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08 feb 2023

The Hotelier Edit: Jorgen Rijnaard, General Manager of Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Maurits at the Park

The Hotelier Edit: Jorgen Rijnaard, General Manager of Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Maurits at the Park

jorgenThe Independent Hotel Show Amsterdam team had the pleasure of touring the new Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Maurits at the Park, located by Oosterpark. With two onsite dining restaurants and cafe, a classy cocktail bar and an urban spa, you have everything you need for a luxurious stay in Amsterdam. 

Can you give us a brief intro into your role and your experience in the hotel sector? 

I have twenty years of experience in the hotel sector in various commercial, operational and general management roles.

I first became acquainted with this wonderful organisation in 2010 when I became the new General Manager of the IJsselhotel in Deventer. As the organisation changed over the years, so did my role in it; I first moved up to the position of Cluster General Manager and later to that of Area Manager for the Netherlands and Belgium. We opened our first Pillows hotel in 2017. Since then, I have been closely involved in a number of transformations of our hotels (ed. several hotels used to operate under the banner of Sandton hotels) to adopt the Pillows formula.

For the past four years, I have been involved in the establishment and development of Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Maurits at the Park. I have become very fond of this unique hotel project, which has inspired my decision to want to contribute to this hotel's ongoing operational and commercial development in the capacity of General Manager.

What does a great guest experience look like at Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Maurits at the Park and what makes it unique? pillows

At all its hotels, Pillows offers guests the Pillows concept; modern and highly personal hospitality and the aspiration to exceed our guests’ expectations in an atmosphere that revolves around the overall guest journey. This Pillows experience can also be had at Pillows Maurits at the Park. Furthermore, we add five-star standards and the hotel is home to several unique restaurants and bar concepts. These are all marketed separately and serve as a podium for a number of young and highly driven chefs, managers and their teams.

What do you think defines a boutique hotel?

A boutique hotel offers that personal, often smaller-scale experience that modern luxury travellers are looking for. It offers unique experiences that make it stand out from larger hotel chains, where uniformity is often the standard.

Can you describe the ethos of the Pillows hotel brand for anyone new to the brand?

From start to finish, our entire process is designed with our guests’ comfort and convenience in mind. We have done away with lengthy check-in procedures and on-the-spot gathering of information. We make sure all requisite information for a pleasant stay or dinner is known to us before our guests’ arrival. This gives us more time to focus on our guests and exceed their expectations. Meanwhile, our guests have more time on arrival to enjoy a nice glass of champagne in The Living (our exclusive private lounge reserved for hotel guests). We are dedicated to offering our guests a "wow!” experience from the moment they first arrive until they walk out the door. This feeling and this guest-oriented approach can be found at all Pillows hotels.

How important is hospitality technology to your team and your guests? and are there any investments you’ve made that you think have been transformative for your hotel (guests or employees)?

Hospitality technology is very important to us. The systems we use contribute to our efficiency and allow us to spend more time on our guests. For me, a luxury hotel is all about the details, personal attention and exceeding expectations. On the one hand, we have more time for our guests; on the other hand, our systems help us customise the guest journey.

Can you describe the design concept of the hotel and what elements differentiate the design to other Pillows hotels?pillows

The robust historical building (ed. all our hotels are housed in monumental buildings) is almost akin to a fortress, yet one with an introverted atmosphere. It was a challenge to integrate the softness and serenity of the Pillows experience in such a rugged building. That softness and serenity are reflected in various ways in all Pillows Hotels. I believe this Pillows feeling can be felt even more clearly at Maurits at the Park. It has a welcoming, soothing atmosphere. Every space offers a novel experience with a humble simplicity (modest and restrained without being dull) and a comfortable timelessness.

Instead of colours, we use tones and hues. We make heavy use of ton-sur-ton with the occasional accent to instil a pleasant liveliness. Materials you want to feel and touch, textures offer that sense of comfort, which can often be more important than a specific colour palette.

Furthermore, art plays a major role at Maurits at the Park, as it does at all our other hotels. However, Maurits at the Park is unique in that it boasts pieces by master painters such as Pablo Picasso, Gustav Klimt and Constant, all from the private collection of our founder. The smaller art pieces in the rooms and in our central hallway are specially made by Dutch artist Raphaël Hermans. All his pieces are inspired by local flora and fauna and the city of Amsterdam.

