Discover Benelux, Issue 75, March 2020

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Discover Benelux  |  Contents

Contents MARCH 2020



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Following on from his enormous success with the comedy series Roi de la vanne on French TV channel Canal+, not to mention his popularity on the France Inter radio show La Bande Originale, Belgian funnyman Guillermo Guiz is quickly becoming one of the biggest names in francophone comedy. We caught up with the Brussels-born comic ahead of the opening night of his new stand-up show, Au Suivant! at the Théâtre de la Toison d’Or in Brussels.



A Taste of Flanders





Education & Training Special

Column, regulars and more We take a look at the month ahead in Benelux business, as well as profiling the companies you need to know about.


Ten of the Tastiest Dutch Snack Foods There’s no denying that the love for snacks foods is intrinsically woven into Dutch culture just as much as tulips, clogs and cheese. We countdown some of the tastiest snack foods you won’t want to miss the next time you visit the country.

All Spotlights on Rotterdam We present our must-visit addresses in a city bursting with world-class museums, superb restaurants and vibrant nightlife.

Flemish Additive Manufacturing A selection of innovative Flemish companies have been at the forefront of additive manufacturing, or 3D-printing as it is best known, for many years now. We look at some of the industry’s key players.

Belgium is known throughout the world for its beer, yet the country also excels in producing many other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. We raise a glass to some of the finest producers of wine, beer and spirits in Flanders.


Top Coaching Guide We profile some of the Benelux region’s leading coaching experts, who can help you in areas such as communication and team-building.

Discover Luxembourg From charming towns to unique dining experiences via historical sites and world-renowned festivals, there is something to suit all tastes in this month’s bumper guide to the Grand Duchy.



Guillermo Guiz


Fashion Picks  |  8 Desirable Designs Out & About  |  98 Columns

From inspiring international schools to renowned business courses, we bring you a selection of the Benelux region’s best educational and training establishments.

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  3

Discover Benelux  |  Editor’s Note

Dear Reader,

Discover Benelux Issue 75, March 2020

Executive Editor Thomas Winther

Eddi Fiegel Eline Joling Ingrid Opstad Kate Harvey Lauren Walker Martin Pilkington Matt Antoniak Maya Witters Michiel Stol Myriam Gwynned Paola Westbeek Shanna McGoldrick Stephanie Uwalaka Stuart Forster

Creative Director Mads E. Petersen

Cover Photo © Louis de Caunes, OlympiaProd

Editor Anna Villeleger

Sales & Key Account Managers Mette Tonnessen Katia Sfihi Petra Foster Jan-Hein Mensink

Published 03.2020 ISSN 2054-7218 Published by Scan Client Publishing Print Uniprint

Copy-editor Karl Batterbee Graphic Designer Audrey Beullier Feature Writer Arne Adriaenssens Contributors Bas van Duren Cherine Koubat Colette Davidson

Publisher: Scan Group 15B Bell Yard Mews Bermondsey Street London SE1 3TY United Kingdom

Spring Equinox is also just around the corner, bringing longer and – hopefully – warmer days. In honour of the new season, this month we head to Luxembourg, where the famous Buergbrennen festival (Bonfire Day), sees various towns across the country set fire to a large wooden cross in order to ‘burn the winter’. Spring is a wonderful time to visit the Grand Duchy, and after reading our special guide starting on page 10, you will surely be inspired to take a trip. Fresh from his enormous success with the comedy series Roi de la vanne on French TV channel Canal+, this month’s cover star is Belgian comic Guillermo Guiz, who started this year with a sellout run of his new stand-up show Au Suivant!. I had the pleasure of speaking to Brussels-born Guiz, who still prefers to live in his native city, despite his huge success in neighbouring France. In our interview, he reminisces about growing up in the Belgian capital and explains how he came up with the pseudonym Guillermo (his real name is Guy Verstraeten). Find out more on page 44. Elsewhere in the magazine you can enjoy a Rotterdam city special, an education guide, and a countdown of some of the tastiest Dutch snack foods. I think my personal favourite has to be the stroopwafel, a type of gooey caramel wafer which is said to have originated in Gouda at the beginning of the 19th century. I’m not alone, either, as today, approximately 300 million stroopwafels are consumed annually in the Netherlands. Enjoy the magazine.

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© All rights reserved. Material contained in this publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior permission of Scan Group – a trading name of Scan Magazine Ltd. This magazine contains advertorials/promotional articles.

4  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

Welcome to the March issue. By now, the signs of spring are slowly being ushered in, even in the chilliest parts of the Benelux. You will have probably already spied those first crocuses, a sign that tulip season, when the Netherlands becomes transformed into a sea of flowers, is only a few more weeks away.

