Front of Hotel The Dylan Amsterdam

Where the Locals Go: Discover The Dylan’s Immediate Surroundings

Who says you can only discover a city when you’re a tourist? Sometimes a staycation is all you need to see your home with fresh eyes. With The Dylan’s unbeatable location on the charming Keizersgracht, you will be close to all the sights, shops and attractions that make Amsterdam, Amsterdam.

Culture & Museums

The Dylan is walking distance from a variety of museums that document both Dutch and world history. The Anne Frank House, where diarist Anne Frank was hiding during World War II, is located close by on the Prinsengracht. Huis Marseille, the first photography museum of the Netherlands, is practically next door and the Museum Het Grachtenhuis, dedicated to the history of Amsterdam’s famous canals, is also just around the corner.

Food & Drink

There’s no denying it: Dutch cheese is simply the best. And the best selection of cheeses, meats and wines is available at De Kaaskamer, which is located a few metres from The Dylan. Enjoy other nearby delicacies, like pralines from Chocolaterie Pompadour or have a drink at the quintessentially Dutch Café de Doffer. Whatever you’re in the mood to snack or sip on, Amsterdam’s best restaurants and cafes are just a short, picturesque stroll away.

Shopping & Lifestyle

Locals know to go to “De 9 Straatjes” when they’re in the mood to shop. Whatever your heart desires, you will find it one of the nine delightful streets densely packed with boutiques, restaurants, cafes, galleries and flagships of international brands. You can, for instance, discover luxury vintage fashion at L’etoile de Saint Honoré Vintage or pick up a new pair of frames from Dutch eyewear brand Ace & Tate. In the need of a shave and some art? Visit Artshop de Salon for both. With its seat on the Keizersgracht, The Dylan is conveniently situated right in the heart of the 9 Streets.

 

 

The Dylan & J.P. Audio Visual

To make our events extra special we work together with our partner J.P. Audio Visual.
The people behind J.P. know exactly how to provide the right equipment for any event.

We are very glad with their professionality and flexibility and that is why we dedicate an article to them in our Dylan Mag.

 

Who are J.P. Audio Visual?

J.P Audio Visual is a loyal and excellent service-oriented company with enthusiastic colleagues.
We rent out, sell, install and maintain all required footage and sound equipment. Think about desired light sources, Domotica applications and more, where and whenever you want. Temporary, mobile or in a permanent place. In a conference room, music temple, at home or in the office.

How did the collaboration between The Dylan & J.P. start?

Peter Wezenbeek, the owner of J.P. Audio Visual, introduced his company to The Dylan a couple of years ago. From the start we are very happy with our loyal and pleasant collaboration with The Dylan.

What can be the biggest challenge of working with hotels?

We prefer to work with any hotel, small or big, to adjust their wishes and needs so that we can offer customization. For most hotels this means that we have to take over many of their tasks by our excellent back office services, so we can take off the pressure of the employees and that everyone can work effectively. In this way, we make it easier for the hotel, the business guest and us, to achieve the desired goals.

Which memorable events and requests of The Dylan will stay with you?

We have seen beautiful events and party’s pass by, where we could offer our technic expertise. The one that appealed to the imagination the most will be the huge wedding party, where the idyllic character of The Dylan, the beautiful bride and the lightning placed by us came together as one wonderful spectacle.

The Dylan is a special location and we are looking forward being their preferred supplier for the next years.

Om onze evenementen extra speciaal te maken werken wij samen met onze partner J.P. Audio Visueel.
De mensen achter J.P. weten precies hoe ze een evenement moeten voorzien van de juiste apparatuur.

Wij zijn erg blij met hun professionaliteit en flexibiliteit en daarom wijden we graag een item aan J.P. in onze Dylan Mag.

Wie zijn J.P. Audio Visueel?

