A day in… Leiden

Leiden is a compact, historic city with a superb location: it is nestled right between Amsterdam, The Hague and Schiphol Airport. The Dutch beach and the world renowned tulip area are a beautiful bike ride away. Compared to the other Dutch cities Leiden may be a small convention city, but that is also part of its irresistable charm. Where else in the world do you find 13 museums, hotels and meeting venues within walking distance? Oh and have I mentioned the 28km/17mi of canals criss-crossing through the impressive city centre?

Leiden Witte Singel Sterrewacht Hortus Botanicus air photo

Witte Singel, Observatory and Hortus Botanicus in Leiden

Facts

Leiden has the highest concentration of museums in the Netherlands
Leiden is home to the Netherlands’ oldest university
Leiden has 28km/17mi of canals in the historic city centre
Leiden’s famous inhabitants include Rembrandt (born in Leiden), Einstein, Jan Steen and Armin van Buren
Population: 340,000 (greater Leiden area) / 25,000 students / 105 nationalities

Getting there

Leiden’s excellent location makes it very accessible for visitors. Schiphol Airport is only 15 minutes away and Rotterdam The Hague airport 25 minutes. Leiden’s Central Station is located in the city centre and a major transportation hub in Holland, making Leiden easily accessible from anywhere in the country.  In case you arrive in Leiden by car you have to know that the historic city centre is virtually car-free. But not to worry, there are various ‘Park & Ride’ facilities just outside the city centre with free shuttle buses operating daily. Special arrangements can also be made for larger groups of visitors.

Meeting and business venues

I can tell you right now that you will have a pretty hard time to select a venue for your meeting or convention in Leiden. Why? Because they are all equally impressive. Surround yourself in ancient history, meet at a modernised industrial factory, go back in time and stay at a castle, rent out an airplane hangar with a rotating stage, … See what I mean?

New

Naturalis Biodiversity Center is currently preparing its facilities to house a very special guest starting this fall: Europe’s first T-Rex skeleton. Modern (research) meets history doesn’t get better than this! But Naturalis isn’t the only venue (re-)opening in Leiden. Museum Lakenhal, home to many master pieces, will re-open its expanded and modernised doors in 2018. And De Meelfabriek (The Flour Factory), a former industrial building being transformed into an innovative, multi-purpose location, is set to be completed by the end of 2017.

Classic

Since Leiden is a historic city many of the meeting venues are housed in monumental or historic buildings. So a classic feel with the most up-to-date meeting facilities is something that most venues offer naturally. Let me give you a few examples. The Pieterskerk is a gothic-church-turned-monumental-event-venue that can host up to 2000 guests. If you are looking for classic yet modern the Nieuwe Energie (New Energie) might be the right venue for you. Or surround yourself with the beautfy of one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world: Hortus botanicus Leiden.

Pieterskerk Leiden

Pieterskerk Leiden

Hidden secrets

It almost feels like every location in Leiden is a hidden secret, but there are a few that might not be on your radar right away. For example, the Theatre Hangar in Katwijk, just outside of Leiden, which is a transformed airplane hangar with a rotating stage. And if you want to travel back in time Castle Oud-Poelgeest might be an excellent venue for your event. Head over to my hidden secrets page to find out more.

After your meeting

Leiden is an exceptional city to explore by foot. Wander along the canals, visit one of the 13 museums (including 4 National Museums) or indulge yourself in one of the restaurants and experience Dutch ‘gezelligheid’. Don’t blame me though if you don’t want to leave again!

Museums

Just to name a few:

Rijksmuseum van Oudheden – National Museum of Antiquities
Corpus – travel throught the human body
Museum Het Leids Wevershuis – one of the last remaining “weavers’ homes” and Leiden’s smallest museum
Sieboldhuis – Siebold’s former house is now the first official Japan centre in the Netherlands

Leiden CORPUS

Leiden CORPUS

Shopping areas

All over Leiden’s city centre you will find interesting specialty shops to spend your money in. Just stroll through the medieval cobblestone streets where you will find anything from home-made chocolate, jewellery, second hand clothing, antique book shops, art galleries, high-end stores and more. For a special view go to La Place Restaurant on the top floor of the V&D department store.

