Interview with the General Manager of the Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam

Interview with the General Manager of the Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam
What is unique about your hotel's location?

The Grand hotel uniquely reflects the history of Amsterdam, the "world's smallest metropolis" (quote claimed to be of Mick Jagger) and capital of The Netherlands. Originally, the building at the Oudezijds Voorburgwal - the oldest dug city canal of Amsterdam - hosted two convents: the Cecilia convent, founded in 1411, and the Catharina convent, which was also founded during a similar period. Together with the Agnes convent, the three combined to be the city's convent headquarters. During the Dutch Golden Age the building mainly served as the headquarters for the Admiralty. In the early 19th century the period's king of Holland, Louis Bonaparte, a brother of French emperor Napoleon, began to use the building as a Royal Palace, with the city government being made to relocate to the Prince's Court. Even after the regained independence and the return of the House of Orange in 1813, the city hall on the Dam continued to be used as the Royal Palace, with the Prince's Court remaining as the city hall of Amsterdam for the next 180 years. The building's most memorable historical moment was the marriage ceremony between Dutch Head of State, Queen Beatrix and Claus von Amsberg, performed by city mayor Gijs van Hall in the Council Chamber on March 12, 1966. In 1987 the new City Hall/Music Theatre at Waterloo Square opened and the former city hall at the Oudezijds Voorburgwal became vacant. It was thoroughly restored and, in 1992, it became occupied as The Grand Hotel, a five star deluxe hotel. In 1998 The Grand added the Princenhof, which, before then, had functioned as an Academy of Arts. At present there is also another large-scale renovation taking place, now led by the inspiring guidance of the French interior architect Sybille de Margerie, who is famous for her work at the legendary Hôtel de Crillon in Paris. In 2009 The Grand is still a hidden jewel, loved and visited by those who know the 'l'Art de Vivre'. Situated on one of the most beautiful canals in the captivating centre of Amsterdam, visitors are able to spend their time enveloped by luxury and history.

What authentic local experiences will guests have access to?

Amsterdam is one of the most characteristic cities in the world, known for it's historical architecture and cultural attractions. The Grand is situated nearby several popular locations and great shopping area's such as the Dam square, the Amsterdams Historisch Museum, the Anne Frank House, the Scheepvaartmuseum and off course the famous canals of Amsterdam. The Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, the Concertgebouw, the P.C. Hooftstraat, the shopping area Negen Straatjes-Magna Plaza-Kalverstraat and the Red Light Fashion District are also within walking distance of the hotel. Furthermore we like to point out local and authentic experiences, such as an original cheese tasting house (proeflokaal Reypenaer) and a cocktail and genever experience (House of Bols Cocktail & Genever Experience). The newly renovated Amsterdam Hermitage is also an interesting attraction to visit and our concierge can arrange tickets for this as well.

What are some amazing things that your Concierge can arrange?

The Head Concierge of Sofitel Amsterdam The Grand, Paul Westerink, and his team are happy to assist guests with transport, dinner reservations and entrance tickets to museums. All possible requests can be fulfilled. We offer our guests all kinds of packages – cultural, artistic and culinary. So you can visit places such as the Gassan Diamonds Company, where you can see the process of diamond cutting and where you can buy diamonds. And you can also visit the House of Bols Cocktail & Genever Experience, that won an award for Best Exhibition & Experience and tells you all about the rich heritage of the world's oldest distilled spirit brand and learns you all kinds of aspects about taste.

Does your hotel have a philosophy?

Sofitel Amsterdam The Grand offers guests a delicate balance of the French Sofitel touch and local Amsterdam customs. These aspects are illustrated in the interior design, restaurant menus, attentive staff service and personal welcome. As part of the global Sofitel network of luxury hotels The Grand offers a genuine experience of the French "Art de vivre" in combination with the tolerant and liberal philosophy of Amsterdam that over the years attracted many artists, writers, musicians and millions of others to this beautiful European city.

What makes your hotel memorable and unforgettable?

The remarkable surroundings of the hotel, the rich heritage of the monumental building and the interesting new architectural details in many ways make The Grand a place to never forget. The renowned French interior architect Sybille de Margerie used famous persons from the history of the building as a source of inspiration: their creative contribution with historical influences is draped across the 178 rooms and 53 suites.