J.P. Audio Visueel is een loyale en op excellente service gerichte onderneming met enthousiaste collega’s. Wij verhuren, verkopen, installeren en onderhouden alle benodigde beeld- en geluidsapparatuur. In de ruimste zin van het woord: gewenste lichtbronnen, Domotica toepassingen en meer, waar en wanneer u maar wilt. Tijdelijk, mobiel of op een vaste plek. In een vergaderzaal, conferentieruimte, muziektempel, thuis of op de zaak.

Hoe is de samenwerking ontstaan tussen The Dylan & J.P?

Peter Wezenbeek heeft, als eigenaar van J.P. Audio Visueel, zijn bedrijf enige jaren geleden geïntroduceerd aan The Dylan. De samenwerking is vanaf het begin loyaal en prettig en daar zijn wij erg blij mee.

Wat kunnen de grootste uitdagingen zijn aan het samenwerken met hotels?

Wij willen graag met elk hotel, klein of groot, de samenwerking afstemmen op hun wensen en behoeften zodat we maatwerk kunnen bieden. Voor de meeste hotels betekent dit o.a. dat we veel van hun taken over laten nemen door onze excellente backoffice diensten zodat we hun medewerkers ontzorgen en iedereen effectief kan werken. Op deze wijze maken we het voor het hotel, de zakelijke gast en ons als partner veel makkelijker om de gewenste doelen te behalen.

Welke memorabele evenementen en verzoeken vanuit The Dylan blijven jullie bij?

We hebben prachtige events en feesten voorbij zien komen waar we een bijdrage met techniek mochten leveren. Degene die toch wel het meest tot de verbeelding sprak was een enorm bruiloftsfeest waarbij het idyllische karakter van The Dylan, de mooie bruid en de door ons geplaatste verlichting alles tot een prachtig schouwspel maakten.

The Dylan is een bijzondere locatie en we zien er naar uit om nog vele jaren de voorkeursleverancier te mogen zijn.

 

 

 

Bartender pouring a cocktail at Artem Bar

Bartender’s Choice: The Negroni

Never before have we witnessed such an extraordinary moment in the hospitality industry such as we do now.

When I arrived at The Dylan in Amsterdam during the Summer of 2019, it was after tending bar and creating seasonal craft cocktails in New York City for many years. Now, almost a year later, I am writing this article for The Dylan Mag, firmly at home and regrettably away from my “office” behind the bar at OCCO. What can I say? It was absolutely prudent to act early in order to safeguard the health and wellbeing of all from Covid-19. But I must admit that I miss shaking drinks for our guests to sip and enjoy. So I thought it would be wholly appropriate to showcase in this space a classic cocktail recipe, which anyone can make at home—no matter where home may be.

I’ve always been drawn to the Negroni, partly for its eye-catching ruby red glow, and equally because it can be enjoyed before and after dinner. It’s also a bit of a paradox: simple to put together, but shockingly complex in its expression. A classic Negroni calls for equal parts (30ml) of London Dry Gin, Sweet Vermouth, and Campari. Stirred over ice until nicely chilled, and garnished with a generous orange twist. But that’s only a starting point. One of my favorite riffs on this classic is to substitute the Gin with an earthy and smokey mezcal that we keep behind the bar, such as Del Maguey. The Negroni can wear many hats—you can substitute Bourbon, Rum, and Cognac for the Gin—and it will work just as well. Every time. A perfect drink for mixing at home when your options might be limited.

Another reason this cocktail is on my mind is because at The Dylan right now there is a wooden barrel behind the bar. In anticipation for Spring, I started experimenting with a Negroni recipe that showcases Holland’s national spirit: Jenever. Taking a traditional product like Boompjes Jonge Jenever, and mixing it with a very fine sweet vermouth such as Carpano Antica Formula, and of course classic Campari, this blend has been aging for weeks in that very barrel. The Wood with the help of Time adds a crucial finishing character, rounding out all the sharp edges of the spirits, and creating a little liquid harmony. It’s easy to forget but sometimes, in the cocktail world, patience is a virtue.