And if you happen to find yourself in Leiden on a Wednesday or Saturday you can’t miss out on visiting The Leiden Market, which expands along the Nieuwe Rijn, Botermarkt and Vismarkt right in Leiden’s city centre. It’s the place to get your Dutch cheese and sealed Dutch herring to take home – among many other things!

Restaurants

Leiden is home to people from 105 nationalities so no wonder that you will also find cuisine from all over the world here. Looking for the best place for Dutch pancakes? Go to the Beestenmarkt area. If you would like to mingle among Leiden’s locals go to one of the cafes near the Hoogland Kerk.

Do you want to be suprised by food and historical buildings alike? Then you might want to visit these restaurants and cafes:
De Waag, a weighing house dating back to 1657
Olivier, located in a former hospital
Het Prentenkabinet, built as a commandery in the 15th century
Stadscafe van der Werff, a former gentlemen’s club
Visbrasserie de Poort, located in one of the remainign city gates
Cafe de Bonte Koe, once meant to be a butchery

By the way, if weather permits, most restaurants and cafes create outdoor terraces.

Sights

Leiden is a sight by itself. Nonetheless, here are a few points of interest you might want to add to your not-to-miss list:

Muurgedichten (Poems on the Walls) – take a walking tour to discover some of the poems on the walls of Leiden’s buildings
Sterrenwacht – observe the stars at Leiden Observatory
De Burcht – climb up Leiden’s fort for a great view of the city
Hofjesroute – visit Leiden’s courtyards
Boating on the canals – not technically a point of interest in itself, but taking you along some of the aforementioned ones and offering you a beautiful view of Leiden from the water

Leiden canals

Leiden canals

A day in Leiden

Leiden may be a compact city, but you definitely need more than a day to discover everything it has to offer. My tip: just add a couple of days prior to or after your meeting to get most out of your stay in historic Leiden. You won’t regret it. That much I can promise.

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Hotel and venue openings in Holland in 2016

In 2015 we saw a record-number of new hotel and venue openings in Holland. It’s pretty safe to say that there won’t be quite as many openings in 2016, but we have quite a few to get excited about. Here are the meeting hotels and venues that we are expecting 2016:

Novotel Amsterdam Schiphol Airport – hotel

opened: December 2015

Novotel Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Novotel Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Technically, Novotel Amsterdam Schiphol Airport was the last hotel that opened in 2015. But since it was literally on the verge of 2016 I would like to include them in the 2016 list as well.

Novotel Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, part of the Accor Hotels Group, is conveniently located between Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and the city centre. This means it can be easily reached from the airport, while Amsterdam’s city centre is just around the corner as well. The modern hotel offers 17 meeting rooms with a capacity of up to 360 people. With 1.300m2/1.400ft2 flexible meeting space Novotel Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is suitable for large- and small scale events.

Best Western City Hotel Woerden – hotel

expected opening: February 2016

Bird's Eye view of Woerden

Bird’s Eye view of Woerden

The Best Western City Hotel Woerden is a smaller hotel located right in the scenic, so-called green heart of Holland right between the cities Utrecht and Gouda. If you are looking for a meeting hotel outside the hustle and bustle of the major cities Woerden is a very suitable location. The hotel is located in a scenic and historical environment and the local castle is just a short walk away. Utrecht is reachable by train in just 10 minutes. Best Western City Hotel Worden offers a meeting room with space for up to 40 people.

