Prior to 2013, nobody had taken much interest in this particular plot of land, which is located opposite Europaplein, right next to the A10 motorway. There was a drainage ditch running right through it, which channelled water away from the Zuidas. Nothing else. That unassuming ditch had an important function and could not simply be filled in. Nonetheless, Freek van der Valk and architect Wiel Arets saw real potential in the logistically well-located plot of land. Adriaan van der Valk is Freek’s son. ‘In 2013 my father and Arets submitted their plans to the City of Amsterdam. They were keen straight away’, he explains.
Once the drainage ditch had been diverted, the first sheet piles for the new hotel, with its 238 rooms, were driven into the ground in November 2017. From that moment on, Freek van der Valk left the construction project in the hands of his son Adriaan. ‘I had to think twice before taking on this project’, says Adriaan. ‘Ever since I turned 25, I’ve been running the Van der Valk hotel in Düsseldorf together with my wife, and we live there with our three children. I couldn’t leave Germany and the hotel in Düsseldorf, and Düsseldorf to Amsterdam is a 2½-hour drive, so I had to decide what my priorities were.’ In addition, Adriaan van der Valk had never previously managed a construction project. ‘But in the end I couldn’t resist the challenge. I come from a family of doers and building our first hotel in Amsterdam – and in Zuidas, no less – was an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up.’