Insider's View


On Location in The Netherlands

We caught up with our new On Location partner, René Buyink of The Dutchman, to learn about his travel concierge services for The Kingdom of the Netherlands as well as Belgium. There’s so much of interest in these countries with many unique features. René has the experience and knowledge to create a vacation experience that is just right for you.

Q: Tell us about the travel services you offer?

First of all, let me express my joy to be part of the Ensemble Travel Group. I am René Buyink, your personal Travel concierge for The Dutchman. My focus is on real travel experiences with a personal touch and to be distinctive. If you are looking for private touring or transfers, assistance to book the right accommodation or a special interest group program, The Dutchman is your partner. Not only in the Netherlands but also combinations with Belgium are possible. With over 25 years of experience, I am well connected and have personally visited hotels, museums and places of interest. As The Dutchman, I see myself as your local partner and friend to help you sell unique and tailor-made experiences to your clients and assure a smooth operation. All services are offered itemized with transparent costings. I look forward to working with your Ensemble Travel agent to create your personalized experience of the Netherlands and Belgium.

Q: What are some of the unique accommodation options available in the Netherlands?

I am happy to report that in quality and in diversity, many new and exciting hotel properties have opened their doors; The famous Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam with smashing views on the canals, The Kruysheren hotel, a converted church in the roman city of Maastricht and many new lifestyle hotels, like the W Amsterdam. Trending is renting an apartment, stay in an upscale Bed & Breakfast or overnight in unusual places.

Q: Tell us about traveling around the Netherlands. What are some of the interesting ways to see the country?  

The compactness of the Netherlands offers many opportunities to discover the country in a limited time. From Amsterdam, nearly all places of interest are easy to visit in a one day excursion. What I like are the 7-day Barge and Bike programs; a nice balance between comfort and active exploring of hidden treasures of the Netherlands. A unique experience is also to fly over the tulip fields in a balloon or by small plane.

Q: For river cruise passengers extending their vacation with a post cruise stay in and around Amsterdam, what would you suggest?

The river cruise ships dock right in the center of Amsterdam, and it would be a shame not to plan a pre- or post-stay. A 2-night/3-day stay would be perfect to explore the city with a guide, plan a day trip to the flower fields (April/May) or the windmill area in combination with historic towns like Haarlem and Leiden. And of course, enjoy the vibrant art scene and museums, from 17th century masterpieces to Dutch design. One of my favorites is a progressive dinner cruise on the canals in a historic boat, stopping at different restaurants for each course to have the dish of your choice catered onboard

Q: What about culinary excursions. What are the most popular food and wine events and tours?

The days of mash potatoes and gravy are over, creative chefs focus on local fresh seasonal products serving tasty dishes in urban settings. Covered food courts in Amsterdam and Rotterdam are a real hit and local markets are popular. Enjoy gourmet walking tours with an expert, make your own cheese or chocolate creation and taste a Dutch Jenever (snaps).

Q: The Netherlands is such a unique country, what special interest tours do you recommend?

I love to design programs with a personal and educational touch. Just to name a few:

  • Go off the beaten path and visit for example a private grower and drive through the bulb fields on a trailer.
  • Discover hidden inner courtyards and be surprised by a private organ concert.
  • Walk along the canals of Amsterdam and visit some of the sumptuous private homes and their gardens with a garden expert.
  • A boat tour is not to be missed.  
  • Neither is a stop for a high tea at the bags and purses museum.

Q: Tell us about some of your personal favorite events and activities that can be arranged for travelers while in the Netherlands.

What I enjoy most is to see the guests enjoying their stay, allowing the flexibility to adapt to the clients' interest (even on the spot). My suggestion would be to combine different means of transportation; combine a walking tour with a private boat tour. Or while touring the country by car, stop and hop on a bike for a 30 minutes' drive over a dyke. Of course, everybody want and need to see the Dutch icons and highlights, but it is so much nicer to visit an authentic windmill where you do not need to cue and are rushed through. A car Rally with a group of friends is always a big success and very special is to cycle through the caves of Maastricht with a light on your helmet and a stop to enjoy merle cave mushroom stew and glass of wine.

Dining along the canals. | Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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