What does the staff training programme look like for new employees and how do you keep your team motivated?

Prior to the hotel's opening, we spent four weeks training and testing our operational processes. We completed an intensive training programme with the help of both internal and external trainers. This was all done in a safe environment with the goal of allowing staff to thrive by bringing out the best in themselves within the framework of our concept. “Complement our values with your personality” is one of the core values that hangs on the wall of our back of house in large, bold letters. Hiring the right highly motivated teams begins with the values we uphold as a management team. Our staff consists of people who feel drawn to these values and who can identify with the outlet they work at (since every outlet has its own unique look and feel, guest approach, tone of voice and product).

We also stimulate all our colleagues to actively contribute and provide input. I like to look at it as a giant painting that everyone contributes to in pursuit of a single common goal: to work together on becoming the best. On top of that, we have a Pillows Academy where we stimulate our staff's personal and professional development in myriad ways. We want our hotel to offer a professional, fun work environment that everyone contributes to and where people can be themselves. We believe everyone is equally important. We strive to give our teams every opportunity to shine, which calls for supportive leadership from us as a management team.

pillowsHow important is the culinary offering to your guests and are you seeing any trends with your guests eating and drinking at the hotel?

Dinner at Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Maurits at the Park is an experience that can be tailored to our guests’ mood and the specific occasion they are celebrating. For the ultimate high-end dinner experience, guests can visit Restaurant VanOost. If they are after a simpler yet equally delicious bite to eat, they can stop by Brasserie Spring. For surprising cocktails, they can come to Fitz’s Bar or ascend to our rooftop bar. On top of that, our hotel guests can enjoy fresh home-made pastries and cookies in The Living every single day.

At Felix Restaurant, we offer a truly daring culinary experience. We combine innovative dishes and music with a luxurious and elegant setting in a historical building. With ceiling up to fifteen metres high, an open kitchen and large windows that offer a gorgeous view of the Oosterpark. From culinary dishes and the finest wines to the easy-going atmosphere; we strive to make every aspect of the dining experience the best it can be. This is what fine dining is all about: a real night out full of enjoyment.

Light, fresh and pure. At Spring Cafe Brasserie, guests can enjoy contemporary dishes inspired by the Italian and French cuisines. It boasts the most unique patio in all of Amsterdam: on the edge of the Oosterpark and with a gorgeous view of the open aviary with myriad birds flying to and fro.

Guests can start their culinary experience with an appetiser and amuse-bouche at Fitz’s Bar. This intimate bar offers an immersive atmosphere that is reminiscent of the modern roaring twenties, with dark wooden elements, an extensive and innovative cocktail menu and dazzling performances by our show-stopping cocktail shakers.

A rooftop bar with a panoramic view of the Oosterpark, perhaps Amsterdam's most fun park. The rooftop bar is reserved for our guests and can be booked for special private events or unique business experiences. From summer cocktail parties to birthday celebrations and receptions; the rooftop bar's unique ambiance makes every occasion more special.

pillowsAre there any innovations or new developments in the hotel industry which you are excited about?

One thing that I am particularly excited about is the large number of unique and highly motivated people who want to work in the niche luxury five-star market we operate in. That may come as a surprise in a time when myriad sectors are struggling to find and retain staff. However, we have always held the strong belief that our guests are not the only ones seeking personally driven experiences and that elusive “wow” factor; our employees - especially the new generations - do so too. We are incredibly proud of the many amazing individuals - each with their own unique background - who have chosen to work with us. In our team, we have also welcomed colleagues who did not have much professional experience, yet who did possess the personal background or drive to be all they can be. We have always believed in this development with regard to our staff. It was the key factor in a number of operational choices made during the initial phase, as well as during the development of concepts and the marketing of our outlets. We have included our colleagues in this concept development process from the very beginning, asked them for their input and established a unique identity for each outlet that our colleagues could recognise and wholeheartedly stand behind. I believe these developments in the market and our ability to react accordingly contribute significantly to the strength of our concepts and our overall performance.


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