A’DAM – venue

expected opening: Spring 2016

A'DAM toren and EYE Film Museum at night

A’DAM toren and EYE Film Museum at night

A’DAM is an eye-catching tower behind Amsterdam’s Central Station and right next to the equally eye-catching EYE Film Institute. The tower was originally comissioned by Royal Dutch Shell who used the location from 1971 – 2009. After extensive reconstruction A’DAM will re-open as multi-functional venue in the spring of 2016. Besides offices, A’DAM will be home to cafes, restaurants a hotel (Sir Adam, see below), an observation point and a revolving restaurant. It is safe to say that A’DAM offers the best 360 degree view of Amsterdam you will find. Getting to A’DAM is already part of the experience as you’ll have to take a ferry accross the IJ River. Whether you’ll be organizing your next event there or taking your delegates over for dinner or drinks, you will definitely make a lasting impression.

By the way, A’DAM is also short for ‘Amsterdam Dance and Music’ to reflect the business of its main tentants: world renowned Dutch music industry companies ID&T, AIR Events and Massive Music.

Sir Adam – hotel

expected opening: Summer 2016

A'DAM toren with Amsterdam skyline view

A’DAM toren with Amsterdam skyline view

Sir Adam is the newest addition to SIR Hotels’ collection of luxury and boutique hotels and the little brother of the award winning Sir Albert, SIR Hotels’ first hotel in Amsterdam. The hotel will be located in the aforementioned A’DAM tower.

Besides aproximately 110 guest rooms the Sir Adam will offer plenty of creative space, a restaurant, terrace and destination bar. And while not much detail about the hotel is known yet, one thing is certain: Sir Adam will offer the most compelling skyline views of Amsterdam.

Mate Bruno Rotterdam – hotel

expected opening: Fall 2016

Mate Bruno Rotterdam

Mate Bruno Rotterdam

After opening its first Dutch venue in Amsterdam, Spanish hotel chain Room Mate chose Rotterdam for its second hotel in Holland. Mate Bruno will be located at the Wilhelminapier in Rotterdam in a historic building that was used to store tea back in the days. I’m very happy that during the reconstruction all characteristic and monumental elements of the building will be kept. The 4*-hotel will offer about 230 rooms and plenty of meeting facilities (details to follow). Not to forget a spectacular roof terrace with a beautiful view of Holland’s most impressive skyline.

And since its Spanish roots are important to the chain, there will be a Spanish market hall, a ‘mercado’, with several stores and eateries located on the main floor of the building. A touch of Spain in Rotterdam. Vamos a Mate Bruno en Rotterdam!

Postillion Hotel Amsterdam – hotel and conference centre

expected opening: September 2016 (conference centre) & September 2017 (hotel & additional conference space)

Postillion Hotel Amsterdam artist impression

Postillion Hotel Amsterdam – artist impression

Dutch hotel chain Postillion Hotels will open its first location in Amsterdam in 2016. In September the brand new conference centre will opens its doors for up to 2.000 delegates. The conference centre will also host an exhibition space and flexible work spaces. A smart move from Postillion Hotels who will strenghten its position on the Dutch meeting and conference market with this new location. The adjacent hotel will open a year later, in September 2017, offering 300 rooms and additional meeting space for up to 2.000 people. Postillion Hotel Amsterdam’s location in Amsterdam North is very convenient for business travelers: Central Station, RAI Amsterdam and major highways are close by and there is ample parking space.

Park Inn by Radisson Amsterdam City West – hotel

expected opening: early 2017

Park Inn by Radisson Amsterdam City West

Park Inn by Radisson Amsterdam City West

Technically, the new Park Inn by Radisson Amsterdam City West is not opening in 2016, but in early 2017. I still think it’s well worth the mention already. Located just outside Amsterdam’s city centre, Park Inn by Radisson Amsterdam City West is situated near multiple transport options, including train, tram, bus and major highways and offers plenty of on-site parking space. The hotel’s flexible meeting facilities include a ballroom, 17 meeting rooms and break-out areas. Park Inn by Radisson Amsterdam City West will offer just short of 500 Standard and Superior Rooms and Suites.

More hotels opening in Holland in 2016

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)

Design an event in Holland and watch your dreams come true!