Anna Villeleger, Editor

Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Fashion Picks


For the love of denim! If you love denim you will be happy to know it is a big trend for 2020. This timeless, classic and fashionable textile is great for spring and both versatile and durable. Dress it up or down and be creative to express your individual style this season. TEXT: INGRID OPSTAD  |  PRESS PHOTOS

Skinny jeans Skinny jeans are a great staple in any wardrobe and will always be in style. This new Mahlia jean pair from Tranquillo is available in three different colours and is made of 98 per cent organic cotton, so very comfortable to wear. This ‘eco stretch denim’ is also GOTS-certified. Pair it with a printed tee, your favourite pair of trainers and sunglasses and you are ready for sunny spring days. Tranquillo, ‘Mahlia’ jeans, €69.90 Tranquillo, ‘Jafahri’ T-shirt, €31.90

Not just blue Remember; denim doesn’t have to be in classic blue, and comes in all different colours and shades. This Cruz denim jacket from Weekday is great for throwing over your spring outfit and looks great together with jeans. It is a workwear-inspired-style cut in organic cotton denim with a belted waist to accentuate your shape. Weekday, ‘Cruz’ denim jacket, €60

Let’s go shopping When putting together your spring attire, do not forget the accessories. This Joy tote bag by Won Hundred is made from raw denim and covered with see-through PVC to keep you right on trend. It features a small pocket inside and adjustable logo straps for comfort, and is perfect for a shopping trip. Won Hundred, ‘Joy’ tote bag, €108 6  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

Look sharp A denim shirt belongs in every modern man’s wardrobe and this version by Dutch brand Van Gils is an excellent one to keep going back to. Made from high-quality cotton in an Oxford weave with an indigo wash, it is cut in a slim shape and available in navy or light blue. For a smart and trendy look, pair it with this tailored suit in cognac and knitted tie in the same tones. Van Gils, ‘Extren’ denim shirt, €99.95 Van Gils, ‘Elax Split’ jacket, cognac, €399.95 Van Gils, ‘Elax Split’ trousers, cognac, €149.95 Van Gils, knitted tie with striped design, €59.95

Take it easy If you prefer a more relaxed and casual style, we suggest a classic black pair of jeans, and Model One from Minimum is as simple as it gets. They are comfortable and have an elastic touch from the cotton and elastane mix. Minimum, ‘Model One’ jeans 6430, €70

Effortless elegance Top your outfit off with a pair of loafers. These Double T distressed denim loafers from Tod’s are a great fit this spring and will help you look stylish and feel comfortable. Made in Italy with effortless elegance, for the contemporary lifestyle. Tod’s, ‘Double T’ used effect denim loafers, €450 Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  7

Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Desirable Designs


Here comes the sun Spring is finally around the corner, and with it come those fragile first rays of sun we’ve all been craving throughout the cold winter months. But March weather is notoriously volatile, so we suggest bringing the sunshine into your home at every opportunity. Here are five designs that will brighten up even the dreariest day. TEXT: MAYA WITTERS  |  PRESS PHOTOS


1. Sunny centrepiece

2. Smell the flowers


Spring means an abundance of blooming flowers, and who can resist bringing some of that beauty into their home? Give your bouquet a worthy pedestal with the Speckle Vase from &Klevering, whose soulful home designs have made it a household name in the Netherlands and beyond. €45


3. Get carried away Berlin-based brand Ucon Acrobatics anchors all its designs in ethical, sustainable and eco-friendly manufactur-ing practices – and on top of all that, it makes stunning bags, too. Its versatile Jasper Backpack will be sure to put a spring in your step. Bonus: it’s waterproof, so your belongings are safe even if the weather turns. €89.99

Sofacompany is synonymous with highquality, sustainable Danish design, and its striking Flora chair is no exception. Its soft lines and warm amber colour will make this comfy seat the eye-catcher of your living room, and undoubtedly the most popular spot in the house. €399



4. Eyes on the prize

5. Cosy in yellow

With the sun showing its face again, it’s important to protect your eyes while you’re out and about. And what better way than with eco-friendly, Belgian design? Antonio Verde creates stylish designs from sustainable sources, like this Alicante Panter model with a recycled frame and bamboo temples. €59.95

If your interior is in need of a refresh, Hinck Amsterdam has got you covered with its extensive Ochre pillow collection. With over 20 designs in hues ranging from citrusy yellow to blazing gold, there’s something here for everyone. And you can never have too many pillows, right? From €35

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Photo: Sabino Parente Photographer


Discover Luxembourg From charming towns to unique dining experiences via historical sites and world-renowned festivals, there is something to suit all tastes in this month’s bumper guide to the Grand Duchy. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: LUXEMBOURG FOR TOURISM

Photo: Alfonso Salgueiro,

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Discover Benelux  |  Special Guide  |  Discover Luxembourg

A delightful slice of northern Europe Bordered by Germany, Belgium and France, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a delightful slice of northern Europe. Boasting beautiful countryside, countless cultural and historical attractions and a high standard of living, there are many reasons we love Luxembourg.

Small but perfectly formed Small but perfectly formed, Luxembourg boasts something for everyone. With its UNESCO-listed historic centre perched on a dramatic clifftop, entering Luxembourg City is like stepping inside a fairytale. Outside the capital you will find rolling forested hills, postcard-perfect villages and breathtaking medieval castles. Meanwhile, oenophiles will want to go wine tasting in the Moselle Valley, and sporty types will enjoy hiking amid the rocky gorges of the Müllerthal region.

Photo: Pulsa Pictures

Reasons we love Luxembourg: – Situated in the heart of Europe, Luxembourg is easily accessible from anywhere in the continent – Luxembourg is one of the safest countries in the world – The country offers a varied cultural, historical, architectural and industrial heritage – Travelling around is easy thanks to the country’s superb public transport network – Over 170 different nationalities live in Luxembourg, making it wonderfully diverse

Photo: Andreas Kern

Photo: Jonathan Godin

Chateau-Useldange. Photo: Benoît Roland

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  11

Discover Benelux  |  Special Guide  |  Discover Luxembourg

Photo: Frédéric Collin

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Discover Benelux  |  Special Guide  |  Discover Luxembourg

Photo: Alfonso Salgueiro,

D AT E S F O R Y O U R D I A R Y Luxembourg City Film Festival 5 - 15 March

is the oldest and largest carnival parade in Luxembourg.