So together we all wait. And while we do, I look forward to seeing that ruby red Barrel-Aged Dutch Negroni in the hands of our guests after this episode is far behind us.

– Artem Derkatch

 

 

An Interview with Sjoerd van der Veen

Maintenance

What do you do at The Dylan and how long have you been here?

I work in the maintenance department at The Dylan. My background and skills are in carpentry and that’s primarily what I do. Many people are surprised that a hotel has a full time carpenter. But in 5-star-hotel like The Dylan, there are always projects for improvement in order to uphold the standard and luxury experience for our guests. A project that I might work on is a new closet for a room or structures for the foyer, for example.

All together I’ve worked at The Dylan for six years, however I left for a while in between in order to gain new experiences and sharpen my skills.

What’s the best part of your job?
Realizing projects in my own workshop. I love when a design or planned change to the hotel is suggested and I can think about the best approach. Watching as it all comes together is such a fantastic experience.

So there is a lot of creativity involved?
Definitely, from both sides, so from management and from my end. Mixing it together and seeing the result is very rewarding.

On an average day, do you collaborate a lot or do you tend to work alone?
It’s a bit of both. The technical service manager could approach me at any time with a project that needs to be handled right away. Then of course we have longer term projects that require constant communication between teams. Next week, for instance, we will be renovating a few showers and after that some rooms are getting new floors. We are never sitting still.

What does a typical day on the maintenance team look like?
On the maintenance team we have altogether five people and we all start our shifts together, which is very nice. We start the day with a coffee and twice a week one of us goes to the bakery to get some gevulde koeken, then we share what we did the evening before, check our emails. Most of the time we know what the day ahead will look like. If there is work in the kitchen, we have to start early because at 11 am the cooks are preparing lunch.

On a normal day, housekeeping might call and report something that needs to be checked out in a room. In a hotel there is always something. But if there is nothing urgent, we focus on our longer term projects. And even then no day is the same.

How do you contribute to the mission of giving guests an unforgettable stay?
We are always upgrading the hotel, in and outside of the rooms. Together the maintenance team ensures that The Dylan looks perfect at all times. I love the building so it’s a real pleasure to uphold it.

What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
The most challenging thing is getting a job done in time. Many unexpected things can happen that might delay a project, but we always try to turn it around in time. It’s also important to ensure that everyone is happy with a result, especially keeping the guests in mind.

That’s always challenging with hospitality.
Indeed! I actually never thought I would work in hospitality when I’m older. And The Dylan is the perfect hotel to work at.

What’s your favorite place in Amsterdam to recommend to guests?
That always depends on what they are looking for, but I genuinely enjoy every part of Amsterdam. Just cycling through the city and discovering hidden streets. In Amsterdam there is so much behind every building, every door has a story behind it. You can always find something interesting to discover. I really like this and encourage guests to just explore. The Amsterdam forest is also an enchanting place to visit, so I would certainly recommend going there this Spring.

 

 

An Interview with Joeki Genet

Guest Service Assistant & Concierge

What does your role at The Dylan entail and what does your typical day look like?
I am both a Concierge and a Guest Service Assistant at The Dylan. As a Guest Service Assistant, I am responsible for the welcome, the check-in, the guests’ needs during their stay, the check-out and the goodbye. And as a Concierge, I also tend to all arrange the things outside of the hotel. These tasks are arranging private tours and museum tickets, limousine transfers, making recommendations and reservations for a restaurant, giving suggestions on how to spend the day and much more.

My day starts with reviewing the notes on guests, so who has checked in and who is checking out, reviewing what they have requested and preparing for whatever that might be. We are in touch with some guests already per email, to arrange an itinerary or any special wishes before they arrive. During the day, new things might come up, so it’s good to always be prepared for that.

You make recommendations to guests – how do you stay informed about things going on in Amsterdam?
There are always new things popping up. I stay informed by cycling around the city or talking to friends and colleagues in the business. It’s important to keep your eyes and ears open and to be curious about what is going on.