Say goodbye to sleepless nights searching for perfect destinations. Holland has all the ingredients dreams are made of for professional event managers.

dreaming of holland

For a small northern European country, roughly the size of the American state of Delaware, the Netherlands is full of inspiration, style and international allure. With our world-renowned museums, state-of-the-art modern venues and our range of international cuisines we are a country for everyone’s flavour. Whatever kind of scenario you might be dreaming of, Holland can provide both the means and the expertise for you to design your perfect event.

ACCESSIBILITY
Are you seeking a location that’s both accessible and central, on a global scale? We’re easy to reach via Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport, one of the largest and most efficient airports in the world. High-speed rail lines connect us to a variety of European neighbouring countries, while cruise ships make frequent visits to the ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

CULTURE
Holland’s culture is rich and diverse. Have your pick: the traditional Dutch Masters of painting or modern day recognisable simplified Dutch interior design. And don’t forget our influence to today’s dance music and fashion. Sail along traditional windmills or try some winter skating on natural ice. And once you work up an appetite, enjoy the taste of world-class, Michelin star restaurants across the country.

VENUES
While learning to control water coming from the sea and rivers, we’ve also learned a thing or two about constructing. Many of our 17th century architectural gems now boast every modern convenience you could ever desire. Still, architectural masterpieces such as our gleaming Eye Film Institute, the new jewel of Amsterdam’s harbour, continues to fascinate every visitor. From intimate countryside hotels, to metropolitan city meeting spaces and convention centres, we can cater every need. No problems – straight from your worst nightmare. Only tailor made, dream solutions.

COMPACT
We use our small size to our best advantage. We’re easy to get around via highways, rail lines and canals, since Holland is only 300 km in length and 200 km wide. This means the travelling distance from Amsterdam to Utrecht is only 30 minutes, Rotterdam 45 and Groningen, all the way in the north, still less than two hours. Because we are small, we have to think smart. Therefore, almost everyone speaks fluently English.

We’ll be at the Holland Meeting Point (Stand F30) at EIBTM Barcelona. We invite you to personally meet our friendly Dream Team of event planners to find out exactly why Holland is such a dreamy destination. On the stand you’ll find representatives from Regional Convention Bureaus, Destination Management Companies, Convention Centres, Hotel Chains, Individual Hotels, Special Venues and Travel Solutions. Myself, and the rest of the Dutch partners, look forward to meet you!

The hottest meeting trends for 2014 – part 2

With a brand new year lying ahead, we are all looking for opportunities to improve our business and tackle challenges. Therefore it is important to be aware of recent developments and growing trends. In my last blogpost started to make a prediction about the most relevant trends for 2014. Here is part 2 of my conclusions.

Please let me know how you feel about this.

pope-election_a-sea-of-screens

Green meetings
Like hybrid events, sustainability has been a growing trend for years affecting all industries. Benefits like reduced costs and better PR have driven many companies to develop and implement a strategy for more eco-friendly and socially responsible businesses. Since meetings and events have a high pollution factor, planners and suppliers are forced to look for more sustainable alternatives. During the last years, many suppliers, including hotels, venues and caterers have made huge steps to provide greener meetings. This increases pressure on other parties: planners have to acknowledge and support these efforts by making sustainability a serious selection factor for suppliers.

WiFi for everyone
Compared to the US, European venues are a bit stingy with providing free, stable WiFi. However, planners and visitors will more frequently expect this service. Visitors want to share pictures and impressions of the event with the world outside. Planners want to support the sharing, since it is the best promotion they could dream of. Venues are still hesitating because they fear the high costs. Planners can help them to earn their investments back by making free WiFi an selection factor for venues.

