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!

 

An interview with Wedding Officiant Marijke Plas

Can you tell us a little more about yourself?

I was born in Haarlem as a second child in a family of three girls. As a child, I wanted to become an actress and I was always performing. My parents didn’t think drama school was such a good idea and because of that I went to a retail school as a child from an entrepreneurial family. If I had to prepare a performance at school, I could really look forward to it, I made it a lively story and most of my classmates didn’t understand that I liked it that much. Communicating was always something that I was good at, I was curious and not really shy.

Then I got into modelling. That turned out to be a fantastic time with a lot of travelling and meeting people. It also gave me the opportunity to improve my English and French, something you will benefit from for the rest of your life. I married the love of my life and we are still married nowadays. We do have three children: two boys and a girl. My modelling career came to an end and I started my own events agency . I organized corporate events for 10 years. Next to the events agency I was also a wedding civil servant, I could usually combine those two jobs very well.

Meanwhile the children all moved out and I decided to go to India for a yoga teacher training. And I would never have wanted to miss that either. With great pleasure I give yoga classes and yes….. I am also still an independent wedding officiant at home and abroad!

At which moment did you realize that you wanted to become a wedding officiant? And how did you finally became one?

I attended a wedding of a cousin of mine and I saw how important the job of a wedding officiant is. This person can make a difference on one of the most important days of your life. I saw that the wedding officiant at this wedding didn’t make it personal. It inspired me to see if it would be something for me. I sent an open application to the three municipalities and waited for an answer, I was very much looking forward to it. I was invited for job interviews, but I decided that I preferred to work in Heemstede where I have lived and worked for many years now. Since it was 15 years ago, the criteria were not that heavy. I had an advantage because of my knowledge of languages, and because of that I was hired. The first couple I met was a couple from China, very nice people. They had let the family come over from China and they only spoke Mandarin. So the challenge started immediately at the first wedding. I learned how I could welcome their parents and grandparents in Mandarin. They loved it and from the nerves I forgot the rings at the wedding. Fortunately, the messenger helped me remember. By now, I was a few heart palpitations away. It was the baptism of fire and after that many wonderful moments followed. It added so much to my life.

What are your most memorable moments in your career?

The most memorable moments? There are so many! The preparations that are made, the intense conversations with everyone, the expectations, the anticipation, I often enjoy them as much as the couple itself. Really memorable were my marriages in Hong Kong and in Sri Lanka. In Hong Kong, I married a businessman whose bride did not know there would be a wedding. They travelled with their four children who completed the surprise. The total commotion, joy, surprise, I will never forget it. I performed the ceremonial wedding on the huge plateau on the mountain in Hong Kong in front of the impressive statue of Tian Tan Buddha. And in the Netherlands I performed the official wedding in their hometown.

And in Sri Lanka I married a couple whose bride was an adopted child. After many years she found her family again, a family with a number of sisters. The family that had adopted her was so loving. She wanted to unite the two families on the beach in Sri Lanka during her marriage. Thirty years earlier, the biological mother handed her own child to the adoptive mother, which must have been a chilling moment for both mothers. Now 30 years later, the two mothers came down the stairs to the beach hand in hand with the bride. And then try to keep it dry as a wedding officiant!

How did the collaboration started with The Dylan Amsterdam?

The cooperation with The Dylan Amsterdam started because I had agreed to meet a couple at their location for an interview for their wedding. They had chosen The Dylan as their wedding location, they came from Japan and came over for the preliminary interview. When you come to the Dylan you actually fall into a warm bath. The reception is always very personal. Especially the fireplace gives you a ‘coming home’ feeling, you immediately feel at ease. After this wedding some more weddings followed at this location and then of course you get to know each other a bit better. Because of the location it is of course very attractive to get married there. It is a hidden gem in Amsterdam, the courtyard garden, the totally different venues that merge into one another and of course the Keizersgracht canal in front of the door. All cultures come together and all styles come together, the security of the classical part and the big surprise of the modern Ariana room: everything is connected and it’s right.

What makes you different from other wedding officiants?