Is it challenging to give recommendations when so many people look ahead online?
Yes, it can be. Luckily I am a born-and-bred Amsterdammer. The internet is very informative, but there are some things that just the locals know, like places of the beaten path. Some people like to stick to the evergreen sights and attractions, but others want to see Amsterdam from a different angle. I try to understand each guest and what they might like and make as personalized recommendation as possible, which is something the internet cannot provide. It’s also easier to trust a local’s recommendations over an online review.

What’s your favourite part of your job?
I always compare what I do at The Dylan to professional team sports. You have to be a team player and work together to win. And you’re not going to win if you don’t work hard. It’s like playing for Ajax or the New York Yankees: You need to have professional people and you need to perform every day, day after day.
The absolute best feeling is when we do our utmost best. When guests tell us they had a wonderful stay, when they come back to stay with us or when they recommend us to others, that is motivation to keep performing at our level.

And what’s the most challenging?
To always work at 100% or higher. I believe there is always room to improve, even if it’s just in the little things. If you see something that can make the job easier or the guest happier, try to do it the next time. Always try to optimize and make your job more perfect, through communication or through processes. A little thing can make a big difference to make the guest experience even smoother.

In your opinion, what makes an excellent Guest Service Assistant and Concierge?
It is crucial to understand people, to know them without actually knowing them. To have a feeling of who you have in front of you. You have to pick up certain signals. One guest might like to go to the newest nightclub with loud music, but the other might enjoy a hidden restaurant that’s quiet and cosy. The second step is to always be a step ahead. Just like in chess.

What’s the most fun / interesting / memorable request you’ve ever had?
Every day is different and every guest is interesting. Nothing too crazy has happened yet, but there is still time for that!

What would you recommend to guests to do and see in the new year?
2019 was the year of Rembrandt, so this year I recommend visitors to also discover the smaller museums which have fantastic exhibitions. I also really hope that it will snow this winter and that the canals will freeze over. It’s such a beautiful and romantic sight, to see people ice skating over the canals. You can enjoy traditional pea soup and sip a hot chocolate with cream. January is the kick-off of the tulip season and on the 18th everybody is invited to pick their own free tulips on Dam Square.

 

 

An Interview with Natasja Noorlander

Maître at The Dylan

Can you describe your role at The Dylan? 
I am the Maître of Restaurant Vinkeles and responsible for all the wines at the hotel. My main focus is Vinkeles, our fine dining restaurant. During the day I create pairings based on dishes and during dinner I serve these wines along with selections from our à la carte menu to our guests.  

Sounds like you’re always busy! 
Indeed. On top of my role at Vinkeles, I am also in charge of ordering wine for groups and banqueting events. I also take care of the smaller wine selection at OCCO, our bar and brasserie. Here we offer our unique High Wine experience, where we serve four small dishes, each accompanied by a matching glass of wine. 

What does your creative collaboration with the chef look like? 
The chef actually tells me quite early when he is thinking of a new dish. He will approach me and say he’s thinking about something with seabream, olives and paprika, for example. Immediately I am curious to see what he is coming up with. Sometimes during his creative process, I have the chance to take a small bite of something. Luckily we have a good partnership, so I can be honest with any feedback. When the dish is almost fully developed, that’s when I come in with a wine suggestion. Sometimes I know exactly what is needed, other times I have a few options that would work. At that point we sit together with the dish and a selection of wines and taste everything together. 

Do you travel a lot for your job? How do you decide what to stock? 
Most of the wine from our suppliers comes directly to me in Amsterdam. We work with more than 20 suppliers. Some only bring Madeira, for example, or only Champagne. Many bring a selection of new wines. We take an hour to sit together and sample different things. Our suppliers know what kind of cuisine we do at Vinkeles and what works well. When I do travel, it’s upon invitation from wineries – like in Spain or South Africa – to go and stay with them, spend time in the vineyard. Talking to the winemakers and being in the vineyards is to me one of the most beautiful experiences. 

