An interview with Désirée Stoops

Who: Désirée Stoops

Position: Senior Guest Service Assistant at The Dylan Amsterdam

 

How long have you been at The Dylan? And can you describe your role?

This year is actually my fifth year at The Dylan. My role is quite varied, which I really enjoy. I love being busy with all kinds of things. As the Senior Guest Services Assistant, GSA for short, I am responsible for all of the reception tasks – so check-in, check out, registration work and assisting as a host. But I am also the certified trainer for new front office colleagues and trainees. I take the lead whenever we have a new member joining our team, acting as their guide and point of contact during their training. Together with the HR department, I also do interviews for new front office trainees.

Have you always wanted to work in hospitality?

Since I was a child, it has always been my dream to work in a hotel. I don’t know why! I’ve just always wanted to do what I do. I studied hotel management in Antwerp and my love of hospitality was solidified during my traineeship in Amsterdam. Hospitality is really my passion and I go to work every day with a smile.

What does a typical day look like?

First things first, arriving at work means checking emails, confirming the arrivals and departures of the day, and to see if there is anything special on the agenda. When I am at reception, the full day begins already with conducting check-ins and check-outs, answering the phone, helping guests. When there is a trainee, they shadow me during the day and I guide them through their role until they are fully trained. I teach them how to be a receptionist in a five-star hotel. And every trainee is different, so that makes it fun and challenging to get every trainee to the high standard that we maintain at The Dylan.

I assume you work closely with the concierges?

The two people in the front office are the GSA and the concierge, so we work closely together on a daily basis. It’s very important to have a good working relationship because it’s our goal to reach that high level of service, and that can only happen if we work as a team. We want to have the guest 100% happy and we always want to be one step ahead of them in order to surprise them throughout their stay. So we are always communicating to make the process as smooth as possible.

Can you walk us through the typical arrival and departure experience of a guest at The Dylan?

As a GSA, I accompany the guest throughout the whole process of their stay, starting with the welcome and ending with the goodbye. When the guests arrive, the concierges go out to meet and welcome them, to assist with luggage, and to guide them to the front desk where the GSA will be waiting. Our check-in process is quite flexible, we offer the guest to have a seat so that they can enjoy our beautiful welcome refreshment. This is usually a drink and a snack prepared daily in our kitchen, and it’s different depending on the time of day. For example, in the morning we could offer tea with a delicious madeleine, and in the evenings a fresh drink and classic Dutch herring.

During the check-in, we confirm all of the guest’s details, including if they booked any tours or reserved a table at a restaurant. Afterwards, we show them to their room, pointing out all the hotel amenities they might make use of during their stay. Some guests have many questions, others prefer to arrange things themselves. We try to keep preferences for each guest in mind during their stay to accommodate them personally.

To prepare for check out, we ask guests if they want a wake-up call or for us to arrange a taxi. The check out then is as smooth as possible. If everything is settled, they can almost just walk out. All in all, it’s an exceptional experience, which is very important for people who are on holiday.

In your opinion, what makes the experience at The Dylan so unique?

It’s the staff and the product working in tandem. As soon as you walk into The Dylan, you’re not in the busy city anymore, you’re in an oasis, a beautiful, historic building where you can truly relax. The atmosphere is quintessentially Amsterdam, with the canal just out front, bikes passing by as you lookout. And every room of the hotel is exceptionally designed, every corner reveals something comfortable.

All of the staff at The Dylan go the extra mile. We keep each other accountable and help push each other to maintain the service at the highest quality. We always try to be one step ahead and make the guest feel at home in a warm, happy atmosphere.

What is your favourite part of what you do?

Definitely making the guest happy. When I see that they appreciate our service and care, that’s the most rewarding feeling. It’s really nice knowing that we all did a good job.

What is your most memorable story involving a guest?

There are so many good ones! But one that really stands out is when we had a VIP guest staying with us. I was on the night shift and she called down for the room service menu, with many lovely dishes – but she said she just wanted a sandwich with peanut butter! It’s not on the menu, but we had some in the staff kitchen. But I thought, ‘We can’t give that to her, it’s from the staff kitchen!’ But I called her up and she was totally fine with it, she just wanted this sandwich. So I made her this really nice peanut butter sandwich and she was so happy. Sometimes it’s those little things that give the most joy.

What are your favourite places in Amsterdam to recommend?

