24 May 2011
Full service hotel looks after homeless in posh Amsterdam district: innovative tourism and social inclusion project
In a unique twist this young Amsterdam hospitality entrepreneur has turned her skills to providing quality hospitality for local homeless people.
Reception Hotel Ruysdael, a 50-room full service hotel is a collaboration between homeless foundation HVO-Querido and the Amstel Botel . In the hotel, HVO-Querido provides guidance and a team from the Amstel Botel hotel takes care of reception, catering, cleaning, linen and the restaurant in the hotel which provides three good quality meals a day for each guest.
The project was the brainchild of hospitality entrepreneur Sandra Chedi and Clemens Blaas of HVO-Querido.
Residents are not seen as clients or patients, but guests who each get 6 months full board accommodation in a room with a TV. This provides a much better situation for both the city of Amsterdam and the guests who hitherto roamed the streets.
The object of the exercise is to provide both an opportunity for rehabilitation and employment and a massive boost of self-esteem thus breaking the cycle of dependency for minimal return.
"If you live in a warm bed, you are less inclined to fall back into old behavior. Our guests can relax. They have a roof over their heads and really good food. That way, they have energy for a job or to work on their problems there, "said manager Carla Broeckx of HVO-Querido. "This gives them back control of their lives."
"Guests can get more structure in their lives - they work or do voluntary work or go to a daycare centre"
"There are shared house rules that guests respect" says director of Amstelbotel Sandra Chedi. "Our experiences have been positive. There are no more problems than in a standard hotel..
"They are our guests, we are thinking of possibilities, not limitations, "says Broeckx.
Sandra"s other hotel is a pretty unique enterprise too - the three star 175 room Amstel Botel is exactly what it says on the label; a custom-designed hotel boat on the Amstel in one of Amsterdam's latest artistic hotspots - the NDSM Quay.
Just a 10 minute free ferry trip from Central Station, the area is gradually morphing from a massive shipbuilding works to a massive exuberant and colourful art centre. Media businesses, art houses, top cutting edge restaurants, night clubs and a year full of festivals from the high culture Over the Ij festival to Robodok are making it a place to see and be seen
Valere Tjolle is editor of the Sustainable Tourism Report Suite - special offers