Well, I hope I always know how to make a difference. I think the strength lies in having a really good interview and feeling the couples wishes. The more I know about the couple, the families and the circumstances, the more personal my speech becomes. In doing so, I strongly take into account the experience of different cultures. Dutch are very direct, which can be fun, but not every culture benefits from so much openness. I am always looking for some humour in my ceremony, humour and putting things into perspective. And if those two ingredients are not explicit or appropriate, I look for beauty in the word and let myself be inspired. For example, by beautiful imagery or cultural connections.

Finally: do you have any tips for bridal couples for their wedding day?

My big tip for the big day is to let go! As soon as you hired the right people: trust them on their professionality. A good preparation is very important, but on the day itself you really need to be able to let it go in order to enjoy the day intensely.

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. 

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!

 

Concierge’s Choice November: Some Much Needed Wonder

Grey clouds are knitted together across the November sky and the temperatures have dropped to the single digits. Late autumn can feel a bit miserable at times and it may be difficult to find a silver lining. That’s why this month’s Concierge’s Choice is focussed on all things fun and exciting. From colourful museum experiences to upbeat musical acts to fascinating Amsterdam neighborhoods, here’s a selection of things to add a little splendour to your day.

Wondr Experience, Meeuwenlaan 88

Release your inner child at the Wondr Experience in Amsterdam Noord. Wondr is a candy-coloured, indoor playground experience for the young and the young at heart. Dive into a pool of marshmallows, snap an Instagram-worthy picture inside of a kaleidoscope and draw your own creations on the wall. If you’re looking for a dreamy, glittery escape from reality, then Wondr is the place to go. Corona safety measures are in place – and be sure to book your ticket online before visiting.

Nemo Science Museum, Oosterdok 2

Fascination with the human body has grown exponentially this year. What fortuitous timing that the Nemo Science Museum has finally opened the renovated and updated Humania exhibition. This exhibition takes a deep dive into what makes us, us. Learn about the body, our sociology and psychology with interactive displays and informative art pieces, like the 8.5-metre sculpture ‘A Handstand’ by the Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman. To curb boredom at home, Nemo also offers a great selection of experiments you can conduct in your own living room.

MidWest Radio, Cabralstraat 1

Gloomy November evenings are best spent with friends, sitting in a cosy cafe and listening to a live music act. The organisers at MidWest Amsterdam had exactly the same thought, so for the autumn and winter they’re putting together a weekly – and corona-friendly – live music show called MidWest Radio. Straddling all genres from jazz to electronic to classical, MidWest believes that music and a good atmosphere will continue to get us through these unprecedented times. Book tickets online as they’re not sold at the door.

Zevenlandenhuizen, Roemer Visscherstraat 32II

Sometimes the best sights are hidden down a sidestreet. Such is the case for the Zevenlandenhuizen, the Houses of Seven Countries. Lovers of great architecture should visit this row of 19th century houses in the elegant Zuid neighborhood, just off of the Museumplein. Built by architect Tjeerd Kuipers in 1894, each of the seven houses represents a different European country. See if you can guess which house belongs to which nation (if you get stuck, there’s a plaque on each building to help you out).

 

 

Condé Nast Traveler 2020 Readers’ Awards: The Dylan Best Hotel In The Netherlands. 

Each year Condé Nast Traveler reaches out the Readers’ Choice Awards. This year over 715,000 travelers have submitted their vote. Since people cannot travel and the vote is based on memories this years’ edition is even more special. Ratings are based on various aspects, like service, food & atmosphere. The Conde Nast Traveler Awards (former Readers’ Travel Awards) started in 1998 in the UK and a year later Readers’ Travel Awards associated with Condé Nast Traveler. It are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of quality within the travel industry.

Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards are divided in different categories. In the category Northern Europe the best 25 hotels are listed, including 9 Dutch hotels. The Dylan Amsterdam has ended in the third place of the category Northern Europe and with that is ranked as the best hotel in The Netherlands.

The Dylan Amsterdam is proud to be ranked best hotel in The Netherlands. René Bornmann, General Manager of The Dylan Amsterdam said, “We are incredibly proud to be recognized as a Top 3 Hotel in Northern Europe, and as best hotel in The Netherlands”. Employees of The Dylan are grateful that their hard work, to make every moment of our guests a memorable moment, has been rewarded. They’re very grateful for the recognition and would like to thank all loyal guests for their votes and support during these unusual times.

 

An Interview with Eddy Bierman

Concierge

What does your role at The Dylan entail and what does your typical day look like?