One current favourite is this restaurant called Choux near Central Station. I went with my family and we all loved it and still talk about it. I like all of the local bars, the kind of typical Dutch cafes where you can have a beer and some bites. You can find me in Michelin star restaurants and breweries – I love trying everything and that makes it easy to recommend places to our guests. One place I love – and not just because I work here – is Vinkeles. It’s simply fantastic and I am already looking forward to eating there again. It’s convenient that I work so close!

 

Dry January X The Dylan Amsterdam

Happy 2021! It’s that time of the year again in which we set our good intentions for the New Year. One might wish to visit the gym more often or consider drinking less for a while. That last one can be really hard, it is difficult to say no to a cocktail, especially in social situations with friends. But what if we can make life a bit easier?

At The Dylan Amsterdam we care about the well-being of our guests and we always strive to create memorable moments that last a lifetime. Even in Dry January we help guests create those moments, while you can still enjoy your favorite drinks but than in a healthy way!

Bar Brasserie OCCO has several non-alcoholic cocktails which will make Dry January a lot easier. Try our VIR”GIN”, a homemade non-alcoholic gin, served on the rocks with lime and Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic. Do you prefer sweetness? Choose our “playtime” cocktail, with passionfruit, peach juice, ginger beer and agave. Your partner does not like cocktails? No worries, we serve non-alcoholic beers as well!

For the non-alcoholic cocktail menu or to make a reservation click here. 

Vinkeles X Bakkerij MAMA

An interview with Karel Goudsblom, Bakkerij MAMA

Tell us more about you

Bakkerij MAMA is a bakery where we sell artisan bread and pastry for regular consumers and companies as The Dylan Amsterdam. The bakery was set up in December 2011 and started from the kitchen of my house. After working as a cook for a long time where I actually always baked bread, I started supplying bread to the catering industry. Good and healthy bread is my starting point, made from stone ground organic flour without additives. From the start, the telephone was ringing all the time and I was approached from all sorts of angles. This was unbelievable because I wasn’t really a baker, I didn’t have any training for this. I learned everything from YouTube.

At Bakkerij Mama they don’t just bake bread like a bakery expects, Mama is more. We make beautiful and healthy products in which every ingredient and every talent comes into its own. The bread is made from locally grown organic wheat, spelt and rye. Artificial additives or bread improvers will therefore not be found in Mama’s bread. The bakery also has an educational programme where students receive training in setting up a traditional bakery. Of course with Mama’s starting points: honest, simple and clear.

How did the cooperation start?    

The cooperation with The Dylan Amsterdam started in 2014 and has been very good from the start. I like to make things especially for a dish or restaurant and together with chef Dennis Kuipers a good cooperation was established. I like it when there a lot of opportunities and changes and this is the case with Dennis and that resulted in special products.

Bakkerij Mama currently supplies about ninety restaurants and The Dylan is one of them. We also prefer not to enter into many more collaborations because Mama likes to enter into real and long-term partnerships.

In restaurant Vinkeles, we serve a ryebread made by Bakkerij Mama. Why does this bread fit so well with Vinkeles?   

Dennis Kuipers is looking for a taste sensation that, on one hand, gives you an old feeling (of eating together and dipping bread in your sauce, nice and soft) and, on the other hand, a feeling that allows you to experience a higher culinary sensation. So I had to look for a soft taste but not the average sticky bread. In the end I mixed rye flour with two kinds of wheat flour and a dough and this is where the rye ball originated from. A good crust and very soft inside. This process is very difficult because there are no additives in the bread. Palm fat, for example, is often used to keep bread soft and long-lasting, but we do not use this.

What is your own favourite bread?

I like a typical French bread with pain de seigle, nice light brown bread and not too sour but with a lot of depth in the taste. I don’t like neutral bread. I know it’s important to have a certain neutrality in your bread as an accompaniment to the meal, but I myself like a fuller flavour.

 

The perfect 48 hours in Amsterdam by Joeki Genet

Day 1

Best thing after waking up is to treat yourself with a coffee in Oud West at “Trakteren”. Stroll through the nine streets in direction of Spui and visit the American book center or Hoogstins Bookstore in the Kinkerstraat. Feeling a bit hungry? Enjoy some sourdough bread at Bakery Levain et le vin or if you prefer bagels, try one at Flo’s Appetizing!

Rent a bike and cycle towards the Noordermarkt. At Saturdays it is worth to visit the Farmers Market for fresh biological products or go around the corner to the Lindengrachtmarkt for your weekend groceries.  On Monday morning the Noordermarkt has flea market for vintage clothing and other unique products.

