on a rondvaartboot
(canal boat) cruise.
The home of Rembrandt van Rijn and Vincent van
Gogh is a maze of canals drawing water from the Amstel and
IJ rivers. As the advent of the European Union has opened up the
neighboring countries to one another, this colorful, vibrantly
offbeat city is becoming a convenient entrance point for the rest
of the continent, attracting corporate outposts and other new
With more than 20,000 hotel rooms and excellent air access,
the city draws groups of all sizes. The popular Amsterdam Airport
Schiphol, just 20 minutes away, is served by more than 90
international airlines. As of January, KLM now offers 40
self-service check-in kiosks at Schiphol; other airlines are adding
them as well.
Meetings held in the Netherlands can recover the 19 percent
value-added tax (VAT) applied to expenses such as hotel rooms, taxi
fees and various meetings costs.
On the river
One section of town called the Oostelijke Handelskade (or Eastern
docklands) is getting a new look. Along the IJ River near the
railway station, several developments have just opened or are under
construction, giving a new face to land previously dominated by
A new hotel is being built just east of the train station, near
the five-year-old Passenger Terminal Amsterdam, the city’s cruise
hub. Here, the 410-room Mövenpick Hotel City
Harbour is scheduled to open in autumn 2006 with about
11,000 square feet of meeting space.
In the same area, the 119-room Lloyd Hotel
opened in November with meeting space for up to 50.
Opening this month during the Holland Festival is the
Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ (Music Hall on the IJ), a
735-seat venue right on the riverbank. A side hall seats 125.
For an evening event with great views of the city, the new
IJ Tower has function space on the top floor and
can accommodate board meetings of 20 people, dinners for 150 and
receptions for 350.
Nearby is Fifteen Amsterdam, British chef
Jamie Oliver’s first foray outside the United Kingdom. The 200-seat
restaurant, which opened last December, serves modern Mediterranean
On the outside canal ring, not far from the Rijksmuseum,
the Van Gogh Museum and the café-filled LeidsePlein, the 230-room
NH Amsterdam Centre has been renovated from top to
bottom. The property offers two restaurants and 10 conference rooms
for groups of up to 280 people.
At the Rijksmuseum, the main building is
closed for renovations and scheduled to reopen in 2008. In the
meantime, the Philips Wing, already redone and filled with a
selection of masterpieces from the permanent collection, remains
open. In all, the museum owns nearly one million works of art,
including 20 paintings by Rembrandt.
Next year, the Netherlands will celebrate Rembrandt’s 400th
birthday, and works by this Dutch master, along with another genius
of light and color, Caravaggio, will be on display at the
Van Gogh Museum from Feb. 24 through June 18,
A bit north toward the city center, not far from the Amsterdam
Historical Museum, is Brasserie Harkema, which
opened in October 2003. This Dutch take on the classic Parisian
eatery seats up to 228 people and offers private dining for 48 in
the entresol (mezzanine).
Edge of town
Expo XXI, a 30,000-square-foot event venue, opened in May,
part of the $1.3 billion Mahler mixed-use development in
Amsterdam’s Southex financial district.