I am one of three concierges who work at The Dylan. I am there for the guests, to meet their needs and fulfill any wishes they might have, like if they want to book a restaurant or a flight or arrange transportation. Whatever their request, I am there as a concierge to take care of it.

What did your career look like before The Dylan?

I started out as a doorman at the Golden Tulip hotel in the centre of Amsterdam. After a year I became a starting concierge, I was fourth in line of the concierges. I worked myself up as a department head and then worked in that role for seven years. It was quite challenging, I had a department of about ten people. Balancing this responsibility along with those of my personal life became overwhelming, so I decided on my own to reduce my role to be just a concierge and not the head of the team. The hotel manager at the time understood and appreciated my honesty. So I became a concierge again.

Do you prefer this change?

Definitely. I love my role as it is now. After a year or two as a concierge again, my colleague Michael asked me to work at The Dylan. So I was at the Golden Tulip for twenty years and then now twelve years at The Dylan. It’s a big change to work for a hotel with several hundred rooms to one with only forty or so. There is more contact with the guest and you can give great personalised service. That’s difficult in a hotel with two hundred rooms. There it’s like a factory.

You make recommendations to guests – how do you stay informed about things going on in Amsterdam?

The Dylan is one of the most well-known hotels in Amsterdam, so a lot of event organisers come to us and inform or invite us to new experiences, like restaurant openings. On top of that, we are three people in the concierge team, so we keep each other informed. It’s a team effort. Since everyone has their personal interests and different networks, we bring those together.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

The people, for sure. I understand people quite well. I can recognise quite quickly what kind of guest I have in front of me and what their needs are, what they want out of their stay. Of course it’s not 100% accurate, but I can definitely read my guests and this helps to tailor their experience.

And what’s the most challenging part?

I always hope that guests enjoy their stay and that they leave satisfied by the entire service throughout the hotel. That’s how we keep our guests coming back. Our service level in every department is incredibly high and we all work together to keep it that way. Everyone wants to do their job well and that’s the challenge every day.

In your opinion, what makes an excellent concierge?

You have to be a listener and truly understand what a guest needs. You must do your best and always try to go above and beyond. It’s important to see the little details that make an entire stay memorable, from the limousine pick-up at the airport to the welcome, the rooms and also the goodbye. The guest can feel if you do things with passion – even if something doesn’t go as expected – so the more fun you have at your job, the better you are at it.

What’s the most fun / interesting / memorable request you’ve ever had?

Over so many years, of course there are many memorable guests and situations. As a concierge, I get a variety of questions or requests. One that stands out is during the release of the new 101 Dalmatians movie, a guest asked where would be the best place in Amsterdam to find a puppy! And then I start researching to find a solution to the request. Of course there are more simple wishes. If a guest tells me a little bit about their expectations and I recommend a certain restaurant, and after they return and tell me it was exactly what they had hoped for, then that’s a great feeling.

What would you recommend to guests to do in Amsterdam?

What I always recommend to guests who are new to Amsterdam – and it doesn’t matter where they’re from – I tell them to first not make any plans. First just walk through the city and explore. I have several good routes they can take. It’s a much different experience of the city, much more purposeful and you can really take in the surroundings and the sights. Then after a first exploration, I recommend renting a bike and then experiencing Amsterdam in that way. There is so much to see and so much variety, and that’s what makes the city so special.

 

 

Concierge’s Choice October: Amsterdam’s Best Interior Design Stores

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that life starts all over again when it becomes crisp in the fall. As the leaves turn into a golden brown and the sun hangs lower in the sky, we wave a slow goodbye to summer and look forward to cosy times spent indoors. Of course we have all seen plenty of our own four walls these last months, so maybe it’s time to freshen things up a bit. Below we suggest the top Amsterdam destinations for interior makeovers: where to shop and be inspired for everything home & living.

Moooi
Westerstraat 187

When visiting Amsterdam, a stop at Moooi is certainly a must, not in the least for its magnificent showroom. Located just a short walk from The Dylan, Moooi sells a perfect mix of decadent yet modern furniture as well as beautiful conversation pieces that give your home an elegant edge. To top it all off, Moooi also offers their own collection of luxury bath products and fashion accessories.