The perfect festival for discovering films made in/with Luxembourg, this event comprises feature and short films, documentaries and fiction as well as one-off events. As well as unmissable screenings, visitors can meet some of the industry’s leading figures.

Springbreak Luxembourg 12 - 15 March

Night of the Cathedrals 9 May

Get ready for the summer with this promotional event showcasing everything from gastronomic delights to garden trends and the latest home gadgets.

The cathedral of Luxembourg is one of the capital’s must-see sites. On this special night the doors of the cathedral will stay open overnight, with a programme including concerts, guided tours, lectures and more.

Carnival Parade Remich 22 March

Admire a great procession through the streets of Remich in a festive atmosphere. De klenge Maarnicher Festival 21 March - 9 May

This music festival in the Luxembourg Ardennes features national musicians as well as leading international artists.

Carnival Parade Pétange 22 March

An unmissable and internationally renowned event, the cavalcade of Pétange

Luxembourg Museum Days 16 - 17 May

The perfect opportunity to explore Luxembourg’s rich heritage, this cultural event was created in 1997 and offers visitors the chance to visit museums in Luxembourg free of charge. Around 40 museums participate in the event, offering a varied cultural programme comprising workshops, guided tours and more.

Photo: Andreas Kern

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  13

Beauty in darkness – and light TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON  |  PHOTOS: CLERVAUX CITY

This spring, Clervaux in Luxembourg’s Ardennes explores the beauty of dark skies – through art, music, and some extraordinary photography. And there are many more reasons year-round to visit the town. The festival, NIGHT, Light & More, in the north of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg will come to a stunning climax this May in the beautiful town of Clervaux. Exhibitions and other creative events are taking place there as part of this drive to celebrate the splendour of the night sky, and to facilitate our ability to see it.The festival wants to alert people to the international problem of light pollution caused by excessive, misdirected artificial light in the night environment, pollution that disrupts ecosystems and spoils our natural environment. 14  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

Innovative spectacles The Our Nature Park and the Upper Sûre Nature Park are joining efforts across the country to address this. New public lighting will be installed in 2020 in Clervaux with that in mind, and from Friday 22 May to Sunday 24, the small town will witness some amazing evening musical performances and innovative spectacles – among them, The Museum of the Moon – to mark the closure of the NIGHT, Light & More Festival.

Wide-ranging events Clervaux of course offers a multitude of reasons to visit throughout the year, both in daytime and at night, and not just during the NIGHT, Light & More Festival. Most notably, the town has long been the home of the historic and UNESCO-listed pho-

tography collection The Family of Man, exhibited at the chateau since 1994. There are plenty of other photography exhibitions in the town, too, with a succession of open-air displays by ‘Clervaux – Cité de l’image’ showing the work of contemporary photographers on walls, in the flower gardens and on thoroughfares throughout Clervaux, with guided

Discover Benelux  |  Special Guide  |  Discover Luxembourg

visits bookable through the year. This year’s photographic season is titled ‘Still Light’ referencing the NIGHT, Light & More festival. You can discover White Night by Gilles Coulon; Cosmos by Francois Fontaine; Andreas Gefeller’s Soma; Sun in an Empty Room by Anna Lehmann-Brauns; Mona Kuhn’s She Disappeared into Complete Silence, and 1h by Hans-Christian Schink – all meant to be enjoyable and enjoyed by everyone, not just photography aficionados.

Museums, Abbey, Chateau… The town’s authorities are hopeful visitors will take the time to see what else Clervaux has to offer, because it’s a fabulous place for a relaxing trip. Along with The Family of Man collection, the Chateau houses two museums, one commemorating The Battle of the Bulge fought in this area, the other with 1:100-scale models depicting the chateaux and fortresses of Luxembourg in miniature. The Benedictine Abbey of St Mauritius that perches on a ridge above the town, too, and the parish church close to its centre, are also architecturally stunning. There’s another photography link here – the Abbey holds a photographic record of the life and work

of the Benedictines. The late-Baroque Loretto Chapel on the eastern side of the town, and the Gothic church of St Hubertus in neighbouring Munshausen, are likewise more than worth a look. In the town centre, largely pedestrianised, Clervaux offers plenty of high-quality retail therapy. And in culinary terms that same relatively small and cosy area holds the best elements of Luxembourg’s culinary traditions all within strolling distance: top-class restaurants and a selection of bars, and a range of places where people new to the region will be delighted to find truly local products – beer from an artisan brewery, cider made by the Abbey’s monks, traditional patisseries, and superb hand-made chocolates. The country around Clervaux that in 1944 saw the savage fighting of The Battle of the Bulge, but these days is a place of gentle hills, green fields and woodlands, and plenty of pretty villages, should not be forgotten in a visit to the town either – The Our Nature Park, of which Clervaux is part, is a particularly lovely area, and at Munshausen there’s a nature centre that will fascinate adults and children alike.

