Water has always been hugely important in, and to, Holland. Holland is one of the first and biggest seafaring nations, one quarter of the country lies below sea level, hundreds of miles of dykes contain the water, and a whole province was reclaimed from the sea. While Amsterdam is famous for its canals - did you know that it boasts 1,281 bridges? -, many more cities have canals meandering through their often historical city centres.
When you have a meeting in Holland, 'water' is almost a mandatory item on the programme. Whether you are meeting on the water itself, using water transport to and from the location or for a running (floating) dinner or incentive, or whether you simply want to enjoy spectacular panoramic water views, from just about everywhere in Holland there is a connection with water in some way. Mr. Holland compiled a list of his favourite and most special 'water' locations.
1) Hoist the sails
'Statenjacht De Utrecht' is an authentic reconstruction of a historic sailing ship. The reconstruction is based on original drawings from 1746. The richly decorated State Yachts were deployed during the Eighty Years' War to transport the commanders.
Access De Utrecht via the plank, hear the creaking ropes, smell the fabric, oak wood and wax, marvel at the beautifully panelled gentlemen's lounge, luxurious and decorated in a warm hues. During a meeting or presentation on this beautiful ship, your guests will imagine themselves in the glorious trading heydays of Holland. You may even set sail for a team cruise, to make the experience complete.
2) Fresh off the fishing boat
Located in Scheveningen's first harbour since 2006, Restaurant Mero offers an excellent view of the fishing boats. This close to the source, fish just does not come any fresher. The modern restaurant is all about fish. Large artworks of fishes decorate the walls, and pure and honest dishes are prepared in the open kitchen. Perfect for meetings, group dinners, or simply a great evening with fine dining.
3) Your own private island for the day
The fort island of IJmuiden is located at the mouth of the North Sea, and is part of the defence line of Amsterdam. This fort island was built around 1885 as a key forward defence post to the city of Amsterdam. The beautiful fortress, partly situated underground, is the largest of the Defence Line and a Unesco World Heritage monument. The fortress, situated on a 4 ha.-large island, encompasses an extensive set of endless corridors, over 40 rooms and an impressive domed hall. This all makes for a challenging and, above all, unique meeting and event location. Stories about the fortress are plentiful, including numerous sightings of paranormal activity. Every event starts off on the water, as the only means to get to the island is a boat crossing from the mainland. It is the exclusive dream of every organiser of cre-active events.
4) Cooking on the water
Have you ever enjoyed fine dining while floating on the water? The marina in Streefkerk is home to beautiful restaurant De Limonadefabriek (The Soda Factory), tucked away neatly. This restaurant is located on the banks of the River Lek. Its distinctive architecture - it was nominated for the Building of the Year Award - certainly does not give you the impression that it is actually floating on the water. There is a special room for your meeting or private dining for up to sixteen. Your guests can wake up and enjoy spectacular views of the water after spending the night in one of the six luxury rooms.
De Limonadefabriek's most unique feature is that it has Holland’s one and only floating cooking studio. Here, you team up with your participants to learn how to create your own dinner, during a cooking workshop for groups of up to ten.
5) Sailing meets house
You usually want a unique experience for your client. The Vergaderhuis (Meeting House) offers a special mix of the comfort of a house and the unique experience of a ship. The Meeting House is a unique houseboat that literally allows you to take this house for a sailing trip. It is very suitable for small, informal meetings. The change of environment definitely gives a boost to creativity and inspiration. Catering is provided, including the chef coming over to your 'house' to prepare a full dinner on board. The Vergaderhuis also has two bedrooms for guests to stay the night.
6) Meet in a nature reserve and sleep on a raft
Marina Marnemoende offers a beautiful decor and an inspiring setting for meetings and recreation. The marina, the restaurant, the water sports activities offer a range of possibilities for meetings.
The latest acquisition for meeting is ‘The Rose of Marnemoende’. This round building that floats in the nature reserve can only be reached by boat or on foot. The panoramic view guarantees an inspiring meeting.
If you really fancy a unique 'back to nature' experience, do consider the camping rafts for an overnight stay.
7) Below deck
Your guests are welcome below deck on the Inspiration Boat.
This Amersfoort based motor clipper from 1901 has a spacious hold, which makes for a very suitable out-of-the-ordinary meeting setting. Whether you are berthed or sailing, it is a special experience for your participants to meet in this way.
8) The best waterfront view in town
Amsterdam is synonymous with water. The Amstel river literally cuts the city in two. Many visitors only stay in and around the city centre, but if you take the trouble to wander southward, you will discover one of the most beautiful spots on the water. Riva Cafe Restaurant is the place to be on a sunny day. Enjoy a drink on the terrace while watching the fine boats sail by.
9) At the beach
Most of the water in Holland flows along the countless miles of coastline. From the northern-most tip to the Zeeland islands, there are beaches in virtually every coastal town. Where there are beaches, there are beach pavilions. These informal hostelries allow you to enjoy sun, sand and sea, with a snack and a drink at hand.
In the town of Noordwijk the pavilions are less formal and have resort-like leisure facilities. The pavilion of Hotels van Oranje (Beachclub O) offers a real resort ambiance, for a first-rate day at the beach, an informal meeting, cocktail reception or private event.
10) Departure time
Once this building, one of the first post-war buildings, was the departure hall for travellers boarding ships to far-flung destinations. Passengers waited here patiently for the call to board.
These days, the Vertrekhal (Departure Hall) at the Rotterdam Lekhaven is an inspiring place for meetings and events with great views of the river Maas.
Not only is it a beautiful and very flexible meeting location, the Vertrekhal offers myriad opportunities for a relaxing or active break from the meeting. You can go on a leisurely harbour cruise or opt for the active and intense 20-minute Rib experience. In the venue itself an oyster-tasting session or coffee workshop with top-quality coffees can be arranged for you.