Is this what inspired you to become a sommelier? 
Actually my decision to work in hospitality happened while I was studying Biochemistry. I was in my laboratory and feeling a bit lonely. At the time I was working part-time at a restaurant, and I saw myself being really good at it. I thought, if I am going to work at a restaurant, then I want to be the best I can be. So I went to the Hotelschool Ter Duinen in Belgium and after that I started working at fine-dining restaurants. I realised quite soon that wines are really half of the dining experience: they can make your evening complete. So I decided to focus on wine. 

How do you help guests who don’t know what to order? 
When you have guests who are a bit intimidated by the wine list or by the wine-drinking experience, I always ask them what they like to drink. People know more than they think. So I start with: Do you like white or red? Then: Do you want something with a fresh character or perhaps with more of an oaky character? A little bit rounded? Something with fruit? We endeavor for our guests to find something that they will enjoy. If they don’t like it, we will find something else.

What’s currently your favourite wine to recommend to guests?
For this menu we have a white wine, Lindie Carien made by Franco Lourens from South Africa, a blend of four different grapes from all over the Western Cape. There’s the minerality from the grapes from the coastline, the riper fruit of the ones from warmer regions. It’s complex without being too heavy. I love serving it with our seafood courses. 

For your job you have to stay informed about what’s currently happening in the world of wine. Can you give us some insights into what’s trending?
There was this trend recently, “the funkier, the better”. There was a special group of people who really dove into it and only drank funky wines. But besides that, natural wines, so wine made without any additives, are really in and can be quite interesting.

And what is your all time favourite wine?
That’s impossible to answer.

Do you ever drink beer or cocktails?
Beer not so much, I had to learn how to drink Heineken. That took me a while. When I do drink beer it’s special craft beer. Cocktails I like. They can be like a small party in a glass.

Besides The Dylan, what wine places would you recommend in Amsterdam?
Café de Klepel is one of my favourites. I love the relaxed atmosphere. This is where you go with your partner or friends for a cosy evening. And for great wine I go to 4850. Here you can go with people who appreciate good wine and want to taste something new and different.

 

 

Talking Fashion: An interview with Laurens Blok – CEO of Van Gils

Can you tell us a bit about the collaboration between The Dylan and Van Gils?
Yes, absolutely. We recently started working together on a unique service feature, offering all guests the possibility to order a high-quality shirt. Our mission is to support men on their road to success. We’ve translated this together with the Dylan into an “Every Man Needs a White Shirt Service. The process is rather easy: each guest will find a clothes hanger in their room with a Van Gils tag, which directs them to the front desk to instantly order a high-quality shirt. The advantage is that we can deliver the shirt at any time of the day since we always have plenty available at the hotel. And in the rare case we’re running out on a few, we can supply the hotel straight from one of our shops in the city.
Additionally, if any of the Dylan’s guests is looking for a great outfit (which can range from a tuxedo to a smart casual look) we can also take care of personal tailoring, right in the hotel. The room-service concept in that sense is only the beginning of a strong partnership with the Dylan.

Sounds good. So why do we need to wear Van Gils?
Easy. Van Gils has been a Dutch iconic lifestyle brand in the market of premium quality clothing for the last 70 years. We use our Dutch heritage to focus on the authentic man of today. You could say that the Dutch style is slightly rocky and not always too serious if you compare it to the flamboyance of Italian designs or the minimalism of the Scandinavians.
This also means that we serve the authentic man on his rocky road to success and give him confidence along the way. We simply know that success is not a straight line upwards, it comes with plenty of ups and downs. That is the story we bring forward through our designs and the reason why our brand is represented by a few crosses: “no stitches, no story”.