The celebration of dark skies will come to a suitable conclusion at midnight on Sunday 24 May with the projection of artistic images onto the imposing façade of Clervaux’s chateau. But make no mistake, this fabulous little corner of Luxembourg will continue to innovate, entertain and enlighten visitors as it already has been doing for a very long time. The Family of Man – 503 images – 273 different photographers from 68 countries – Assembled by LuxembourgAmerican photographer Edward Steichen – First exhibited 1955 at New York’s MoMA – Seen by ten million visitors since its creation – Housed at Clervaux Chateau since 1994 – Since 2003 included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World register

Photo: CNA/Romain Girtgen

Clervaux - cité de l’image : She Disappeared into Complete Silence by Mona Kuhn, exhibition view. Photo: Clervaux - cité de l’image

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  15

The historic Luxembourg village where European unity was born TEXT: EDDI FIEGEL  |  PHOTOS: SCHENGEN

There’s something special about border towns and none less so than Schengen in south-eastern Luxembourg. Situated at the bottom of the triangle where the Benelux countries border Germany and France, Schengen caught the attention of the world in June 1985 when it hosted the historic signing of the ‘Schengen Treaty’, formalising the agreement between the original EU countries to abolish border controls between them. 35 years on, Schengen attracts some 50,000 people every year from as far as China and Australia and it has become the flagship for a Europe ‘sans frontières’ (‘without borders’). However, Schengen is also known for much more. People come to visit not only Schengen’s museums, in particular the European Museum which commemorates the signing of the treaty, but also the region’s green, 16  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

undulating countryside with its lakes, wine-making villages, nature reserves and gardens, and not to mention its superb food and wine. There is also exceptional countryside for walking, with magnificent views across the Moselle valley, sloping vineyards and some very special flora and fauna. “We are in a unique location,” says Michel Gloden, mayor of Schengen, “where three countries meet. People come here to learn about the history of the European Union, and also explore the beauty of our landscape, and the different countries on our doorstep.”

Museums Opened in 2010, the European Museum is dedicated to the history and significance of the Schengen agreement. A permanent exhibition with interactive displays covering some 200 square metres

retraces the evolution of Europe from a series of different countries with borders to a union sharing a common citizenship. Other fascinating museums in Schengen’s ‘three border’ area include the ‘A Possen’ Wine, Toy and Folklore Museum – the recreated home of a typical local winemaking family during the 18th and 19th centuries, which also has a permanent exhibition of toys from past times. The Valentiny Foundation, meanwhile, celebrates the work of Francois Valentiny, the internationally renowned Luxembourgish contemporary architect and Schengen native.

Nature reserves, lakes and beaches At the base of the wine slopes between the villages of Schengen and Remich, the Haff Réimech Nature Reserve is known for its huge range of bird species, flora

Discover Benelux  |  Special Guide  |  Discover Luxembourg

and fauna and is also home to the futuristic, architect-designed ‘Biodiversum’ – a museum created on an artificial island, with a permanent exhibition exploring the history of the nature reserve, the aquatic world and issues of sustainability and protection. Heading off in the opposite direction from Schengen, a path under the village bridge leads to a former plaster mining site – now the Stromberg nature reserve. Like Haff Réimech, Stromberg is also home to a broad range of protected plant species and rich wildlife, complete with a 4.5-kilometre educational nature path. Slightly further afield, in the hills above the village, the ‘Kuebendellchen’ Nature Reserve is no less impressive, with more than 70 bird species and numerous rare butterflies, indigenous to the region. Otherwise, for those with a yen for the beach, every year in spring and summer, the extensive ponds and large beach of ‘Baggerweieren’ in Remerschen are a great spot to sunbathe or simply cool down. Children can enjoy splashing around in the ample swimming area whilst more active adults can take advantage of three beach volleyball courts and a petanque court.

Walks, wines and hot springs In the nearby village of Remich – known as the ‘Pearl of the Moselle’, the ‘Espla-

nade’ is the place for a stroll and a drink. The three-kilometre-long promenade, lined with cherry and birch trees and terrace cafes, runs alongside the banks of the Moselle, and is where locals and visitors alike come for a glass of local wine or for a boat cruise. There’s also mini golf and a heated open-air swimming pool.

Schengen is a wine-lover’s paradise. At the Markushaischen wine-making co-operative estate, visitors can enjoy wine tastings, romantic dinners and vineyard walks, whilst every year on the third Sunday in October, the traditional ‘Hunnefeier’ takes place in Schengen. The festival marks the end of the annual grape harvest and visitors flock to enjoy more than 100 stalls, international street artists, musical entertainment, pony riding, local and regional cuisine, local wine tastings, crémants and ‘Fiederwäissen’ – the traditional local brew.

Tourist information from a shark Visitors to Schengen won’t help but notice the eye-catching tourist information office on the architect-designed pontoon on the Moselle, in the shape of a shark. Complete with a souvenir shop, the tourist office is a great starting point for a visit to the area and staff can offer advice on itineraries as well as providing bike rental.,

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  17

Koetschette - Place de jeux.

Slow down and admire western Luxembourg TEXT: KATE HARVEY  |  PHOTOS: RAMBROUCH

Look closely among the plains, forested plateaus, lakes and rivers of western Luxembourg, and you’ll discover the commune of Rambrouch just a few short kilometres from the Belgian border. Thanks to a long tradition of openness and its gorgeous natural setting, it is the ideal stop-off for walkers, hikers and cyclists, at the heart of Europe.

