THE CITY REPORT: AMSTERDAM

Posted in Business, News on 11 April, 2024

Despite the constraints of Amsterdam’s stringent overnight stay policy, the Dutch city’s hotel market navigates challenges through innovation and adaptation.

Amsterdam stands out among European cities, boasting a unique blend of historic charm and modern vibrancy. Its piggledy streets and canal-side gabled buildings exude old-world allure, whilst the famously efficient cycling infrastructure and showcase of modern architecture and design across the city bring a contemporary narrative. Cannabis café culture and the De Wallen red light district once made Amsterdam a hotspot for hedonistic tourists, today however, the city’s image has evolved into a hip haven for trendsetting travellers. Foodies flock for the array of hip restaurants and bars, culture lovers are drawn to see the works of Rembrandt, Vermeer or Van Gogh. And last but not least, international businesses have made the move post Brexit, drawn in by financial technology, international commerce, and highly accessible, well-developed local, national and international transport links, including Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, the Eurostar network and the North Sea Canal.

Presently, over 2,000 international companies have established offices in the metropolitan area, with more than 200 choosing the city as their headquarters, creating a robust corporate market for hospitality. Business demand peaks from February to April, while leisure demand, comprising approximately 65% according to HVS, is most prominent from April to September, resulting in over 80% occupancy for nearly eight months annually under normal circumstances. Peak average rates occur in spring and autumn when the corporate and MICE markets are at their busiest.

Remarkably, Amsterdam has pioneered the adoption of the doughnut economic model, aiming to achieve complete emission-free status by 2030 and full circularity by 2050. The city’s commitment to environmental sustainability is globally recognised, leading it to top the Schroders European Sustainable Cities Index 2021 and earning it the second-best ranking in the world by Time Out in the same year, thanks to its exemplary green credentials.

In line with efforts to maintain a balance in tourism, the municipality of Amsterdam has enforced a stringent overnight stay policy since 2017. This policy has restricted new hotel initiatives that do not align with existing zoning plans, and the municipality is disinclined to cooperate with amendments of leasehold contracts to facilitate additional hotel projects. Beyond managing tourist influx, a key motivation for these restrictions is the preservation of the country’s stretched residential markets.

As per HVS, developers have adapted to these constraints, resulting in a confirmed hotel pipeline of approximately 1,750 rooms. While deals predating the policy continue, this has led to the concentration of most luxury hotels in Amsterdam’s city centre, compelling new developments to emerge in less crowded areas. One such example is the Kabelweg in the city’s western docklands, near the Neptunushaven port and the A10. Here, All-In Real Estate (AIR) commissioned MVSA Architects to design an innovative hotel, a key element of the upcoming Alpha Triangle development, slated to open this year.

The upcoming Harbour City Hotel, under Marriott’s operation, introduces a distinctive concept by integrating three distinct hotel brands on a single site, featuring a total of 599 rooms. The Le Méridien Amsterdam West Port Hotel occupies the light tower, alongside the Courtyard by Marriott Amsterdam Harbour City which will provide a more informal atmosphere. In the dark tower, the Element by Westin Amsterdam Harbour City will focus on short-stay guests. Collectively, these three brands create a diverse offering to cater to various demands and attract a wide array of guests.

Situated in the vibrant Canal District, Citadines Canal Amsterdam is conveniently positioned, just a three-minute walk from Vijzelgracht Metro Station, providing quick access to Amsterdam Central Station and the bustling Zuidas business district. Initially scheduled for an April 2023 launch, the aparthotel complex featuring 93 studios and one-bedroom units, will now open in the first quarter of 2024. Notably EDGE-certified, Citadines Canal Amsterdam will boast sustainable elements, including double-glazed windows for thermal insulation, as well as energy-efficient air handling units and heating systems.

Tapping into the MICE market, the four-star Maritim Hotel Amsterdam will reside within a 110-metre-high tower situated across the IJ river from the city’s central station. Set to open imminently, it will feature 579 guestrooms and 18 conference rooms, inclusive of a forum, six restaurants, and a Sky Bar. With its integrated conference and congress centre capable of accommodating 4,400 people, it will rank as the second-largest event facility in Amsterdam.

Perhaps the most anticipated opening of 2024 for the city will be the 134-key Rosewood Amsterdam, marking the ultra-luxury hospitality group’s eleventh property in Europe and its debut in the Netherlands. Located in the former Palace of Justice, a structure of immense architectural, historical, and social significance, the project has been in collaboration with the Bureau Monumenten en Archeologie (BMA) and The City of Amsterdam to preserve the building’s rich heritage. Netherlands-based architectural firm Kentie & Partners were chosen to oversee the transformation into an ultra-luxury hotel, with acclaimed Dutch designer Piet Boon from Studio Piet Boon leading the interior design.

Spanning both business and leisure markets, aparthotels are gaining prominence in Amsterdam. Joining this trend, Staycity Group is set to introduce its Wilde Aparthotels brand to the Overhoeks borough of Amsterdam-Noord by May 2024. Situated within the 31-storey Yvie complex, a blend of residential and business spaces developed by Union Investment, the 120-apartment property will offer amenities such as a coffee shop, gym, and roof terrace. Conveniently located, the aparthotel is just a five-minute walk from a ferry crossing the IJ, providing easy access to Centraal Station. The ongoing construction of the Overhoeks district, once the site of the Shell headquarters, commenced in 2005 and is scheduled to continue until 2026.

While facing challenges related to regulations and increased competition, the industry continues to evolve, with sustainability, technology integration, and unique experiences at the forefront of developments. The pipeline for new hotel projects indicates a positive outlook for the future, with investments pouring into catering to the diverse needs of travellers. As Amsterdam continues to grow as a global city, its hotel market continues to shape the city’s identity and hospitality landscape.

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