And how does Van Gils match with the Dylan in that respect?
First of all, both fashion and hospitality strongly reflect a lifestyle. Anyhow, whether you select your next hotel or a new jacket, in both cases you do not only consider quality and price. You want to feel comfortable with the place or clothing since they should match your identity.
Then, to answer your question, The Dylan focuses on the highest tier of quality. Just like us. The hotel gives people a certain feeling of trust and confidence while travelling. These are the same values we’d like to communicate to today’s authentic man.

Back to the shirts. When do we know it’s a good one?
Well, curiously enough, it does not always depend on the features that fashion experts bring forward. These people would probably say that quality comes with marble buttons and fabrics from the best Italians mills, but we understand that not everyone needs a silk shirt for instance. When you’re a businessman and travelling, you want a clean white shirt that doesn’t wrinkle, has the right fit and feels comfortable.
To give you an example: I once met up with 35 friends and asked them what a good shirt means to them. Only one friend mentioned the source of the fabrics, the other 34 were more interested in the durability of the shirt and whether it’s easy to iron. By keeping that in mind and considering our target market, these are the features we need to focus on while maintaining an ever-high level of quality.

And how would you say we need to wear a shirt?
Good that you’re saying that. We like to answer that question for our customers every day again. Our designers and retail specialist work on this topic continuously because, in the end, we sell more than just a product: it’s the entire look. That means that we focus on combining and matching our products while keeping the total look in mind. This is the reason why we make suits of which the jacket can be worn independently with a chino, for example.

Is that something you’d like to wear too?
Yes, I love jackets. And I like ties too by the way. They are very trendy now, but therefore commercially not very attractive, unfortunately. I would wear them to a fashion fair but when I meet with friends or do business there is usually no tie involved anymore.

And which style advice would you give our guests who visit Amsterdam?
I would say, please show us that clothing makes a difference. What bothers me, is that most Dutch men are quite passive in their style. Woman in this country always look impeccable but the typical Dutch man usually just pulls anything out of the closet. My message to international travellers is therefore; show us what you’ve got and impress the Dutch.


 

 

An Interview with Stewart Rowberry

You don’t sound very Dutch. Where are you from originally?  
I’m from Worcester in England. But I’ve lived in this country for about forty years already. I used to work on cruise ships, but I was looking for a different kind of job. That’s how I finally ended up working in the flower business in the Netherlands and later in the hotel industry. 

So, where did it all started for you at the Dylan? 
Oh, then we should go back 20 years in time. I was part of the opening team of what was then called ‘The Blakes’. It was the first boutique hotel in The Netherlands and a franchisee of The Blakes in London, the first-ever luxury boutique hotel in the world. When I started as a concierge, our way of working was quite different. The gates at the front of the hotel were always closed for example. It was our job to receive our guests and open the gate for them. 

And what does your current job entail exactly? 
Well, we guide and assists guests with nearly anything they need. That includes car rentals, restaurants or luggage. We also add value to the typical Dylan experience while we serve our guest at the front door. Anyway, whether they are arriving or leaving, the Dylan should always feel like a family house.  

And why are you good at this job? 
I suppose I like dealing with people, it’s in my nature to assist them. 

Could it also be a sense of politeness that’s typical for the English? 
Oh, that could be true, that never fades away. To be honest, I’m just being me and I have no intention to be an actor of some kind. I just love this job because I have a lot of contact with our guests. And I’m not fixed behind a desk, that’s a bonus too. I’m constantly moving around, which makes the job quite dynamic. 

What is your secret to making people happy? 
I always try to go the extra mile. If a guest asks a difficult question or when a request is rather challenging, I always endeavour to find a solution. That effort is usually very valued by our guests. 

So, what does your day look like normally? 
We work in morning and evening shifts, but both are quite similar if it comes to the work we do. I always start coordinating with the reception and check whether there are requests left from the shift before and if all taxis are arranged. Then I continue to work on emails, help our guests with luggage and their request. We do quite a few things at the same time, but that makes the job so dynamic. 