Soak up your surroundings Travellers will know that the best way to experience a new place is to immerse yourself wholly and devotedly, without rushing from one place to the next. Rambrouch, at the heart of the expansive Redange region of Luxembourg is a commune that encourages visitors to do exactly that. 18  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

“Life here is very much about spending time in nature,” explains Antoine Rodesch, the mayor of Rambrouch; “but also enjoying local gastronomy and regional produce.” Travellers can have an authentic experience, with help from friendly communities across Arsdorf, Bigonville, Folschette and Perlé. Characterised by its rural lifestyle, Rambrouch remains perfectly preserved, and beautifully honest.

Pursuits in the great outdoors The commune fully advocates the use of transport that is less polluting, and is geared up for exploration by bike or foot. Setting off from Rambrouch for a hike through the wooded Rennebach valley is one of the best things you can do in the

open air; or ramble over the hilltops and reward yourself with a panoramic view from the Napoléonsgaart. There are a number of circular hikes scattered across Rambrouch, each of which showcasing all of what western Luxembourg has to offer. “You could say that the locals are deeply connected to their surroundings,” explains Rodesch. The cross-border hiking trails through nearby villages such as Holtz, Martelange and Rombach-Martelange can be adapted according to level and ability.

Cyclists, rejoice Cycling enthusiasts will love the marked trails around the villages of Koetschette, Hostert and Rambrouch. “There’s some-

Discover Benelux  |  Special Guide  |  Discover Luxembourg

thing for everyone: some paths require a good fitness level, and others are ideal for a family bike ride,” explains Rodesch. Cyclists can explore hundreds of kilometres far away from the hum of traffic, and conclude a long day’s riding with some local cuisine in one of the nearby villages. The Ardoisières cycle path is something of a legend in these parts, and takes cyclists on a historical journey of the former slate villages near the Belgian border. If you’re looking for something even more adventurous, Rambrouch is home to its very own 35-kilometre mountain bike trail, with a series of climbs and descents through hills and deep river valleys.

Moulin de Bigonville.

At the heart of a borderless Europe Despite its rural location, everything about this close-knit settlement is wholly international. “Luxembourg played an important part in rebuilding the continent after the Second World War, by welcoming visitors with open arms. This is part of our everyday life in Rambrouch,” says Rodesch. Its rich and lively community spirit is palpable, with various groups for culture, nature, music, sport and music, among others. Keep an eye out for its local festivals, that are famous for serving up typical Luxembourgish cuisine, beer and wine, also influenced by their Belgian, French and German neighbours close by.

Haut-Martelange Koll an Aktioun.

Dramatic natural surroundings Rambrouch is surrounded by wide expanses of forest, skirted by the likes of the river Koulbich flowing south to the Belgian border. Amid the rustic villages around every corner, there are many spots that remain untouched, making them ideal for a romantic or family excursion. Drive 48 kilometres outside of Luxembourg City and you’ll reach this quaint commune in no time. This picturesque corner of western Luxembourg is rich in culture, nature and friendly faces – and located ideally at the centre of Europe.

Fierkelsmaart 2019

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  19

Discover Benelux  |  Special Guide  |  Discover Luxembourg

Marion Zovilé-Braquet.

The best of town and country life TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: CONTERN

Located only ten kilometres from Luxembourg City, the peaceful commune of Contern offers all the benefits of country living within easy reach of the capital. As well as being home to beautiful forests and inspiring walking and cycling routes, Contern is well-connected in terms of trains and the airport, making it the perfect location for commuters. There are many thriving businesses in the area, who are united in their desire to protect the environment. “We have a green committee, and regularly embark on various initiatives including the planting of trees and working with young people in schools on anti-waste projects,” explains Marion Zovilé-Braquet, mayor of Contern. “We want to ensure we preserve this beautiful countryside.”

place on the weekend of 18 July. More than 100 sale stands can be found at the festival, offering collectors the chance to pick up a wide range of new and used comics, not to mention original drawings, posters, figurines and other rarities. “It’s wonderful to see so many people arrive with their backpack, ready to add to their collection,” smiles Marion. The festival also welcomes around 60 different authors. “They come from France, Belgium, Germany and even further afield,” adds Jean-Claude Muller, president of the festival.

International Comic Festival

Far more than just a literary festival, the event also features food and drink stalls run by local associations and plenty of children’s entertainment. This creates a festive atmosphere, which combines the appeal of a flea market with the community spirit of a folk festival.

As well as being known for its rural charm, Contern is most famous for its International Comic Festival, which this year will take

Community spirit is strong in Contern: “It’s like a village where everyone knows every-

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one,” enthuses Jean-Claude, whose family has lived in the area for six generations. “We love to come together as a community.”

Award-winning local produce In addition to the well-known Comic Festival, Contern is famous for their local, award-winning productions. In the villages of the Community of Contern you find several opportunities for local shopping. From brandies and liqueurs to farm fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and the biggest eggs in the world, coming from the only Luxembourgish ostrich-farm, everyone can find seasonal gourmet delights from the region. Talking of gourmet delights, another popular event in Contern is the annual celebration of local produce, which takes place every September. “We have so many wonderful local products,” concludes the mayor.

Witness human history transformed by nature TEXT: KATE HARVEY  |  PHOTOS: RUMELANGE

Seated on the French border, the town of Rumelange in southern Luxembourg plays a major role in the region’s industrial history. Here in the Minett region, nature and human life coexist beautifully, and the marks of its former mining past have in fact carved a picturesque space in the surroundings. Now, with a thriving community and endless leisure activities, it continues to welcome visitors from all over.

