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Robert-Jan Woltering: 'Over the past 35 years I have been able to embody my passion, working on five continents, in fourteen different countries'

During MASTERS SUMMER EDITION, summer will be heralded and celebrated together in the prestigious De L'Europe Amsterdam. MASTERS talks to Managing Director Robert-Jan Woltering. After his last position as regional vice president of Mexico and Central America at Accor Luxury Brands, he felt it was time to return home: 'Now I have the best job in the Netherlands. I have the honor to run the pearl of Amsterdam.'

What was your very first summer job? 

“My very first summer job was as a terrace employee at The Old Inn café on Leidseplein. This is where I earned my first money. At that time I harbored the dream of becoming a pilot. However, at the age of fourteen, a visit to the ophthalmologist put an abrupt end to this ambition, when it turned out that I needed glasses. This meant a drastic change of course; I adjusted my subject package at school and decided to follow my passion for the hospitality industry by attending hotel school. The love for the hotel business was nurtured early in my life. My grandmother opened her last hotel at the age of 65 in Kitzbühel, and the family also had a hotel in Amsterdam. I was often there, walking in between, or cooking with my father when my parents received guests. It's in my DNA. The funny thing about this story is that, a year later, another ophthalmologist asked me in surprise why I wore glasses. I've never worn one since. In retrospect, I am grateful that my original career path as a pilot did not materialize. Over the past 35 years, I have been able to embody my passion as an innkeeper, working on five continents, in fourteen different countries.”

How did you end up in your current job? 

''In Mexico it dawned on me that our mission there had been accomplished. As Regional Vice President I was responsible for Mexico and Central America within Accor's luxury brands. Fairmont Mayakoba had undergone a complete renovation and we had recently opened the Sofitel in Mexico City and the Sofitel Legend in Panama. I felt that our time there was coming to an end and decided to ask my wife about her wishes. Her answer surprised me: 'Actually, Robert-Jan, I don't want to go anywhere anymore. I want to go home.' So it happened. Two months later I received a phone call asking if I wanted to return. 'There is no coincidence,' they say... Now I have the best job in the Netherlands. I have the honor to run the pearl of Amsterdam. That really is a great gift. You are in the center of the city; everything comes together here.”


 

"Two months later I received a phone call asking if I wanted to return."

 

What does your ultimate summer look like? 

“My ideal summer extends from mid-May to September, where every day is a celebration of the sun and the terrace of De L'Europe is pleasantly filled. On a personal level; just put me on a boat in Amsterdam or somewhere in Friesland. Basically anywhere there is water makes my heart beat faster. I also really enjoy walks along the Zeeland beach with my dog, or a bike ride. After all the traveling for work, I really find my ideal summer here in the Netherlands.”

What are you toasting to during the National Summer Drinks?

''Of course we toast to the summer. And on the sun. And I think you should always toast life. Carpe Diem is therefore my absolute motto. We are also celebrating the completion of the renovations at De L'Europe, both in the hotel and in 't Huys, which actually acts as an extension of the hotel. We recently opened 14 experience and brand suites, with the highlight being the Vincent van Gogh suite, which we developed together with the Van Gogh Museum and the van Gogh family. We are extremely proud of this, as it is the very first Van Gogh suite that was created in collaboration between the museum and the hotel brand, a first! The suite truly immerses you in Vincent's spirit. We have three museum copies of Vincent's works. You can choose which work you want to have in your suite and when you check in, the butler will bring that work to your suite, where you will hang it with him as a kind of ritual. Of course, this also includes a visit to the museum with a special welcome and treatment, plus a whole package of other experiences. An ideal summer moment if you ask me; waking up among Vincent van Gogh's sunflowers."

Where can you be found in Amsterdam this summer?

''I expect that I will mainly be on the canals this summer. Around six or seven o'clock in the evening I like to sit on a boat with a nice glass of wine and a snack, sailing quietly through the canals. I really can't get enough of that.” 


You work abroad: what five things are indispensable?

''Swimming trunks, delicious old Dutch cheese and new herring with a cold Heineken. But the trip becomes extra special if my wife comes along, especially if the children are also present and we can enjoy something together. That really is the pinnacle of happiness for me. However, when I go abroad for work, there are of course other essentials that I cannot afford to miss. Then I think of my laptop, phone, some nice suits, ties and nice shoes. And let's not forget the adapters, which are really indispensable when you are abroad."

 

"We recently opened 14 experience and brand suites"

 

Who would you like to sit on a plane with for 8 hours and what would you like to discuss with him/her?

“It would be very nice if I could talk to my grandmother again. Unfortunately she is no longer with us, but she did have an interesting career as a hotelier. For example, she managed the Hotel Fleissig in the Warmoesstraat, now the St Christopher's Inn The Winston. She also opened a hotel in Kitzbühel at the age of 65. I would like to talk to her about her experiences in the hotel industry and compare my own experiences in it. That would be my ultimate dream, even if it could only happen on an airplane… I don't think everything would have been discussed, even after eight hours.”

What are you most looking forward to during MASTERS SUMMER EDITION? 

''The thing I'm looking forward to the most is really the summer party. I loved it so much last year. The positive energy that everyone radiated was truly contagious. The good weather of course plays a role, but it was really the people themselves who made the difference; the guests, the organization, but also the exhibitors who are present with their great products and passion, contribute to the festive atmosphere. That passion from the heart, and not from the head, makes something beautiful happen." 

www.deleurope.com

MASTERS SUMMER EDITION 

MASTERS SUMMER EDITION will transform the prestigious De L'Europe Amsterdam into a true fairytale hotel from 20 to 22 June. Throughout the hotel and on the terrace on the Amstel, summer is ushered in and celebrated together, for three days, in the heart of our capital. A merger of (international) guests, influential locals, CEOs, family business owners, VIP relations, visionaries and acquaintances.

At this invitation-only event, stately period rooms with a view of the Amstel - from exclusive (family) businesses - invite you to experience the high-profile brands and industries. From boats to watches and from art to travel. There is a party both outside and inside and the experience is unique to say the least.