Do any of the online tools change your work as a concierge? 
Yes, a little bit. In the first place, we used to acquire our knowledge through books and personal experiences. These days, the internet is one of our most important sources. Secondly, there is always a large group of guests who first check a website such as Tripadvisor before they come down to hear our opinion. But we can then help them make the best choice, based on the work they have already done online. 

And how do you know which advice to give? 
You have to read the guest in front of you. For example, if an older couple decides to visit a very trendy restaurant, which I think may not fit them exactly, I try to explain what kind of venue it is. Of course, in the end, our guests make the decision but from my experience, I can help them well on their way.  

And how do you keep yourself informed about everything that happens in the city? 
Mainly through the internet, publications in magazines and the contact we have with restaurants. We also try different restaurants ourselves as regularly as possible. It’s a good way to discover new concepts and to meet up with our team. 

Which place in Amsterdam would you recommend visiting? 
The Jordaan is definitely the most beautiful neighbourhood. It has the atmosphere of a village, which is so typical for the whole city. It is also an area that you could perfectly discover by bike.  

 

 

An Interview with Michou Vreeswijk

HR Manager at The Dylan

Tell us, what do you do at the Dylan? 
Literally, everything that concerns Human Resources Management: from the moment we open up a vacancy to recruitment, applications, onboarding and policies. I also make sure that departmental procedures are executed in time. Think for example of the end-of-year evaluations and the staff’s Christmas presents, which are both coming up now.  
However, my most important task is to be here for the team. I want them to know me and feel comfortable enough to get in touch whenever they need me. Therefore I make frequent rounds through the hotel, just to chat and to give the HR department a face. This daily contact with the staff is by far the best part of my job. 

So you were born for Human Resources Management? 
Haha, yes, perhaps. I suppose the main goal of an HR Manager is to increase the ‘happiness factor’ because only a cheerful team can look after happy guests. I am an involved and open person, which helps to establish such a culture. If you combine that with my planning and organizational skills, yes, you could say that I was born for this job. 

Is there any hot topic you are working on now? 
Since I arrived here 7 months ago, I have observed everything that could be improved or done differently. I am now converting this information into specific projects and next year I will start working on some of them. 
The onboarding process is probably the first project that I will run. There is still a lot that we can achieve in that respect. From the day they start, new team members should get the right experience, which you can call the ‘Dylan feeling’. The onboarding process is what makes them feel at home right away and keeps the team strong at all times. 

So do you think this is what drives effective teams?  
Yes, but the strongest teams flourish mainly through openness and honesty. There should be a sense of trust between all team members. That is only possible if their leaders give the right example. If they tend to be slightly negative for a moment, this will be picked up instantly. A leader should provide compliments and direct, honest feedback to create a positive atmosphere where everyone is prepared to help one another. I think The Dylan is managing this really well. 

Could it also be the success factor of the Dylan? 
I do believe so. The Dylan is a small boutique hotel, which makes it easier for the team to communicate directly and help one another. We can act quickly because we are not restricted by head offices. We make our own decisions and we can let our creativity flow to a certain extent. That is what motivates many of us here. 

Something else, how do you keep yourself going? Or let’s put it this way: what do you live for?  
Good food! Well, and shoes, but I guess that’s inevitable, as a woman. I am always ready for good food. In this time of the year, I can really look forward to my husband’s traditional stew. He actually knows exactly how I like it, he cuts off any excess fat – not too much, because then it gets tough – and then he lets it simmer day and night. Heaven!

Sounds delicious! And if you go out for dinner. Where do you go? 
On an Autumn Sunday, we usually make a long stroll through the Vondelpark before we end at Restaurant Moer. They always have a nice Sunday vibe and a program with for example live music or a Sunday brunch. After an early-morning walk along the canals, it is also great to unwind at the cosy fireplace of The Dylan. Such a romantic place! It may even be my favourite spot in the hotel. 
One other thing I love: artisan beers, those traditionally brewed ones. I usually go to ‘Brasserie Het IJ’ or a classic Amsterdam pub, which we call a “bruin café” (brown café). ‘In ‘t Aepjen’ is a good one. I think they have never changed the interior in the last decades…

 

 

An Interview with Robbert van Rijsbergen

What does your job entail exactly?
Well, I oversee the Sales & Marketing department. We take room and restaurant reservations, organize meetings & events, look after revenue management, sales, marketing and public relations.