Dig deep into its geological origins Since the 19th century, Rumelange has welcomed workers and industrialists from all corners of Europe, eager to extract iron ore from the belly of the earth. Following the closure of its open cast mines during the 1970s, the landscape was left scarred by the remains of human activity. It didn’t 22  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

take long, however, for nature to repair the wounds and pick up where humans left off; making way for a thick forested landscape in the surrounding Kayl Valley.

Unearth the mining history of Luxembourg Rumelange is also home to the National Mining Museum of Luxembourg, where you can opt for a guided tour of the industry that formed the backbone of the Red Rocks community. The on-site exhibition allows visitors to go deep down into the mine to see tools and machinery, alongside a presentation of the fossils and minerals found underground. Departing three times a day, visitors can embark on a mine train and descend into the depths of Rumelange’s past. Audio

guides are available in German, French, English and Dutch.

Industry and nature lovers unite Over time, the natural landscapes around the town have become increasingly protected, and are home to significant bird and wildlife populations. Indeed, it is even possible to retrace the geological past of the Lorraine basin, formed over 170 million years ago during the Triassic and Jurassic eras. The surprising harmony between nature and industry makes Rumelange a popular destination for walking, hiking and biking, among locals and tourists alike.

Challenge yourself in the great outdoors The nine-and-a-half-kilometre route around Rumelange, for example, will take

Discover Benelux  |  Special Guide  |  Discover Luxembourg

you on a walking tour of the mining terrain. Venture through the lime kilns of the Walert quarry, and then into the shade of the Eechels forest nearby as you pass along the French border. Alternatively, get to know the town a little better and take a ten-kilometre route around the periphery, towards hills such as Perschesbierg and Lannebierg, which were formed by mining activity. For panoramic views across the Red Rocks region, head up to the Parc Municipal, in which you’ll also find the commune’s football stadium and tennis courts.

Leisure activities in a postcard setting Luxembourg is a country of many faces, and Rumelange is the perfect example of that. Over the years, it has welcomed

settlers from the world over, and has a population with communities from over 70 different nations. “Our mining legacy has meant that we are an active and welcoming community,” explains the mayor of Rumelange, Henri Haine. Rumelange is home to a series of sport and leisure clubs: football, tennis, petanque, gymnastics, archery, boxing – there’s even a skatepark and clay shooting facility. You need only walk a short distance along the main street to witness the diverse architecture established by former mining families. The Kursaal cinema, for example, is in fact also the oldest of its kind in the whole of Luxembourg, and was the only building on the road to have

survived through the Second World War. It has been renovated with high-tech equipment and spacious armchairs to sit back in and relax.

Excellent transport links Rumelange is enviably located at the crossroads of Europe. Approximately 25 kilometres from Luxembourg City, visitors can easily pass through from France and Germany thanks to its proximity to major road links. You can also catch a train from Rumelange to various destinations, or even rent a bicycle from the Vël’Ok stations dotted around the region and explore this historic landscape for yourself.,

Cultural Centre.

National Mining Museum of Luxembourg.

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Located in south-western Luxembourg, within the canton of Esch-sur-Alzette, the commune of Mondercange may be found in one of the oldest parts of Luxembourg, yet it is bursting with modernity and innovative new projects, not to mention the exciting news that Esch-sur-Alzette will become European Capital of Culture in 2022.

Brimming with history Given its prime position on the borders of the Grand Duchy and Lorraine, Mondercange has lived a long and eventful past. In 1989, the remains of a large Roman estate were discovered, proving a village existed here all the way back in the Gallo-Roman era. By 1804, the town of Mondercange counted 80 houses, while nearby Bergem counted 20 and Pontpierre and Foetz 24  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

21. Although the 19th century and the rise of the steel industry massively transformed the neighbouring municipalities, Mondercange remained dominated by agriculture. It was only in the 1980s that Mondercange experienced a real demographic eruption – going from 4,000 inhabitants in 1983 to 7,000 today.

Population growth According to various projections, Mondercange can expect to have a population of around 8,500 inhabitants within ten years. In light of this, the municipality now has a clear vision of its situation and has established a map to support the development of Mondercange until the year 2030.

Development and regeneration There are many exciting upcoming projects in Mondercange, including the

construction of a new workshop for the town’s technical services. The current workshops are located in the centre of Mondercange and date from the early 1980s, while the future municipal workshop will be located in the ‘op Werbett’ natural area. The new workshop will meet the latest energy standards and will be built to last many years. It will be perfectly integrat-

Discover Benelux  |  Special Guide  |  Discover Luxembourg

ed into its natural environment, while the nearby construction of an ecological carpark with 80 spaces, a playground with benches and a park for e-bikes will contribute to the regeneration of the whole ‘Monnerecher Kopp’ district.

Climate commitment Sustainability is always a priority here, and the municipality of Mondercange signed a climate commitment contract with the Luxembourg State in July 2013, which empowers the municipal administration to take on a pioneering role when it comes to energy and climate issues. With model insulation and energy from renewable sources, the municipal workshops project meets all the required ecological criteria of quality and sustainability.

Sustainable mobility Sustainable mobility is also a major focus for Mondercange, and the municipality has been keen to embrace the government’s MODU 2.0 sustainable mobility strategy. There are many important procedures already underway, including re-designs that will reduce traffic and improve the quality of life for local residents.

