Discover Benelux, Issue 51, March 2018

Page 46

Discover Benelux  |  Discover Genk  |  The Ultimate Destination

The perfect place to unwind TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN  |  PHOTOS: B&B LA MINE COLLINE

Nowadays it is one of the most important industrial cities in Belgium, but Genk was once known for its coal mines. B&B La Mine Colline is the perfect place to accommodate those who want to explore this rich history. The name of the bed and breakfast references the mines that made Genk flourish. La Mine Colline is near Bokrijk, known for its open-air museum. Here, visitors can experience the way people used to work and live in Flanders’ rural areas. It is these areas that have changed rapidly in just a century: Genk transformed from a little town consisting of no more than 2,500 people, to a city of 65,000 inhabitants. Some of the natural scenery was lost due to urbanisation, but not all. Hoge Kempen is the country’s only official national park, and also situated near La Mine Colline. Guests unwind at Gretel Cludts’ home, a house formerly used by engineers, when miners still worked in the area. She has turned her

first floor into three comfortable rooms, each with their own bathroom. “I met people who already owned a B&B and was interested. I have four children and thought to myself: I can make beds, I can clean rooms, so it can’t be that hard.” Cludts has happily been running La Mine Colline since 2006. “The small scale of it makes everything more personal. The nature of a B&B can be a bit invasive on your private space, which is why, for instance, we rebuilt the eating area three years ago. Now, guests have more privacy when they have breakfast.”

As of this year, La Mine Colline is mentioned in the Michelin Guide. To make sure rooms are available check

Enjoy a ‘different’ stay with Different Hotels TEXT: JULIËN L’ORTYE  |  PHOTOS: DIFFERENT HOTELS

When you think of Belgium, you will probably think of places like Antwerp, Brussels, Bruges or Ghent. However, you might forget about the wonderful Genk, in Limburg. When you are up for culture, shopping or relaxation, this city is perfect. Especially when you stay at one of the Different Hotels. We decided to have a chat with Different Hotels’ COO Rachida Naya, to figure out why their hotels are so special. “We try to set up unique hotels, every one of them with their own story. For example: our Carbon Hotel in Genk was among Forbes’ list of the ‘50 best recently opened hotels in the world’. Being close to Germany and the Netherlands and located at the border of Hoge Kempen National Park - the first national park to be set up by the Flemish government - Carbon Hotel offers everything you could wish for. 46  |  Issue 51  |  March 2018

In order to live up to their name, Different Hotels is always looking for buildings that tell their own tale. Terhills Hotel (Maasmechelen) for example, served as one of the ‘offices’ of a former colliery, and Eburon Hotel (Tongeren) used to be a monastery. Because of those special stories, every hotel is, indeed, different. “We do not do uniformity,” Naya says. “Some hotels are very trendy and modern, others are more classic and very detailed.” Regarding their guests, Naya says that they would go through the fire for them. “We are always looking for ways to make their stay even more convenient, to see if they need extra attention. For example, to find the perfect restaurant to discover the great hospitality that is renowned in Limburg.” Other things they do in order to please their guests, is anticipating special days, such as Chinese New Year, or World Sleep Day. Going the extra mile, every time, every day. Just to make their guests’ stay a bit different.