Real time analytics
Even though the crisis seems to start fading out, ROI was still one of the most heard words this year. Meetings planners feel more and more pressure to report the effciency of every cent they invested. As a consequence, we are getting crazy about numbers. Any factor that can be measured is carefully monitored and analyzed. Thanks to modern technology, measuring goes better than ever. Like Julius Solaris writes in his blog, “Those startups that offer live analytics such as heat maps, preferences and check-in based analytics will make an impact in 2014.“

Crowdsharing
Like crowdsourcing becomes a popular method to gather ideas, crowdsharing will become the new way to spread them. Instead of promoting your event on your own channels exclusively, you let your own fans do the work. They can spread your message quicker and further, than your marketing could ever reach. Planners can use this trend by providing visitors with as much sharable content as possible. Provide special, funny or exciting experiences to get their phones with camera function out of their pockets and leave the rest to them. Crucial condition: free WiFi.

What do you think about these trends? I’d love to hear your opinion about them. All feedback is welcome, so don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

Find the best venue for your kick off meeting

Only a few weeks to go before the year 2013 comes to an end. Companies all over the world are planning kick-off events and christmas parties. Most of these events will take place in a special venue, away from the familiar office environment. When choosing a venue for your event, many factors play a role, like location, price, size and relationships with the suppliers. While all these factors are important, many planners forget another crucial aspect.

As the Dutch meeting planners Mike van der Vijver and Eric de Groot write in their book „Into the heart of meetings“, the venue you choose can have a substantial impact on the success of your meeting. The size and look of the room, a building and its surroundings influence, how we feel and behave: when you enter a church you act differently than when you visit a pub. Use the impact of your venue to support the goals of your kick-off event. Make yourself clear which message you want to bring across during the meeting and then choose your venue wisely. In this blogpost I share some tips for great venues when…

Blog Holland Venues Mill

… you look back on a very successful year:

You got the big project this year, you made more profits than all competitors or you celebrated a 10th anniversary. Big milestones in the history of your company deserve a special location. Historical venues often have an impressive and festive charisma and your guests will instinctively know, that this is a special event.

Hidden Secret: ‘Kyck over den Dyck’ is a 300-year old windmill close to Rotterdam. In contrast to deluxe meeting rooms, the mill has a warm and cosy atmosphere, which is perfect for small celebrations.

More venues: Holland has many great historical venues. Click here to view my favourites.

Blog Holland venues creative

… you search for new product ideas:

You want to use 2014 to come up with innovative products and services. Therefore, your employees need inspiration that brings their creative juices to flow. To stimulate their creative and imaginary brain cells, you must take them away from the familiar and common and show them something extraordinary.

Hidden Secret: The Playing circle in Amsterdam can help you get your employees out of their routine circle. Next to an old rubber factory, a concert hall and a theatre, this group can offer you a variety of stylish venues with a homely charme.
More venues: Since many Dutch people work in the creative industry, Holland has a variety of creative venues. Check my tips for inspiration.

Blog Holland venues industrial

… you need to cut costs.

Low budget for 2014? Or do you think that your company could work more efficiently? Your employees might have great ideas how to cut costs and save money but you need to bring them into the right mood. Industrial venues are a great place to talk about development and efficiency. Old factories remind us of the great productivity and thriving economy from earlier times and stimulate goal-oriented thinking.
Hidden Secret: Van Nelle in Rotterdam was a great coffee, tea and tobacco factory and its building is European Cultural Heritage. The spectacular views from the tea room will impress visitors.
More venues: Holland has many industrial venues that show off the new Dutch Realism Movement. Let me show you my favourites.

Blog Holland green

… you want to become more sustainable.

More and more companies are discovering the benefits of  sustainability. If you want to jump into this trend, you will need the support of the whole company. A natural, green venue in a beautiful place could help stimulate their green thinking.
Hidden Secret: The Glass House is a pleasant meeting place surrounded by peaceful gardens. Part of this venue was built in a former greenhouse.

More venues: Looking for a green venue in Holland? My digital venue finder can help you.

I hope that these tips help you find the right venue for your kick-off event. Do you have other suggestions for great venues? Please let me know.