UPDATE 2 May, 2020
It has now been announced that, this summer, you could be eligible to sample a night’s sleep at this hotel. You can find more information (in Dutch) on being a trial guest here.
Handing over the baton
Although the world, including hotels, has ground to a halt, at the new Hotel Van der Valk at Tomaso Albinonistraat 188, they’re still working on the final touches. Van der Valk: ‘I, myself, am slowly handing over the baton to my sister Kristien, my brother Martijn and his wife Maxime. Martijn is currently coordinating construction and the installation of the kitchens. Kristien is responsible for the interiors; the beds are arriving, together with lighting, sofas, floors, etc. The atmosphere is slowly taking shape, which is great to see.’ There’s no denying that Van der Valk never imagined this phase to be like this. ‘We’ve had such excellent and intensive collaboration with all of the parties, including architect Wiel Arets, Pleijsier Bouw and Linthorst Techniek, over the last few years. It’s such a shame that we’ve been unable to mark such great teamwork with some moments of celebration and a final party. Instead, we raised a toast in Microsoft Teams. ‘
Even the chance to sample a night’s sleep as a trial guest, something Van der Valk is famous for, has been prevented by the coronavirus. ‘We may have an opportunity to do it at a later date, but I’m afraid I can’t say when.’ Despite this, work of putting together a team for the hotel continues. ‘Kristien and Martijn are hard at work on that. It makes sense to enable everyone to learn the ropes as far as possible now, so that they’re completely ready to welcome guests when it’s allowed again.’ The family are certainly giving it their all, that much is clear. ‘That’s the way we work. We intend to focus on what’s possible, obviously following RIVM guidelines.’
Currently, Van der Valk is still travelling about twice a week from his home in Düsseldorf to Amsterdam. ‘The only advantage is that I’m much faster now, because it’s so quiet on the roads.’ In addition to the construction process, Van der Valk and his wife have also been running a Van der Valk hotel in Düsseldorf for ten years. This hotel is also running at 5% capacity, as are the rest of the family’s hotels. ‘I’m not having sleepless nights, but it’s hardly ideal. But, even here, we’re not just doing nothing. We’re using this time to sort out overdue maintenance and work on refurbishment and renovation. And we continue to stand behind our 100 employees in Düsseldorf. Being a good employer is especially important at times like these.’
Van der Valk expects the hotel to be completely finished by early June. ‘Even if it’s possible to partially reopen by then, how we will do that is uncertain. As I explained last time: we’re more than just a place to sleep. At Van der Valk, we aim to offer a personal service and we’ll need to think carefully about how we can guarantee quality at a distance of 1.5 m. But I’m sure the family will come up with something.’ Van der Valk’s overriding feeling is a sense of pride. ‘I’m proud of the collaboration with the builders, but also proud of my family. Working so closely together with your father, brother and sister on a hotel that’s been built from nothing is something truly special.’ Doesn’t working together sometimes lead to irritation? ‘The fact that everyone has their own role and we know what each other is good at makes a real difference. It’s only my father who can sometimes be difficult to manage and occasionally struggled to find a role, but we accept that from him. It’s equally true that he was an extremely good coach and we’re pleased with the trust he’s placed in us.’