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1) About who? About you!

Before I give you some insight in my backgrounds, I would like to ask you, distinguished reader of this Blog, to comment to this page and introduce your good self with some of your own background information. I – and possibly your fellow readers- would like to know who you are! Please feel free to promote yourself here shamelessly and even to rant about what I write or wrote.

Hi, Nice to meet you here! I’m Happy Hotelier AKA GJE AKA Guido J. van den Elshout, a passionate ex hotelier and blogger from The Hague, The Netherlands.

2) Other Places, platforms, syndications, gremia and communities where you can find me:

3) About who? About me?

A happy doorman, bellman, concierge, front desk agent, technology engineer, limo driver, valet parking attendant, city guide, Sargent at Arms and photographer at wedding ceremonies, cleaning boy, gardener, pond- and central heating technician, personal assistant, butler, cook, designer, developer and owner of a small and very luxurious Hotel in The Hague, The Netherlands: Haagsche Suites.

Hence a Happy Hotelier with a keen interest in new developments in luxury travel, luxury hotels, luxury B&B’s, architecture, design, travel- and hotel gadgets, guest satisfaction, web design and web promotion of travel sites and hotel- and accommodation sites.

About some of these items and other things that interest me or are useful, I blogged already two years as co author on the Dutch language Blog: Weekendhotel As far as I can see now, my first blog post was Het best bewaarde geheim Some posts were lost during various transitions.

So it’s time to address a wider audience in the English language.

And here is my rather noisy interview thanks to Phil Caine in March 2008 at ITB08 in Berlin:

4) Happy Hotelier’s aims are:

  • Making interesting Weekend hotel posts available in the English Language;
  • Addressing issues not suitable for Weekend hotel;
  • Giving foreign visitors of The Netherlands and of the cities The Hague (Den Haag), Amsterdam, Delft, Leiden and Rotterdam a bit more insight in the Dutch accommodation scene, Dutch idiosyncrasies and (Dutch) things to do;
  • To offer a platform for my own musings on several issues including some hotel reviews.

5) A Weekend Hotel

A weekend hotel is usually a small, independently (mostly family) owned hotel. It offers personal care, service and attention. Usually it has a personal touch of design and can be located in a historic building or an unusual building. The site Weekendhotel has a collection of such hotels in The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. The accommodations vary from simple comfy to over the top Luxury.

6) Launch of Happy Hotelier

Happy Hotelier went public on August 23, 2006. Translations of the Weekend hotel Blog posts dated before this date will keep their original time stamps.

7) My first English Interview

1 March 2007 Paul Johnson published the following interview with me on his A Luxury Travel Blog. Today, 11 March 2007, I feel free to copy the interview here, as the interview will gradually disappear from his screen.

What is it that you do exactly?

1) I started my working life as an international tax lawyer and practiced as such for over 25 years and traveled extensively. In 1996 my Dad asked me to take the helm of the family company here in The Hague. Consequently, after living more than 25 years elsewhere, I moved to The Hague where I was born and raised. I moved into a town house that is located back to back with the company’s office: hurray, no more commuting! The company is engaged in renting out residential property, mainly apartments, the majority of which the company has built itself in a time span of over 110 years. I am proud to be the 4th generation CEO of the company. Our tenant record is a person who lived in one of our apartments for over 75 years! Under my reign the company renovated many properties. While working for the company I phased out and finally terminated my tax practice.

2) In 2000, we were able to buy a Siamese twin townhouse next to our home, We renovated it extensively into something new. Something between a luxurious B&B and the suite floor of a luxurious hotel without the cheap rooms. We called it Haagsche Suites (i.e. Suites of The Hague). My wife, a friend of hers and I operated Haagsche Suites next to the family business since the fall of 2002 until Christmas 2013.

3) A friend of mine had set up a website dedicated to listing and independently reviewing B&B s and the smaller independent hotels in the Netherlands and Belgium. Upon his request I participate in the Dutch language blog forming part of the site. After suggesting to him to enhance the international reach of his site we decided in good harmony that I would start up an English language blog of my own. That became Happy Hotelier.

Summarizing: [snipped … because it is actually the same as the second paragraph of this page]

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

Seeing our guests (including your good self) frequently being genuinely and pleasantly surprised when we surpass their expectations.

What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?

A difficult question to answer. I am inclined to shameless self promotion, but I’ll give you some of my best experiences.

Recently we stayed in the Radisson SAS Style Hotel, Vienna. Apart from some glitches, the service is excellent, the location is excellent for a Viennese shopping tour in the very center of Vienna and directly opposite one of the best old fashioned coffee houses of Vienna (Central). This is really a stylish and very well appointed hotel that has avoided the usual pitfalls of the average design or boutique hotel: its rooms are spacey, it has a very good feel despite the design, it has some very clever design details, it has free WiFi, and above all: location, location and location.

In summer we usually stay a couple of nights at the Babenberger Hof in Mödling, Austria.
Mödling was the seat of the Babenbergers long before the Habsburgers took the reigns of Austria. It is a small old town about 20 km south west from Vienna. It is in the wine area. In the relatively warm summers the temperature is always a bit lower than the temperature in Vienna itself. The rooms in the Babenberger Hof are middle of the road, but they come at affordable rates. The service in this family owned hotel is excellent and, last but not least, its kitchen is excellent.

The Bentley experience: when we arrive somewhere and a nice Bentley (no, alas not ours) is parked in front of the place. It happened when we stayed in Ockenden Manor last summer (nice food!), at Residenz Heinz Winkler and at our usual German stopover Hotel Sonne in Offenburg, Germany – see also my own post about them), then it is highly likely we will enjoy ourselves and feel at home.

What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?

In December 2006 we stayed at German’s top chef Heinz Winkler’s hotel/restaurant Residenz Heinz Winkler He has a wine bible of over 950 wines. Never seen so many wines listed in a restaurant wine list before. Apart from a really really excellent diner, the sommelier did an excellent job by waltzing the wine of choice fully around in all the glasses. It enhanced the experience of tasting tremendously and I had never seen a sommelier do this before.

Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?

Yes I do and I did, but I would not like to brag about them and believe they certainly would not like me to brag about them.

What currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?

A visit to Copenhagen; a visit to South Africa around Cape Town; I will visit Istanbul also later this year; a wine buying spree in the Bordeaux area and many more.

Thanks, Guido. And yes, your place most certainly did exceed expectations!

Added November 9, 2009

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