Travelling for work is not nearly as glamorous as it sounds. Lucky I’ve been to Amsterdam before, because I didn’t see any of it this time around. I spent 4.5 days there last week and managed literally an hour of leisure time. ONE HOUR. That consisted of 1 photo of a canal, 1 non work-related lunch and 1 drink.
Between working for 18 hours each day, sleeping, and travelling between meetings I literally spent the entire time I was there inside 4 walls – either meeting rooms, hotel rooms, or taxis. I had an increasing feeling of claustrophobia and started to feel isolated from the real world – having not seen much news or even spoken to anyone not from work, apart from C and even that only happened twice!
That said, I did discover a place I’d like to share with you. As a result of having a series of workshops during one of the busiest weeks in Amsterdam all year, the first two nights we were unable to get accommodation close to the city and instead we had to stay right out of town in this old fort that has been converted to a hotel and wellness centre.
My colleague and I hadn’t booked the hotel ourselves and hadn’t really paid any attention to the print out of the booking details we had with us so you can imagine our surprise as the taxi went around the city from the airport and starting driving past a series of farms, and the added surprise when we turned up and saw an old World War I fort as our hotel.
It was comical in a way as we were caught completely off-guard by the incredibly relaxed woman standing behind the counter of what looked like an entrance to a spa. She must have seen the look of confusion on our faces and the lovely zenned-out woman explained we could indeed check in there. She asked us if we wanted the wellness package before explaining that the pool area had a ‘completely naked rule’. Awkward.
Awkwardness aside, we weren’t going to have time to use the wellness centre in any case so we politely declined and instead asked to be shown through to our rooms and asked where we could eat dinner at that time (it was about 9.30pm when we arrived). She then explained that we were in the middle of no-where and that there weren’t even any pubs around so the only option was the somewhat deserted restaurant they had.
The waitress looked at us like we had two heads when we arrived to the restaurant, computers in hand, and proceeded to work over dinner. I don’t think this was the type of place people normally went on business.
We were met with a similarly strange look of surprise when we asked for a cab to come at 6am to pick us up and inquired what time breakfast was served. A cab was called and we had it gently explained to us that breakfast would begin around 9am. Of course people would be sleeping in.
It became a bit of a joke that we were experiencing one of the most stressful weeks of our careers, and meanwhile we were staying in one of the most relaxing places you could pick. If we didn’t laugh at the fact everyone else there were treating themselves to a series of massages, visits to the saunas and yoga sessions, we may have cried.
All the comedy aside, the place did look like a wonderfully relaxing place to be had we been there under different circumstances… ie on our own time and with our respective partners! The service was incredible and the chef kindly made us a special packed breakfast that we could pick up on our way out the door, including a special gluten free bread he baked especially!
The food we ate (over our work) was delicious and we were told all the ingredients were locally sourced and made on site. The rooms had a unique feel to them given the fact we were in a fort, with curved ceilings and rounded bathroom areas. We each had a view over the moat that surrounded the old fort and the entire place was surrounded by lovely green countryside and grazing cows.
As I said, under different circumstances I could see how it would be a really nice place to chill out for a couple of days! If you ever need a proper getaway check out Fort Resort Beemster. But prepare to be naked in the pool area!