What will guests rave about to their friends and family?

A comfortable stay in an unique five-star luxury hotel in the historic heart of Amsterdam, a chance to experience the life in the city as if you actually would live in it. The Grand is a hotel where the walls of the building keep their secrets, offering international stars and guests a chance to visit Amsterdam in peace, with that highly sought-after essence of luxury that is privacy. At the same time The Grand is located in the neighbourhood of numerous high quality shops, restaurants, bars and clubs where hotel guests can meet the open minded and friendly population of Amsterdam.

What is the atmosphere of your hotel? What types of guests does it attract?

Hotel Sofitel Amsterdam The Grand, furnished with French elegance and grandeur, welcomes a variety of visitors, from the trendy Amsterdam elite to royal brides and international movie stars. Among the famous guests in the past were pop stars Michael Jackson, Grace Jones, Destiny's Child, Robbie Williams and former French president Jacques Chirac. In each of the rooms, the restaurant, the halls and the beautiful inner garden, poetry and history meet and greet the visitors.

What makes your hotel a destination within itself?

The Grand is the archetype of a location where traveling and sojourning will always be fashionable. Next to the modern and luxurious rooms and suites, there is also a relaxation spa and fully equipped fitness available. The hotel offers all possible services and luxury to enjoy a complete and comfortable stay, without leaving the hotel.

Do you have a favorite meal in your restaurant(s)?

Over the course of the centuries, this exquisite Amsterdam landmark has been ripened and enriched by countless special events and, during the processes The Grand also acquired tremendous culinary fame. Our cuisine is distinctly influenced by the school of the French grandmaster Auguste Escoffier, the founder of the international culinary arts.

Our new fish restaurant Bridges Fins & Vins (to be opened around November 2009) serves dishes with an emphasis on sea food and fish, mostly Dutch organic produce with a French twist. The decor is modern and trendy; service is of our very high standards. The French architect Sybille de Margerie drew much of her stylish design inspiration from the lively colours of the famous mural by COBRA artist Karel Appel, which is displayed in the entrance of the restaurant area.

The favorite dish of the new restaurant will be ‘Le Bar de Ligne' (2 couverts), Croûte de Sel and Huile d’Olives vierge. In salt crust baked sea bass, filleted and served at your table. Combined with an Italian virgin olive oil from Liguria, makes it a mouthwatering dish. Naturally, our sommelier selects an appropriate wine for you. In 2008 alone the restaurant won four Wine Awards, including one from the international Wine Spectator Magazine.

What is the best way for guests to "arrive in style" to your hotel?

The authentic courtyard provides guest with the possibility to arrive in style by taxi or limousine. Also our 24 hour valet parking service enables guests to arrive in great comfort. A very elegant way of arriving is of course by boat so you can experience Amsterdam as the Venice of the North and you can learn of the Dutch fascination with water. But also a chic and typically understated Amsterdam entrance is by means of a bike – the fast and environment friendly vehicle for all the people of Amsterdam, no matter of class, fame or wealth.

Do you provide any welcoming or parting amenities to guests?

Guests are being welcomed with different amenities depending on the reserved room type, but all rooms have two bottles of mineral water, still and sparkling presented in the rooms. Further more all rooms are equipped with a spacious bathroom with walk-in rain shower, an especially for Sofitel created MyBed sleeping concept, audible smoke alarms, Air conditioning, Satellite TV receiving all major international channels, multiple telephones, Bose sound system, WiFi wireless Internet access, Hermès luxury products in all bath rooms, Nespresso Coffee/Tea machine, Minibar, 24-hour Room Service and a nightly turn-down service.

Can you recommend other destinations/hotels nearby (within 300 miles) that your guests should consider combining into a trip?

We know that our international guests - traveling throughout Europe - often make several visits to large European cities within a relatively short period. To always assure a comfortable and luxurious stay in neighbor-countries such as Belgium, Luxembourg, France and the UK we recommend of course Sofitel Brussels Le Louise, Sofitel London St. James, Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg and Sofitel Luxembourg Grand Ducal. All within a traveling radius of less than 300 miles. Also discover them on

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