Blom & Blom
Chrysantenstraat 20A

Nothing beats the creative partnership between two brothers: A shared love for industrial artifacts inspired brothers Kamiel Blom & Martijn Blom to work together to recover and restore vintage light fixtures and also to design and develop their own unique creations. Schedule a visit to their showroom in Amsterdam Noord.

Hay House Amsterdam
Spuistraat 281 abc

From our neighbors to the north comes the cheerful Hay House, its Dutch flagship settled happily on Spuistraat in Amsterdam’s center. Quality Danish designs meet affordability with a full range of furnishings, accessories and objects to spruce up every part of the home. Hay strikes the balance between Scandinavian minimalism and much needed whimsy – so make sure to pop in!

The Modern
Jacob Obrechtstraat 26

Any design lover will probably have Charles & Ray Eames on the top of their inspiration list. For the best selection of Eames furniture in Amsterdam, head to The Modern in the museum district. Shop classics like the lounge chair and ottoman as well as a selection of other contemporary brands, like Fredericia, Massimo, or WDSTCK. Their team of interior stylists is also at the ready to help makeover your home project.
The Frozen Fountain
Prinsengracht 645

For nearly 30 years, The Frozen Fountain in De 9 Straatjes has been curating the very best of Dutch design. As a platform for both established and emerging local designers, this shop offers a colorful blend of furniture, lighting, wallpaper and fabrics as well as delightful accents that also make wonderful gifts for friends and family.

 

 

Sommeliers Choice: Veuve Clicquot Champagne

The story of the Wine House Veuve Clicquot starts with Mrs. Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin who made the company to what it is today.

In 1772 a banker and wool merchant Mister Phillippe Clicquot-Muiron started producing sparkling wine in the Champagne region of France. His son François Clicquot married Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin in 1798. They shared their passion of making Champagne and where actively present with the production of the Champagne. In 1805 François past away and gave the opportunity to 27 year old Barbe to take responsibility of the company.

Mrs. Barbin was the one that gave the name to the Champagne “Veuve Clicquot”, “Veuve” is French for “widow”. It was very unusual in that time as a woman to take the responsibility over a company but with the support of here family and father in law she was able to succeed.

During here time as the first female CEO she was very involved with the production of the Champagne; she even helped developing new Champagne production techniques. For instance the “table de remuage”(riddling table) to clarify the Champagne and innovated the very first blend of rosé Champagne.

During the Napoleonic Wars, Madame Clicquot made strides in establishing her wine in royal courts throughout Europe, notably that of Imperial Russia, thus becoming the first Champagne house to ship Champagne through the blockade to Russia in 1811.

As a female sommelier, I love telling the story of “The Grand Dame” of the Champagne. Next to a beautiful historical history it is a delicious glass of Champagne, which we use as our house Champagne. Next time you have a reason to celebrate, enjoy a glass of Veuve Clicquot and remember this historical lady.

Natasja Noorlander
Maître Restaurant Vinkeles

 

 

Amsterdam Canal with a bridge with bicycles

Naughty Amsterdam

The Dutch and their openness

De Wallen is the oldest, prettiest yet most controversial part of Amsterdam. So, why did this area become a red-light district? We could only give a complex answer to this seemingly simple question. But in the end, it all comes down to the history, liberalism and economy of the city.

When Amsterdam started to flourish in the 15th century, its locals began to cater to the growing number of sailor men who visited the city. Once on shore and far away from home, these folks traditionally sought their distraction in alcohol and ladies of virtue.

Today, 400 years later, prostitution is still an elementary part of De Wallen, simply because the Dutch pride themselves on being liberal and tolerant. That is why schools, offices and apartments casually blend in with entertainment venues to naturally enforce a sense of social control. This interesting balance between liberalism and political sensitiveness makes the red-light district worth a visit.

Discover De Wallen district

Start exploring De Wallen at Quartier Putain: a coffee bar serving some of the most delicious coffees and cakes. From here, you can get a glimpse of how the area forms the backdrop of the daily lives of couples, families and blush-cheeked tourists.

Then move on to PIC: a visitor centre telling you all about the stories that hide behind the red-lit windows. Join one of the guided tours through De Wallen and meet with former ladies of easy virtue who will help you to place the district in its context.

End your discovery at the Oude Kerk: the oldest building of the city, located right in the centre of De Wallen. The old church is now a hub for contemporary arts and has always exposed a remarkable contrast between its serenity and edgy surroundings.