Outdoor spaces Other exciting projects include the revitalisation of Molter park, with plans to build an intergenerational meeting place including spaces dedicated to beach

volleyball, football, a bowling alley, playgrounds and much more.

European Capital of Culture 2022 The future looks bright for Mondercange and the Esch-sur-Alzette region. In fact, in 2022, Esch-sur-Alzette will carry the prestigious European Capital of Culture (ECoC) title.

A cultural melting pot The region involved in ECoC 2022 includes the ProSud alliance (11 municipalities in Luxembourg), as well as the bordering French CCPHVA (Communité de communes du Pays Haut Val d’Alzette). As a

Capital of Culture, one of the key subjects Esch-sur-Alzette aims to highlight is the benefits of European integration. After all, it is here, in Europe’s former industrial heartland, where important foundations were once laid for European integration, and that today, over 120 different nationalities live in close proximity. In this diverse, modern and pioneering area, we get a glimpse of how Europe could look in the future.

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  25

Discover Benelux  |  Special Guide  |  Discover Luxembourg

Grevenmacher: wine, culture and history TEXT: SHANNA MCGOLDRICK  |  PHOTOS: CHRISTOPHE WEILAND

Perched on the bank of the Moselle river, near the Luxembourg-Germany border, Grevenmacher offers the best of both town and country living. Surrounded by vineyards and blessed with a light that has attracted many a painter over the years, this commune embodies the openhearted, welcoming spirit of the Moselle region. Grevenmacher is a town that prides itself on its quality of life, while embracing the future. Although famous for its annual Grape and Wine Festival, which culminates with the crowning of a new ‘Wine Queen’ every September, Grevenmacher also has plenty to offer history-lovers and culture buffs. Its

medieval architecture is best explored by wandering through the old-town quarter on foot, following the town’s mapped-out ‘cultural walk’ to take in the sights and soak up its ancient heritage. For a more exotic experience, head to the tropical indoor Butterfly Garden, which is home to hundreds of butterflies, birds and insects. While the streets are literally lined with lavender in a nod to Burgomaster Léon Gloden’s years spent studying in the French region of Provence, Grevenmacher is decidedly international. Over 40 per cent of the town’s 4,942 inhabitants come from outside Luxembourg, and as a result, the culinary scene is varied, offering everything from

traditional local fare to Nepalese cooking. As Gloden says, “When you live in Grevenmacher, you never need to leave!” Grevenmacher has proven adept at championing and preserving its rich cultural heritage, but it remains committed to moving with the times. Construction will begin this year on a lavish new cultural centre set to open in 2023, and the town is taking a workable approach to sustainability that ranges from environmentallyfriendly housing solutions to the facilitation of plastic-free public events. It’s an equilibrium that epitomises the ‘Mosseler way of life’.

Restaurant Centser Roud Haus: cooking with passion TEXT: STEPHANIE UWALAKA  |  PHOTO: RESTAURANT CENTSER ROUD HAUS

To the east of Luxembourg sits Restaurant Centser Roud Haus, where fresh, regional ingredients are prepared and presented in an innovative yet gastronomic way, under the direction of head chef Jacques Schoumacker. The cuisine the restaurant produces is a veritable mix of influences from all over the world, with an emphasis on Luxembourgish, French and German cuisine. Over the years, it has evolved from originally being a café 20 years ago, to then being a brasserie and eventually becoming a restaurant, more recently. The restaurant has weekly à la carte menus, as well as seasonal and special menus for events during the year, such as the recent Valentine’s day menu, which featured six decadent courses, and the winter hot plate menu, where you have your choice of steak cooked right 26  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

in front of you. Whilst the restaurant offers a range of menus for guests, it also has a gastronomic menu served solely on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings which changes monthly, for those who wish to taste the head chef’s new creations and indulge in seven courses: though there is also the choice for less courses. It aims to create a good rapport with customers, to delight them with what is on the menu and to really show them the high standard of food that Luxembourg has to offer; with the restaurant’s warm, friendly and welcoming ambiance allowing customers to fully enjoy their culinary experience. Looking to the future, it is adding a banqueting room and terrace to allow for private bookings at the restaurant, mostly for business groups, weddings and large family parties to be booked, with more room and privacy ensured for guests. A classic

restaurant setting with delicious inventive food cooked with dedication is what defines Centser Roud Haus, and makes it stand out within the Luxembourg culinary scene.

Jacques Schoumacker.

Discover Benelux  |  Special Guide  |  Discover Luxembourg

A one-of-a-kind culinary journey TEXT: KATE HARVEY  |  PHOTOS: DINNER HOPPING

Some of the most romantic sights of a city are best enjoyed over a gorgeous meal. That’s why the culinary experience Dinner Hopping has combined the two; with a dinner tour of Luxembourg’s finest restaurants in its original American school bus. Whether you opt for a lunchtime of sightseeing, or an evening of candlelit dining with live entertainment, you’ll leave with fond memories of the Grand Duchy.

Sit back and relax... while dinner is served The Dinner Hopping craze has arrived in the picturesque city of Luxembourg, and this ‘restaurant on wheels’ is the perfect way to enjoy the tastes of a city in just a few hours. The concept is simple. Guests are welcomed with complimentary drinks from the charming Dinner Hopping staff, and as soon as the bus departs, the fun begins. You’ll make three extended stops around Luxembourg City while your

starter, main and dessert are brought on board by the restaurant’s own waiters. You’ll see the most beautiful streets of Luxembourg City and its surrounding areas in a truly extraordinary way.

