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The Independent Hotelier Award is presented to an individual, couple or business partners who have made a significant contribution to the independent hotel sector. An independently spirited pioneer, recognised for excellence, with a reputation for pushing boundaries and creating exceptional guest experiences. Above all, the winner is someone committed to the development of their team, the success of their establishment and the industry at large.

In partnership with


Eric Toren, Owner of Hotel TwentySeven


Eric Toren’s dream is the foundation, the hospitality industry, his playground. Over the past years, Eric has set a new standard in the hotel industry and blazed a trail to reach the top. With a character like no other, he is a straight shooter and is known for his unique approach in the hotel industry to make the impossible possible.

The success of his previous hotel ‘The Toren’ was no stroke of luck. Eric opened a second hotel on the Keizersgracht, Hotel Sebastian's, named after his son.  Synonymous with ‘The Toren’, his second hotel was rated among the top hotels in Amsterdam. Not only did both hotels receive excellent reviews from guests, Horwath's annual benchmark research highlighted that these 3 and 4-star hotels outperformed most 5-star hotels in Amsterdam. 

After these successful years, Eric decided to further pursue his dreams. He always envisioned creating an out-of-the-ordinary dream hotel; one to give guests the experience of a lifetime. With this vision in mind, Eric opened the grand doors of Hotel Twenty Seven, on Dam square, in 2017. Guests and media have described the level of perfection and personalized service as unprecedented in Amsterdam.

Professionals from all over the world claimed that it would be impossible to make a hotel with only 16 suites profitable. On the contrary; with Eric’s unique approach, Hotel TwentySeven became a unique destination with the highest standard in luxury, hosts a global clientele from royals to celebrities, while being financially successful.

‘To build a beautiful stage is not the biggest challenge; but to accomplish the play you need a true story and excellent actors.’ Eric knows that a unique hotel experience is impossible without a shared vision and a team of warm and ambitious personalities. Eric inspires his team to make genuine and emotional connections whilst being themselves, so that their commitment to the guest remains meaningful and true.

Marco Lemmers, CEO of Conscious Hotels


Marco Lemmers, CEO and Founder, started Conscious Hotels 14 years ago. After completing a Masters’ degree in Business Economics, Marco had a successful career in banking and finance. The lack of passion for the core product of this industry led to a big career change. That’s why he created his own hotel business.

Hotels with style, personal connection, lots of humour, and leading sustainability standards. Living according to sustainable principles with his wife and after becoming a father, his ambition to help save the planet for future generations was the reason why Conscious Hotels was born. Conscious Hotels are attractive, funny and quirky and consist of 4 hotels, 2 restaurants and 2 cafés, all in Amsterdam for now. But together with new investors NIPA Capital, Conscious is taking over Europe in the upcoming years. They are hard core sustainable, in everything they do. But without shouting it into people’s faces. They take care of the planet, quietly in the background. No fuss. In other words: Eco-Sexy. Big Smiles.

Martin Duchateau, Owner of Made in Hotels


Martin Duchateau has always been passionate about the hospitality industry. After graduating at the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, in 2002, he started his career with Conrad International in Brussels (Hilton Hotels Corporation). Martin stayed 5 years with Conrad, first in Brussels and then moved to Dublin where he was in charge of the revenue management for 2 hotels. In the same time, he was appointed to specific missions in Asia to implement the systems and deliver strategic solutions to openings’ Conrad hotels.

Martin then moved to Berlin and worked for the headquarters of Design hotels AG. He was in charge of 70 hotels. His task was to help the members to optimize their overall revenue and to strengthen relations with Design Hotels.

After 10 years abroad, he came back to Brussels, his hometown, to work for Radisson Blu as Director of revenue. In 2012, Martin and his sister decided to open a boutique hotel, the Made in Louise. A second hotel will open in 2023 in the city centre of Brussels.

Besides he has several consultancy projects in hotel openings, team training and strategic planning. Martin teaches e-marketing and revenue management in 2 hotel schools in Belgium.

Michel Kloeg, Owner of Kloeg Collection


Michel Kloeg, born in 1960 in Rotterdam, has been an entrepreneur since his early twenties. After a successful career in the funeral business in Rotterdam, it was time for a change. His journey into hospitality started when he took over a beach bar in 2008 in Dishoek, Zeeland. The whole family joined the company. Five years later, a new opportunity came his way when he and his wife became owners of Beach Hotel in Zoutelande. Three years later, the hotel was largely rebuilt. It doubled in capacity and officially got its fourth hotel star, setting the standard for all hotels that were still to come.

Business is booming in Zeeland and it didn’t take long before Hotel Kaap West was built and opened in Westkapelle. With this second hotel added to the collection, the organization grew. The ambition: Making holidays in Zeeland attractive and sustainable. To do this, and to facilitate the growth of the company, Kloeg Collection was born.

Since then, the collection of 4-star hotels started growing rapidly, and his family once again joined him in his efforts. In the years that followed, Hofstede Moesbosch, Boutique Hotel Rijks, and Hotel Zeeuws Licht were added. In 2022, Hotel de Timmerfabriek, Hotelboot Koningin Emma and Boutique Hotel Helder were opened. In 2023, Hotel St. Joris and Timmerfabriek Apartments will open their doors. With a mind that is always open to new possibilities, new hotels will certainly follow.

Throughout all his endeavors, Michel has a strong, ambitious vision while constantly looking for the perfect balance between people and the environment. Even in difficult times, he will see the potential – in projects and in people. With Kloeg Collection, Michel strives to be both the best employer in Zeeland, and the go-to hotel brand for people looking for a relaxing vacation in Zeeland.

Michelle Zandbergen, Founder of Hotel the Craftsmen


As a student at Hotelschool The Hague, Michelle got the opportunity to set up a hotel in the city centre of Amsterdam. Together with her family and interior designer Stef van der Bijl, she came up with the idea to create a hotel where historical Dutch crafts and the history of the monumental building are honoured.

After a year of renovating, Hotel The Craftsmen, opened its doors in August 2019. During the extensive redesign and renovation of the monumental building, authentic and original features were either preserved or meticulously restored. New design elements respect the distinct historical character and charm and pay homage to the hotel's name. Delft blue tiles, bedsteads, monumental floors and the original staircase pair perfectly with beautiful antiques, vintage finds, modern materials and clever reuse of craft related items the designers introduced to offer the comfort of today.

Tsibo Lin, Founder of The Collector The Hague


Tsibo Lin is a hospitality entrepreneur with a passion for creating unique and memorable experiences. With over a decade of experience in the industry, he has established himself as one of the leading voices in the hospitality scene. He is the owner of two branches of Foodhallen (Amsterdam and Rotterdam), the Kanarie Club and three boutique hotels in Amsterdam. In 2019 Tsibo was named the ‘Meest Markante Ondernemer in Amsterdam’ by Koninkijke Horeca Nederland, the largest organisation representing hospitality businesses in The Netherlands. In 2020 he went on to open his fourth boutique hotel, The Collector The Hague. The award-winning lifestyle boutique hotel is a base camp for adventurers and a testimony to Tsibo’s innovative vision for the future of hospitality. Its Tsibo’s dream to open a chain of boutique hotels with The Collector.

Tsibo’s commitment to quality, combined with his drive to constantly push the boundaries, has earned him widespread recognition from industry professionals and guests alike. He is described by Misset Horeca as “modesty itself, but a look at his track record commands respect’. Het Financieele Dagblad, one of The Netherland’s leading dailies, described Tsibo as “a daredevil, a hospitality magnate in the making who always is working on his next step. Business minded, full of courage, personal and modest” in a personal profile piece about the entrepreneur.