A star burning bright
With its three award winning and highly respected hotels in The Netherlands continuing to experience a rise in demand, Starwood Hotels and Resorts foresee a big future for its Dutch operations
One of the world’s largest hotel and leisure companies, Starwood Hotels and Resorts conducts its business directly and through its various subsidiaries. Brand names operating under the same banner include St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Westin, W, Four Points by Sheraton, Element and Sheraton, and it is through these names that Starwood Hotels and Resorts maintains a leading presence in many of the major markets around the world. As of December 31, 2010, the company’s hotel portfolio included a total of 1027 owned, leased, managed and franchised hotels with approximately 302,000 rooms in 100 countries.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts first entered the Dutch market in 1997 with the opening of the Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel, explains Kurt Renold, area
director of Starwood Hotels and Resorts. At the same time the company acquired the Hotel Pulitzer in Amsterdam. Then, when Starwood acquired the Le Méridien brand in 2006, it took on the Hotel Des Indes, located in The Hague.
As Kurt highlights, the hotels operated by the company in The Netherlands differ in not just brand name, but also in the style of hospitality they provide and the typical clientele they serve: The Pulitzer and the Hotel Des Indes are both part of the company’s Luxury Collection. Both of these hotels, together with renovations, were successfully rebranded into this market segment following their acquisitions from Sheraton and Le Méridien respectively, and both are truly unique destinations within their respective cities.
World heritage site
“Hotel Pulitzer is a one-of-a-kind hotel that consists of 25 canal houses, situated within the UNESCO world heritage site of the Amsterdam Canal Zone. These canal houses go back to the middle ages and are all connected making the facility the perfect leisure destination for upscale corporate clients. Due to its location the Pulitzer also caters for a vast number of tourists, so what it finds is that is has a high occupancy all year round, with corporate guests staying during the week and tourists occupying the facility as weekends and during holiday periods.”
Being a small palace, Hotel Des Indes is renowned as one of the finest hotels in The Hague, with its 92 rooms catering mostly for embassy staff, high-level corporate visitors and dignitaries. The oldest hotel in the region, Hotel Des Indes recently celebrated its 130-year anniversary: “The Hotel Des Indes really is a beautiful building, boasting its own special style that mixes the traditional with the modern,” Kurt enthuses.
Situated alongside the country’s main transport hub, Amsterdam’s airport, the Sheraton offers large meeting facilities and over 400 rooms that allow it to cater for overflow from the city: “The Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel is the only hotel linked directly to each of the airport’s terminals, giving it a prime advantage over others in the area. Being the only hotel within the terminal complex itself the hotel is in a prime position to host fly-in, fly-out meetings, which makes it a particularly convenient destination for business travellers, one that was officially recognised at the World Travel Awards in October 2010 as ‘Europe’s Leading Airport Hotel,” Kurt says.
In order to remain a leading figure within such a competitive industry, Starwood Hotels and Resorts is fully aware of the need to conduct an ongoing programme of re-investment, an attitude that expands across the company’s entire hotel portfolio. Recent upgrades and refurbishment projects undertaken in The Netherlands include the servicing and improvement of air conditioning systems at Hotel Pulitzer this year. At the Sheraton airport hotel, 75 per cent of the rooms have been fully renovated, as have all the corridors, carpets, wall fixtures and lighting appliances. The Hotel Des Indes, meanwhile, currently doesn’t have any big renovations planned, simply because it underwent a complete makeover five years ago.
In catering for slightly different client groups, it is understandable that the three hotels Starwood Hotels and Resorts operate in The Netherlands offer different culinary experiences: “At the Hotel Des Indes guests will be treated to possibly the most unique food and beverage experience found in any of the company’s three Dutch hotels,” Kurt continues. “Its lounge restaurant offers a feast of French dishes, each with an Asian touch, but the big signature product on offer is unquestionably high tea. This is what can be best described as a destination product and one that regularly sells out at the weekend.
“At Hotel Pulitzer the concept was actually changed two years ago in a bid to attract more outside guests to the restaurant. Located in one of the hotel’s many canal houses, the restaurant has its own entrance and can be found at the heart of the tourist district. The new restaurant follows a grill concept, offering good quality food options, and is called Keizersgracht 238. Visitors to Hotel Pulitzer can also now look forward to the re-opening of the hotels’ fully redesigned and renovated bar.”
As Kurt elaborates, the location of the Sheraton airport hotel creates a slightly different situation: While the Sheraton does cater for outside visitors for lunch and via a runway café, dinner here is very much an in-house affair. Here the hotel offers food to suit most international tastes while providing a calm, relaxed atmosphere that really goes down well with the guests. One thing that does link the three hotels in The Netherlands however is the company’s commitment to sourcing food that is fresh and produced locally.
Although Kurt is the first to admit that business in 2009 and 2010 did encounter difficulties as a result of the global economic crisis, he is confident that Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ operations in The Netherlands, through their drive to provide unrivalled service and their loyalty incentive programmes, can now prepare for a much more positive future: “Amsterdam is historically a market that suffers the effects of economic turmoil early on, but in turn responds very fast to change and this has been proven again in 2011 with business levels now rising towards pre-recession levels.
“It is because of the company’s confidence in the market that Starwood Hotels and Resorts can certainly foresee a future where it will look to add additional properties in Amsterdam. Whether this comes in the form of a W hotel or perhaps a Four Points by Sheraton, situated in a more suburban area, there are many great possibilities for Starwood Hotels and Resorts to expand and capitalise on the many opportunities The Netherlands has to offer.”