, Utrecht is the perfect destination to integrate existing knowledge into industrial perspectives. So if your meeting aims for creation of executable ideas and plans, Utrecht is a perfect destination.

Accessibility

Due to its central location, Utrecht is easily accessible for meeting delegates from abroad. From Amsterdam Schiphol Airport you travel only 30 minutes by train. If you depart in Paris, Brussels or Frankfurt, there are direct high-speed train connections provided by Thalys or ICE International. When you arrive at Utrecht Central Station you have excellent public transport opportunities to your venue. As most Dutch cities, Utrecht is quite compact, making traveling within the city quick and easy.

Venues

131026 Blog Holland Utrecht Night

Hidden Secrets

Venue:
Luno Meeting Centre, a tastefully decorated, pleasant venue, which offers great surroundings for small meetings and private talks.

Restaurant:
De Oude Muntkelder, an excellent location to try your first Dutch pancakes.

Activity: Trajectum Lumen, a guided walk along beautifully enlightened attractions of Utrecht by night.

131026 Blog Holland Utrecht Julianapark

After your meeting

Utrecht is full of historical attractions, so I definitely recommend you to participate in one of the guided city tours. Visit the historic part of the city centre and take a look inside the old churches from the Golden Age. You can also discover Utrecht by boat on the many canals. Or take a look upon the city after climbing the 465 stairs of the Dom Tower. If you need some time to relax afterwards, you can chill out in Julianapark, a rural park with a little zoo and loads of green. One of the most popular places in Utrecht is Winkel van Sinkel, one of the first department stores that opened in Holland. Nowadays it is a grand café and restaurant during the day and transforms into a club at night.

More questions?

Did I make you curious about Utrecht? If you want more information about meeting facilities in Utrecht you can contact my friends from Utrecht Convention Bureau. They can help you with many useful tips without charging a cent.