That’s a whole lot. How do you oversee all those different activities?
It is quite dynamic indeed. What’s most important, is having the right people around you. At the Dylan, we have a few senior staff members and several external partners who I can trust blindly. That allows me to maintain a bird’s eye view and overlook various projects all at once: from our new website to proactive sales activities.

And is there any hot topic you’re working on now?
Yes, a new strategy is “automate the predictable so we can humanize the exceptional”. That means nothing more than robotizing workflows to have more time for human interactions with guests. This involves activities such as setting up a smart Customer Relationship Management System to new ways of using current systems.
Another topic we’re working on is our brand recognition in The Netherlands. We are well known overseas but we need to further spread our name in the local market.

It seems that you enjoy your work. Why are you made for this job?
Simply, because of its dynamics, creativity and human interaction. I used to work for a large travel organization, which is a completely different game than working for a boutique hotel. I very much prefer a small-scale organization and working closely within a smaller team.

How do you qualify your management style? And how do keep your team strong?
By keeping the atmosphere strong. There are many theories about management but in the end, it’s just a feeling and sense of empathy. We laugh, drink lots of coffee and go out for dinner once in a while. If the atmosphere is not good, I will sense that immediately, especially in a small organization such as ours.
When it comes to leading a team, it’s a very individual and a tailored process. Senior team members, for example, only want you to share some ideas and opinions, whereas other team members may need more coaching.

Down to the content of your job now. How do you position the Dylan?
We’d like to stay in the top 5 of the city’s high-end hotels and remain the only real luxury boutique hotel. Therefore, we want our guests to feel as if they’re staying with a well-to-do family member in Amsterdam. That lifestyle and residential feel should always be present at the Dylan. It’s also the reason why we do not use lots of signage in the hotel for example. Or another example is that we try to gather preferences and the purpose of our guests’ stay before their arrival. Whilst respecting their privacy of course.

And do people abroad understand this concept?
Generally, yes. I travel a lot to the U.S. and most of our clients there know The Dylan and its boutique concept.

And if they already know the hotel, how do you sell it then?
Well, most likely they don’t know about our recent updates and renovations. So, I will first update them about our new developments. Then I will further stress our location and unique mix of room types. I think we have a room style for nearly every type of guests. Most important is to discuss our tailored approach. This is also applicable to our reservations and meeting & events team. If for example, a couple is interested in organizing their wedding, we prefer to meet them personally. And, more than in other hotels, we can agree on organizing even the smallest details.

How do you foresee the future of hotels? Anything that will change?
I consider artificial intelligence an important trend. Without harming the essential human interactions, this technology can help us to smoothen certain service encounters. Think for example of a chatbot helping our guests to make restaurant reservations in the middle of the night.

And is there any news we may expect from the Dylan soon?
Well, we’re finishing our upgrade of the reception area. The physical front desk will be removed, and we will receive our guests with refreshments in a lounge type setting.

Sounds like a perfect fit for the Dylan?
Exactly. Our personal approach and family feel set us apart from other hotels. If for example I walk out of the door here, and I see a group of guests arriving with plenty of suitcases, my team and I are happy to help them with their luggage. We just don’t work on organizational islands, which is good for our team spirit and the value to our guests.

And if you had to take this group of people through Amsterdam. Where would you go?
I would hop on an open boat and cruise along the canals, followed by a few bitterballen and drinks on a terrace. And finally, I would end the day with some comfort food at the ‘Food Hallen’.

And, what is your favorite food exactly? 
I love Japanese and Thai food, but you could also wake me up for a Dim Sum lunch on a lazy Sunday.