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Hospitality Minds: Q&A With Bram Van Der Hoek

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Ahead of Hospitality Minds Europe 2018, which will be held in June, Premier Hospitality will be catching up with a number of the event’s confirmed speakers.

We recently caught up with Bram Van Der Hoek, CEO of Europe Hotels Private Collection, to find out about the brand, his day to day role and the current state of the hospitality industry.

Tell us a bit about what prompted the decision to join Europe Hotels Private Collection?

“It’s actually quite funny because EHPC’s first hotel, Park Hotel, was where I did my first internship and started my career in sales and marketing. After several years I returned as the General Manager. At that point, Liran Wizman owned the property and was working on an entirely new vision for the hotel. This was ten years ago, when the concept of a boutique hotel in Amsterdam was a very new one. Liran really spearheaded the innovation in Amsterdam and it was such an honour to be able to work so closely with him on building this incredibly ambitious organization.”

What does a typical working day involve for you?

“I like to wake up very early and have a long breakfast. This is when I catch up on emails and prepare myself for the day ahead. When I’m not traveling I try to talk to as many people as possible. I prioritize the people on my team, but I also make sure to connect with people outside of the organization. It’s important to stay up-to-date on what is happening both in the industry and culture overall.”

What makes the Europe Hotels Private Collection brand standout? Tell us a bit about the history?

“As I mentioned earlier, Park Hotel was one of the first boutique hotels in Amsterdam. With each new property we innovate in some way. Sir Hotel’s first hotel was Sir Albert, in the Pijp neighbourhood in Amsterdam. Everyone said it wasn’t a good area to open a hotel, but five years later it’s one of the hottest neighbourhoods to visit in Amsterdam, because of its youthful energy, happening restaurants and bars, shops and galleries. People have had this reaction to almost all our properties at first, but over time they realized we were ahead of the curve. Now EHPC has a total of 11 hotels in terrific neighbourhoods and each one has its own special story to tell.”

What’s the biggest obstacle facing the hospitality industry in the next five years?

“Technology. Unfortunately, the entire industry always seems to be two steps behind everyone else. It’s difficult to merge and streamline all the systems we use and data that we handle. My dream is that eventually this will become more seamless so that we can be as flexible as other industries, like retail or even airlines.”

What would be the biggest change you would make to the hospitality industry?

“In addition to technology, the industry can be more innovative in regards to environmental responsibility. By default, hotels are extremely wasteful, but there are easy ways to train the teams and the guests to use less. I wish all hotels were more aligned when it comes to using less energy, recycling more and supporting the local environment. Because hotels are seen as such an indulgent space it feels contradictory to offer less, because it would be deemed as a service flaw. In fact, if together we shift the expectations and explain the reasoning, we could, as industry, really impact the wellbeing of our general and local environment.”

What do you pride yourselves in as a company?

“Our ‘can do’ attitude. There is so much passion in our company, but what impresses me every time is that I rarely hear anyone say “no, we can’t do that”. We are open to new ideas and always looking for ways to evolve. We know that by constantly questioning and revaluating ourselves and the projects we do, we will succeed. Everyone is extremely hard working and in turn, super enthusiastic about the future. And this creates a collaborative and highly involved atmosphere which makes coming to work a true pleasure.”

About You

What is the best hotel/place you have stayed or visited?

“There are so many great places and hotels on this globe, but most of the times the best places for me are small and privately owned accommodations run by people with a great heart and real love in what they do. A unique product is key, but interacting with inspiring people and connecting with true local experiences really makes the difference. The last great experience I had was a stay at in an Old Italian family house close by Lake Como. The owner let us enjoy her full music and library selection and the house was handpicked with mid-century Italian design pieces. Sitting every morning in her typical Italian kitchen and enjoying the freshly brewed coffee with a good conversation was such a nice experience and will last forever.”

What is your favourite past time to unwind and relax when not running the company?

“I love being in the south of France; Cote d’Azur. There are so many flights to Nice and its just 1.5 hour journey from my hometown, Amsterdam.  It did not take long before the magic of the Côte d’Azur grabbed me. Its uniqueness and diversity enchants me every time. I struggle to “turn off” from, so I often come back from holidays not feeling recovered or relaxed. It’s only in the Côte that all is forgotten and I truly unplug.”

And finally, if you had to choose, what you would your last meal be?

“Gado Gado, made by a close friend of mine.”

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