Ahead of Independent Hotel Show, our partners SEVERS & JANSEN visited Hotel V to hear the story behind Tom and Mirjam Espinosa’s love for hospitality.
Tom and Mirjam started their career as hoteliers 20 years ago when they took over Hotel Victorie on Victorieplein from Tom's parents.
With the chance to manage Hotel Victorie, they were able to get victory – excuse the pun - over their annoyance at then not being admitted into Hogere Hotelschool and after a year the Amsterdam property was converted into the renowned Hotel V, a modern boutique hotel with design rooms that is now one of three properties.
From Amsterdam with Love
From Amsterdam with Love is Hotel V’s credo and it is clear their love for guests is inexhaustible, proving to be the driving force behind the pair’s daily existence as independent hoteliers.
“We give love and attention to our guests that is natural and genuine. We are a mini-society in Amsterdam for them. A cosmos for how we like to see and experience the city: tolerant, equality for everyone, service with Amsterdam humour, and a perspective for ourselves and the team. An honest guest experience that cannot be faked.”
The Secret Recipe?
Despite now sitting as part of a small portfolio of hotels located in the heart of Amsterdam, it’s important to note that the identity of Hotel V is not based on a concept. "We find that difficult and also too marketing driven," explains Tom. Instead, the foundations of their three hotels and culinary outlets are simply built on the hospitality DNA that Tom and Mirjam have in their genes.
“That's how we learned it in our family, and that's how we transfer it, step by step, to our partners, our children and the team we work with. It is important to us that one energy flows through the company. There can be no Chinese wall between the hotel and F&B operation - everyone is equal here. People are not labelled and are empowered to do everything. They must share the common 'familial' motive to give guests the feeling that they are welcome continuously.
The pair have also made a conscious decision to keep all operational functions under one roof and to outsource almost nothing. Employees are specialists in their own discipline but are relied upon to provide a critical eye on what is happening in other departments. Whilst they are sometimes sharp to each other's work, it comes with a hefty dose of humour and a relativising capacity. It is our secret recipe that reinforces the mutual bond within the team and thus positively influences the atmosphere that guests experience.”
Hanging on a Trapeze Without a Safety Net
We are inspired and driven by the truth of the Ethics manifesto of Baruch de Spinoza. A philosophy that says you have to enjoy all the beautiful things in life, but not too much. Otherwise, it loses its power ... today, we do business with a healthy dose of theory, but we also remain objective to be able to continue to monitor the authenticity within ourselves.”
It’s important to note at this point, Tom and Mirjam can no longer run this wonderful company alone, and their team of over 200 people is under the inspiring leadership of managing partner, Jan Stuurman, who has the two oldest children of Tom and Mirjam by his side (both of whom graduated from the Hogere Hotelschool!).
With Amsterdam in a state of flux as city limits stretch and developments such as Airbnb require hotels to behave (even more) like “locals” if they want to engage guests, Hotels V are a comfortable with the current spirit of the city.
“Ethica avant la lettre - it doesn't matter who you are and what you do, as long as you don't bother others and pay the bill! For us, this is the way of (hotel) life”, say Tom and Mirjam while looking outside through the windows of Hotel V on Fizeaustraat with big smiles on their faces.
Their 4.5 star property sits within a location far outside the hardcore centre of the city. "With this location, we were able to demonstrate how neighbourhood involvement works if you put a lot of love and affection into it. We bring energy to the neighbourhood, and the neighbourhood gives us energy back.”
From Amsterdam to Rotterdam?
You could imagine that these two Amsterdammers will never be willing to leave, but Tom and Mirjam see it differently; “The motivation is to make Amsterdam a nicer city and show how it can be done.”
Does that mean, however, that our entrepreneurial spirit stops at the city limits of Amsterdam?
“Definitely not, our roots and the love for Mokum (Amsterdam’s nickname equivalent of New York’s Big Apple) are interwoven in the identity of Hotels V and The Lobby, but that DNA can certainly also travel to a city such as Rotterdam or even abroad. Our love for guests is universal and can be integrated anywhere!"
With the most recent member of the family, Hotel V Fizeaustraat, now almost three years old the need to develop a new location is starting to flow again for both!
"There are entrepreneurial jitters in the back of our mind without immediate necessity. Where and how we are going to do what is unclear, what drives us is our ambition and creative heart without detailed plans. Conceiving a main-dish together once more - a pièce de résistance - could be the icing on the cake for Hotels V and The Lobby. And yes, that location could just be outside of Amsterdam!"
Join Hotel V's Managing Director Jan Stuurman to explore the concept of scaling up whilst retaining your independent spirit at Independent Hotel Show Amsterdam. The session, on the Hotel Vision Stage, will provide a ‘how to' for hoteliers looking to expand their portfolio whilst ensure the guest experience is kept at the heart of the operation.