Virtuoso Life - May/June 2018 - 28
the spacious suites impressed cruisers on
Crystal Cruises' 106-passenger Crystal Bach.
Symposium opened with a private welcome
reception at the Netherlands' renowned
Rijksmuseum, which houses masterpieces
by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and other Dutch
artists. (Next year, All the Rembrandts, a major exhibition honoring the 350th anniversary of the Dutch master's death, will bring
together the museum's entire collection of
his paintings, drawings, and prints.)
Networking and business sessions filled
another day, when Virtuoso chairman and
CEO Matthew D. Upchurch addressed the
drawbacks of DIY travel. "The true definition
of luxury is this: I choose to have someone do
it for me," he said. He noted that, while you
can find anything you want online, collaborating with a travel advisor elevates the experience through authentic human connection.
Human connection was key to this
V I RT U O S O L I F E
event, including Virtuoso's on-site connections ITBholland and The Dutch
Travel Advisor, which helped plan sightseeing excursions. The group enjoyed
simply wandering Amsterdam's narrow
cobbled streets, taking in the peaked-roof
canal houses, boats plying the waterways,
masses of flowers, and bicycles zipping
everywhere. There's so much more to
the city than its Red Light District (yes,
it's still a thing): Find local shopping in
the Nine Streets, a quaint micro-neighborhood in the Old Town canal district.
Several attendees picked up handmade
jewelry and knitwear at Cinq Amsterdam, while others splurged on diamonds
at Gassan. A visit to the Anne Frank
House is a must, and Vincent van Gogh
fans can see the largest collection of the
Dutch painter's work at the Van Gogh Museum. (An advisor can arrange advance
tickets and private tours of both.)
Day trips from Amsterdam included
touring Keukenhof gardens, abloom with
millions of tulips, daffodils, and other
blossoms; decorating your own pottery at
the Royal Delft factory; biking past the
centuries-old UNESCO World Heritage
windmills of Kinderdijk; and visiting Rotterdam, Europe's largest port city, and
Arnhem's World War II sites.
At the gala dinner at the National Maritime Museum, where chefs and staff from
all six hotels planned, prepared, and served
a multicourse meal, every table featured
a soaring centerpiece of tulips - but these
were no ordinary flowers. The Amsterdam
hoteliers worked with a tulip farmer to develop and officially designate one of the
Netherland's famed bulbs as the 'Virtuoso'
tulip. Virtuoso's Matthew Upchurch was
presented with a bouquet of the unique
red-and-white blooms - a fitting end to a
week of firsts.
(TABLE AND MATTHEW UPCHURCH) ROBERT STANZIONE, (CHEFS AND HOTEL GENERAL MANAGERS) KIRSTEN VAN SANTEN
The gala at Amsterdam's National Maritime Museum, clockwise from left: The stunning dining venue, chefs from all six Amsterdam hotels, Sofitel Legend
The Grand's Kees Hogetoorn looks on as Virtuoso's Matthew Upchurch christens the 'Virtuoso' tulip with Champagne, and the hotels' general managers.