by Sarah J.F. Braley | June 01, 2006



On the walking tour:
Rembrandt van Rijn’s
Amsterdam home

In the 13th century, fishermen living on the banks of the Amstel River, where it meets the IJ River, built a bridge -- and Amsterdam began to take shape. The city now is the capital of the Netherlands, although the country’s seat of government is in the Hague.

Water still defines Amsterdam, with a network of canals outlining its neighborhoods. Groups of all sizes are accommodated in the city, which offers about 21,000 hotel rooms. And once again, buildings are rising by the river, as Amsterdam reclaims former warehouse districts, such as the IJ’s Oostelijke Handelskade, or Eastern docklands.

On the banks

Opening Sept. 1 is the 410-room Movenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Center. The property offers about 10,000 square feet of meeting space. Groups using the hotel also can gather at the nearby Passenger Terminal Amsterdam, which holds 2,000 theater-style on its main deck; the Bimhuis, a 375-seat concert hall; and the Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ (Music Hall on the IJ), which opened last summer with two halls of 725 and 100 seats, respectively.

In other news

The main building of Amsterdam’s crown jewel, the Rijksmuseum, will remain closed for major renovations and not reopen until 2008. A selection of Rembrandt’s masterpieces in the museum’s permanent collection are displayed in the Philips Wing, whose makeover already has been completed. The exhibit is part of ongoing events celebrating the 400th anniversary of the artist’s birth. Other activities include a walking tour of Rembrandt’s Amsterdam and Rembrandt, the Musical, at the Royal Carre Theatre.

A new website has been created to help meeting planners bring groups to the city. The Amsterdam Convention Circle ( offers information about Amsterdam RAI, the city’s convention center, as well as details on area hotels and other meeting and event venues.

Near RAI, the Hotel Okura Amsterdam is finishing up a two-year renovation with the opening of a 5,390-square-foot, two-story suite that takes up the 17th and 18th floors. More than $17 million was spent on the refurbishments.

In Rembrandt Square, also called the Rembrandtplein, the 166-room Eden Rembrandt Square Hotel opened in March. Nearby is the new FLO Amsterdam, a 122-seat French restaurant.

Out of town
In the Hague, the 205-room NH Den Haag, with meeting space for up to 400, opened in October near the railway station and the city center.

The Golden Tulip Hospitality Group plans to build a 140-room Tulip Inn south of the capital in Delft using the latest in IKEA furniture, as Delft is a central learning center for IKEA retailers. The property, expected to open in 2007, will offer several conference rooms.

The Netherlands levies a 19 percent value-added tax (VAT) on most expenses related to travel and meetings, but organizations have a full five years after each event to apply for rebates. Corporations can reclaim taxes on registration fees, accommodations, taxis, car rentals, gas, communications costs, exhibition-related costs and other fees. Only taxes on meals are not returned.