2020 was a year overshadowed by negativity for many people. Yet there are entrepreneurs who saw opportunities in spite of everything and are forging ahead in 2021. One of them is Kees Hensen, hotelier at QL Hotels Villa Ruimzicht in Doetinchem and recently also Hotel de Wereld in Wageningen. Kees has been a member of QL’s Advisory Board for many years.
What was the positive side of 2020 for you?
‘We opened Villa Wanrooy in Doetinchem in October 2020. It’s a historic building, actually one of the oldest in the city. Villa Wanrooy is a boutique hotel with 10 rooms, which also has a restaurant, and a grocery and delicatessen, Eetwinkel van Mien, stocking local products. In the shop we sell the very best the Achterhoek region has to offer! And fortunately in the autumn it was allowed to remain open.
In 2020 we also became involved with Hotel de Wereld in Wageningen. We’re going to be adding a new building there within a few years with 25 to 30 rooms. We’re also planning to create vegetable gardens, and a cinema in the old auditorium – these were plans that were already underway. We’re collaborating with five partners, including the University of Wageningen. An important theme in the hotel is that we want to tell the story of peace in the broadest sense of the word. (Hotel de Wereld is famous as the place where the German army capitulated in 1945, ed.) And that also needs to happen in a more contemporary and interactive way, perhaps using audio-visual tools. The rooms are linked thematically to freedom fighters, such as Nelson Mandela, or the Dutch women’s suffrage campaigner Aletta Jacobs. In Doetinchem, at Villa Ruimzicht our motto is the three A’s, ‘Achterhoek, Artisanship and Attention’, and at Hotel de Wereld we’ve opted for: ‘Pampering, Veluwe and Freedom’. And in Wageningen we’ll be holding major freedom celebrations again in May, as is the tradition.’
What are your plans for Villa Ruimzicht in 2021?
‘At Villa Ruimzicht we want to start developing in the direction of urban farming. We want to create a space in the park where people who are disadvantaged in the labour market can work in vegetable gardens. We really want to grow our own vegetables and herbs. Most of all, I hope that we can pick up our old life, and meet each other again.’