A new legend
The Grand Amsterdam’s total renovation programme has helped it to achieve the exclusive Sofitel ‘Legend’ status
With a heritage that is steeped deep in Amsterdam’s history, Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam offers the comfort and luxury of a world-class hotel, backed by a canal setting in the historical heart of the city. Dating back to 1578, the landmark building has accommodated Amsterdam Town Hall for centuries, which is particularly renowned as the venue for Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands’ wedding to Claus Von Amsberg in 1966. In addition to royalty, many other famous and prominent guests have passed through The Grand’s doors over the years, helping to further cement its leading reputation. Blending French elegance and grandeur with elements of Dutch style, The Grand is a unique combination of the different aspects of these cultures, forming a link between the hotel’s French heritage and local Dutch philosophy.
A division of the Accor Group, which operates over 4500 hotels worldwide, the Sofitel brand is internationally recognised as being synonymous with luxury accommodation across its exclusive network of 150 hotels. In June 2010, The Grand was selected to become the second Sofitel ‘Legend’ hotel in the world, and the first in Europe. An indication of outstanding quality, only hotels of significant age and heritage are awarded Legend status. This prestigious achievement not only recognises The Grand as a hallmark of the Sofitel brand, but also as a landmark in Dutch history.
This reputation is being further confirmed by The Grand’s recent 47 million euro renovation programme of 52 suites out of the hotel’s 177 luxury rooms. The substantial project was undertaken by renowned French architect Sybille De Margerie, who has also completed work on the Hotel de Crillon in Paris, and Hotel le Cheval Blanc in Courchevel, France. Elaborating on the investment and the reasons that prompted the programme, Robert-Jan Woltering, general manager says: “About four years ago Sofitel took the decision to become the leader in the luxury hotel market, so when The Grand was identified as a potential Legend we began to look into an investment programme to ensure we were meeting the standards associated with this status. Taking her inspiration from the lively colours and shapes of the painting ‘Questioning Children’ by Karel Appel, a member of the COBRA artist group, which hangs at the entrance to our restaurant, Bridges, Sybille translated this ideal throughout the hotel.
“By using aspects of our culture as the basis for the design process, Sybille has managed to retain and enhance both the French and Dutch characteristics of The Grand, which make it so distinctive. Additionally, she worked closely with students at the Eindhoven Design Academy to produce contributions for the guest rooms, such as bespoke cushions. These pieces are interlinked with the wall designs, which in turn refer to the historic figures who have stayed at The Grand, so it all keeps coming back to that heritage theme.”
Other recent developments within the business include the opening of a new urban spa complex in October 2010. Designed across two floors, the SoSpa offers a variety of treatments from around the world carried out by skilled therapists, as well as other facilities such as an indoor heated pool with jetstream, jacuzzi, sauna, hammam, and fitness centre. A key success for The Grand has been the launch of its seafood restaurant Bridges, which offers ‘Dutch fish with a French twist’, and is currently experiencing full capacity even on a weeknight. It is investments such as these, which contributed to The Grand’s fulfilment of one of its core ambitions last year when the World Travel Awards selected it as ‘Netherlands Leading Hotel 2010’.
With the hotel also receiving a number of other prestigious awards for design and services, Woltering highlights The Grand’s approach to customer satisfaction: “We strive to make each guest’s stay memorable, and this often comes down to a tailor-made service which really addresses the individual’s needs. We are the only hotel in Amsterdam with a full butler service, which demonstrates our belief that our services should reflect the quality and luxury of the hotel itself. Our success is down to our willingness to continue to raise the benchmark, as indicated by our vision to be one of the top 25 hotels in Europe by the end of 2011.”
Certainly this doesn’t seem like an overly ambitious target, when you consider the reputation The Grand has behind it. With Sofitel recently holding a general managers conference to redefine its strategy up to 2015, Woltering concludes with the vision for, not only Sofitel, but also The Grand: “From a global perspective, we are looking to grow the Sofitel brand further with the development of approximately 30 new hotels in major cities by 2015. Throughout the brand we are also focusing evermore on perfection across all aspects of service and this is something, which is filtered down to each and every staff member. Our staff are the key link between the hotel and the guest, and so are vitally important in achieving the sort of quality of service we aspire to. In line with this, Sofitel is looking at developing its own training centre for employees, which will set the standard for staff across all of its hotels. We truly want to be recognised as an iconic brand and I believe that we are on target to achieve this.”