10 questions for Willem Vos (owner Weekendhotel)
1. Why Weekendhotel?
Around 2002 I was in between jobs and the time seemed right for a website dedicated to special addresses. Yes strange but that didn’t exist yet. First I was afraid it would stay a hobby, but it soon became a serious job.
2. Does it work?
In the beginning we could hardly find 200 nice addresses but around 2005 the market exploded, beautiful places popped up everywhere. Now we have more then 1000 addresses listed and new ones are added everyday. Highlight was a stay in 2006 at a new b&b in Antwerp, the whole places happened to be fully booked by people who found the place through Weekendhotel, yes that made me proud, you see it works!
3. Free stays everywhere I presume?
Yes, that is what everybody says! I must admit its not a bad job but most of the time I am behind my computer in Amsterdam.
4. What’s your background?
I used to be in marketing working for various publishing houses, I also worked for the Dutch Board of Tourism (thats where I got interested in small hotels).
5. How many employees?
Haha, Weekendhotel is just a one persons company. I started it with my then wife Esme, but she moved back to San Francisco. I do everything myself, from bookkeeping to web design. Luckily a lot of work is done by the users of Weekendhotel themselves, they tip us and review hotels. We also have 4 mystery guests, volunteers (journalists) who test hotels undercover.
6. What about the “Weekendhotel guide”?
Together with Mo-media we published in 2006 a guide “the 200 best addresses of the Netherlands and Belgium”. That was a big hit (13.000 copies, sold out!). Maybe it will get a follow up. Apart from that I also write for magazines and hotel books.
7. Expanding abroad?
Yes that sounds attractive but we don’t. We get lots of questions for nice addresses in Paris etc. but I mostly forward them to my little list of favorites abroad. Also abroad there are nice - weekendhotel like - websites, so no need for us to duplicate that!
8. Dreams for the future?
Hhmm, a restoration atelier for antiques in the south of France, an eco farm in Morocco or should I finally start that b&b in Santa Teresa (Rio de Janeiro), I am still dreaming, haven’t decided yet.
9. and what is your favorite hotel?
Ah, again that question. I like big old buildings, something like Leopold in Antwerp for example. But what really makes the difference is the owner. I like it when they are a bit “typical” thats makes memorable encounters and special hotels.
10. Tell us something surprising about yourself?
I am supposed to be staying in hotels always but I really like house-exchanging. Settle down in New York for 2 month - for free - yes you can! So if you own a nice house abroad, see here.