Have a delicious sandwich at Smallworld or sit on the terrace of Café Thijssen and order a “tosti”.  In the mood for a local beer? Café de Tuin in the Jordaan is perfect to have some drinks with friends before you go to an early concert at Melkweg or Paradiso. Of course an Ajax match at the Johan Cruyff Arena can’t be missed from the list.  Have dinner after at  Kien at Witte the Withplein and end the evening in Cafe ‘t Loosje or Club NL.

 

Day 2

In need of a good coffee to start this day? Take a coffee to go at Lot61 and visit one of the many boutiques in the 9-streets or one of my favourite shops; Fillipa K, Baskets, Sneaker District, Paul Smith. If you would like to take something home for your loved ones, buy some flowers at the Pompon or go to the Logie for a beautiful bottle of wine. Reload during brunch at Wilhelmina and try the Reuben or Floris sandwich! After, take a long walk in the beautiful Vondelpark or just sit on a bench an watch the day go by. Have some “bitterballen” or a Special beer at Brewery ‘t Ij / Blauwe Theehuis. Too early for a beer? They have some delicious hot chocolate as well.

Bar Parry is a perfect bar to start your evening with some good wine and some snacks. For dinner go to the Golden Brown bar which is one of the hottest spots on the Westside of Amsterdam and it’s known for their good Thai food. Or if you are a fan of Ramen, try some at Betsubara or Otemba!

 

Savor The Charm Of Our Secluded Garden!

Savor the charm of Amsterdam’s most beautiful secluded Garden Terrace. The spacious and recently renovated Secluded Garden of The Dylan Amsterdam truly is a hidden gem. An oasis of calm in the 9 streets area of Amsterdam.

Guests are surrounded by typical 18th century Amsterdam architecture in the comfortable courtyard. Guests may enjoy breakfast, lunch, High Wine, drinks or dinner throughout the day. A great spot for an afternoon or evening of culinary indulgence with friends or family.

RESERVATION

GIFT CARD

An Interview with Jurgen van der Zalm

Who: Jurgen van der Zalm
What: Chef de Cuisine at Vinkeles
Age: 33
 
What does your function entail?
I take care of everything that has to do with Vinkeles. You will find me in the kitchen five evenings a week.I am in charge of the team and I develop the dishes that go on our menu. I discuss everything with Dennis, he has to approve of the dishes I come up with. Creating the menus and tasting the food is something we do together.

How long have you been working here?
Eleven years. I did work a year for the Amstel Hotel in between. I felt I needed to see other places to learn. But when Dennis started here, also after having worked at the Amstel Hotel, he called me to ask me to come back and I did.

How do you start your day?
We come in around 10.30 am. We, that is me and the boys, about seven for Vinkeles and three for OCCO. We all sit down and have a sandwich and we talk about the day ahead, and the evening before. There is also time to just chat about little things. After, the real work begins; the mise en place. I don’t cook myself anymore, but I oversee the process. I taste every dish and while the guys cook I work on new recipes. I try to keep involved with the cooking as much as I can. I would love to do it all by myself, but that is impossible. So I have to let go a little, while ensuring that we maintain our level of quality. I am definitely a bit of a control freak. Everything has to be exactly the same, that is what is expected on this level.

What is the best moment of your day?
Near the end of service. I often stand around the corner where I can see into the restaurant. Everyone looks relaxed, no ones pays attention to me and I see how our guests are enjoying their evening. I like that. At the start of the evening people don’t know what to expect, it takes a little time before they unwind.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I am not the kind of person to sit at home a lot. What I like is exploring new places, so I go on city trips, here in the Netherlands or around Europe. I go out for dinner, do fun things, enjoy life. My last city trip was to Rome. It was my first time and I thought it was amazing. My girlfriend knows it well there so she showed me everything in one weekend. We ate in small restaurants, little local joints that you will pass in the street without ever thinking to stop. Those are often the best; an old chef in the kitchen, a grandma serving the food. Perfect.

Imagine; you don’t live here anymore, and you are just passing through. You have one day in Amsterdam. What do you do?
I would drop by a little restaurant in Oost where they serve the best Ramen in town. It is called Mr Chen, in the Linnaeusstraat. Then I will have a walk in the Vondelpark, just to take in the city again. And I will end the day on some terrace of course.

Do you imagine going abroad in the future?
I do have that ambition one day, I find Asia particularly attractive. But that will have to come on my path. I picture myself staying here for the moment. The minimalist cooking that we have developed suits me. I love modern cuisine; light and fresh. Where there used to be 20 actions involved with the preparation of a dish, now there’s a lot more focus on one main ingredient, with one or two side ingredients. And plating up a dish like that in a beautiful way is a whole different challenge.