Princess Laurentien inaugurates the Airport Library at the new Holland Boulevard on Wednesday

NETHERLANDS. Schiphol Group yesterday unveiled the Holland Boulevard, a high-class Dutch-themed retail, food & beverage, lounge and entertainment zone, located airside between piers E and F at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

The zone aims to deliver a strong flavour of Holland to the five million departing and transit passengers through the area each year. It includes what the airport says is the world’s first airport library, a Dutch Kitchen Bar & Cocktails outlet operated by HMSHost (see Picture Gallery and details below) and a Bols Genever Experience unit, displaying the history of the well-known Dutch brand and offering passengers the opportunity to mix their own Bols cocktails.

Schiphol Group CEO Jos Nijhuis: “We offer much more than simply an airport facility”

Also open are a Rijksmuseum store, a Kids’ Forest play area, a Baby Care Lounge, a Back To Life massage zone, an area selling premium chocolates and flowers, a unit offering long-stay transit passengers the chance to undertake excursions into Amsterdam, plus a series of “˜living rooms’ with fireplaces and televisions. The area also houses the airport’s casino, which has been open for a number of years and has been refurbished.

The zone fits with Schiphol Group’s vision to devote 10% of space at the airport to entertaining passengers and non-revenue-generating activities such as the library, museum and baby care areas.

An opening ceremony (attended by The Moodie Report) yesterday, principally to celebrate the Airport Library, was led by Schiphol Group CEO Jos Nijhuis and Her Royal Highness Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands.

Princess Laurentien tests the innovative digital offer at the library, amid huge interest from local Dutch media

Princess Laurentien called the development “ground-breaking” and “trend-setting”. Nijhuis said: “More than 40% of all our passengers are transfer passengers from all corners of the globe, who only briefly set foot in the airport. Besides offering these passengers an enjoyable stay at Schiphol, we would like them to sample Dutch culture so that they may actually decide to visit the Netherlands on the next occasion.”

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Otto Ambagtsheer on how Holland Boulevard gives Schiphol a fresh Sense of Place

He added: “Amsterdam Airport Schiphol aims to become and remain Europe’s preferred airport – which means that we would like passengers to opt for travelling via Schiphol. We encourage them to do so by offering much more than simply an airport facility. We want passengers to feel welcome, and would like to offer them an enjoyable and pleasurable stay.

“This includes catering and retail outlets as well as facilities providing a pleasant and inspiring ambience for people to work in. So, we’ve developed “˜living rooms’ throughout the whole area, and we’ve taken everyone into account, right down to “˜tiny tot’ passengers.

“The Airport Library offers passengers the opportunity to read books and get an introduction to Dutch literature during their stay at Schiphol. Not only does the Airport Library make a highly valuable contribution to our AirportCity concept – because of course every city has a library – but it also serves to showcase Dutch culture.

“The Airport Library service comprises Dutch fiction in as many as 29 different languages, which passengers can either read here at the airport, or take them with them on their travels as a digital version at no charge. The collection also contains an extensive range of music by Dutch musicians, films as well as photo books offering an impression of Dutch culture.”

Holland Boulevard lies in a vital transit zone between piers E and F at Schiphol

HMSHost’s Dutch Kitchen is among the highlights of the new area

Speaking to The Moodie Report, Schiphol Group Managing Director Business Area Consumer Otto Ambagtsheer said: “We wanted to create a little piece of Holland at Schiphol, and we have achieved that. We’ve tried to create an area where passengers can relax – transit times are on average five to seven hours – so this is an additional service, and brings an element of the Dutch culture to Schiphol.”

Otto Ambagtsheer: Bringing an extra element of Dutch culture to Amsterdam Schiphol

The Rijksmuseum store offers a broad range of product evoking the work of the Dutch masters, complementing the permanent artwork on display in the neighbouring gallery. The Back To Life massage area offers foot, chair and aqua massages, while the four “˜living rooms’ feature TVs, comfortable seating and digital fireplaces and one houses a grand piano, where passengers are encouraged to sit and play tunes.

The Bols Genever Experience offers a classy introduction to the famous Dutch spirit

HMSHost adds Dutch flavour
One of the highlights of the Holland Boulevard is HMSHost’s Dutch Kitchen Bar & Cocktails (with design input from Creneau International), which adds to the food & beverage concessionaire’s portfolio of more than 60 outlets at Schiphol.

Guests can sit in one of the enormous Delft Blue teacups, or at the “˜Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’ communal dining table in this colourful, diverse F&B section. On offer are Dutch specialties such as croquettes on farmhouse bread, traditional “poffertjes” and Dutch pancakes. All dishes are made exclusively from organic local produce and prepared fresh in the open kitchen.

Dutch Kitchen’s china service was designed by Royal Delft, the leading producer of genuine Delft Blue earthenware. Another feature of the Dutch Kitchen is the fashion exhibition pillar where works by the Netherlands’ leading fashion designers are on display. Designer Francisco Van Benthum integrated elements of Dutch folklore into the staff uniforms.

The bar area was developed together with Lucas Bols BV to create an entertaining experience where guests can assemble their own cocktail using the Bols Cocktail Selector at the entrance, and where travellers can test the smells and tastes of Bols ingredients. Other Dutch partners in the development include Douwe & Egberts and Heineken.

Schiphol Group’s Ambagtsheer said: “We are proud to have this great Dutch Bar & Dutch Kitchen at our new Holland Boulevard. Guests enjoy here typical Dutch food and drinks. Our partnership with HMSHost is always inspiring and this innovative concept fits perfectly with our strategy to be Europe’s Preferred Airport.”

HMSHost Europe and Middle East Vice President Dawn Wilding said: “Holland Boulevard is anchored by the Dutch Kitchen Bar & Cocktails, a flagship combination of the best flavours and beverages of the Netherlands that showcases our ability to provide inspiring and authentic restaurants in travel venues.”

Mime artists in Dutch costume entertained guests at yesterday’s opening event

Comment: In the vital transit zone between piers E and F, Holland Boulevard delivers a strong Dutch Sense of Place to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, one that it has probably been missing until now, and certainly has not been available on this eye-catching, diverse scale.

With its mix of living space, play zones for kids, a museum, library plus retail and food & beverage, it has given new life to what was previously a rather sterile area.

The library concept adds a touch of class. Supported by the Dutch Public Libraries, it’s not a revenue generating area for the airport, but it does enhance the consumer services offer and sense of well-being, especially for the many transit passengers that pass through the Boulevard.

The Kids’ Forest, ‘living rooms’ and piano are sure to attract passengers into the relaxation areas

The newly enlarged Kids’ Forest sits neatly alongside one of the “˜living room’ areas, allowing parents to relax as their children play – typical of the simple but well thought out stress-busting solutions that Schiphol Group has introduced for passengers. Impressively, we think, there will be more of the same to come across the airport: the company says it will devote 10% of its floor space to entertainment and relaxation, aimed at making the journey easier.

Although some of the areas don’t provide a direct financial return, the commercial business case is already proving itself in those that do. For example, since its soft opening last month, the new-look food & beverage offer has proved a success, says HMSHost, with revenues growing by more than +20% compared to the performance of the previous concepts it operated between piers E and F. Average spends have also risen due to the higher proportion of hot, freshly prepared food it has made available.

Schiphol Group’s Consumers division now has big plans to develop further, with new concepts and brands planned for the overdue modernisation of Lounge 3, which begins early next year. The vibrancy, newness and consumer-friendliness of Holland Boulevard suggest that the future of non-aeronautical activities at Schiphol is in good hands.

The Back To Life and Rijksmuseum concepts add diversity and vitality to the zone