Every first Friday of the month, Dinner Hopping also offers a series of Special Tours. Usually revolving around a certain theme of drink tasting, they will host a bespoke gin tasting session on 5 June 2020.

Dishes from all over the world

The bus seats a maximum of 28 people, where you can eat alongside couples and groups of all ages in an ambient atmosphere. Make the trip what you will: romantic, fun, or even a way to make new friends as you try a new dish at every stop.

Dinner Hopping partners with some of the best chefs in the city to serve up something different. Get inspired by an American style menu with barbecue and Cajun spice, exotic Asian cuisine, and even a French gourmet menu curated by popular Luxembourg chef, Jan Schneidewind. The feeling of enjoying your meal at the heart of a picturesque city – course by course, restaurant by restaurant – is something really special.

A lively atmosphere on board Not only does Dinner Hopping give you a taste of Luxembourg’s culinary delights, but you’ll be kept company by a live entertainer. Depending on the tour you book, you might have a magician or a singer come along for the ride.

Have the bus to yourselves Looking for a fun after-work alternative, or a way to celebrate a birthday or corporate event? The school bus can also be booked privately for groups of at least 15 people. Book your table online, where you’ll also find the calendar with the upcoming tour dates. Facebook: Instagram:

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  27

Discover Benelux  |  Special Guide  |  Discover Luxembourg Fête du Genêt.

Château de Wiltz. Photo: Hervé Montaigu

Festival de Wiltz



Where wilderness meets cultural reverie TEXT: COLETTE DAVIDSON  |  PHOTOS: WILTZ/HERVÉ MONTAIGU

From nature walks and camping to castles and festivals, the town of Wiltz in the north of Luxembourg is a treasure trove of natural beauty, recreation and culture. Boasting lush highlands and scenic valleys, Luxembourg’s Ardennes region is the perfect place to experience natural beauty. And nestled in the heart of the Ardennes is Wiltz, a town of over 7,000 people that offers not just access to natural treasures, but cultural gems, as well. One of the town’s major draws is its famed castle, which plays host to a leather tanning museum, the Battle of the Bulge Museum and the National Museum of Brewing. Inside, sits one of the smallest micro-brasseries in the world. But Wiltz is perhaps best known and loved for its seasonal festivals, which beckon visitors from the surrounding region as well as further afield. Each year since 1949 on Pentecost Monday, the 28  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

town celebrates Geenzefest in honour of broom, a bright yellow flower that colours the hillsides of the country’s northern Oesling region. During the folkloric festival, the town of Wiltz is decorated with bright flowers, while a festival queen is named in its honour. Amateur football matches are held throughout the weekend, as are a photography exhibit, concerts and children’s activities. The festival culminates with an illustrious parade, circling downwards to the Wiltz Castle. While Geenzefest may be Wiltz’ most well-known festival, the town also celebrates the Wiltz Festival each summer, where the town’s amphitheatre welcomes up to 1,200 guests to enjoy concerts, theatre and artistic offerings. Rounding out the town’s festival season is La Nuit des Lampions, a lanternlighting festival that sees outdoor music, light installations and street events.

With so many cultural offerings, it might be easy to overlook Wiltz’s natural wonders. But its location near the Haute-Sûre’s natural reserve and near the lake make it the perfect place for lovers of the outdoors. Visitors come from around the country as well as nearby Belgium, France and the Netherlands for hiking, swimming, camping, mountain biking and indoor mini-golf, plus the skate and bike park. With such a diverse offering, visitors to Wiltz can find something that strikes their fancy, whether indoors or out. “Nature and culture are the two most important elements here in Wiltz,” says Aleksandra Kowalska, project manager for Tourist Info Wiltz. “Sports and relaxation, but also cultural activities.”


The ultimate brewery, distillery and winery guide Belgium is known throughout the world for its beer, but wine grapes have grown on Belgian soil since the early Middle Ages, and the country also produces an array of other interesting alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. In the following pages, we raise a glass to some of the finest producers of wine, beer and spirits in Flanders. PHOTOS: VISIT FLANDERS

Photo: Pieter D’Hoop

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Discover Benelux  |  A Taste of Flanders  |  Brewery, Distillery & Winemaker Guide

Belgium may be a country that is small in size, but it offers a superb range in beer, wines and spirits. For example, you’ll find over 2,000 unique beers here. From abbey beer, geuze, lambic, fruit beer, old red and brown ale and Trappist, there really is something to suit all tastes. One event not to be missed is the Belgian Beer Weekend, which is dedicated entirely to the country’s national beverage. Held in the Grote Markt (Grand-Place) in Brussels, it sees numerous small, midsized and large Belgian breweries present their products. The next edition will take place between 4 to 6 September. In the meantime, check out our guide to some of the country’s best drinks companies. From large family-owned breweries to innovative spirit manufacturers, not to mention the winemaker putting Belgian wine on the world map, there is plenty to make your mouth water.

Belgian Beer Weekend. Photo: Milo Profi

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  31

Innovation and a case of déjà brew TEXT: CHÉRINE KOUBAT  |  PHOTOS: CLIFFORD LUCAS

The eponymous, flagship beer of the Bourgogne des Flandres brewery is a special one. Despite being a century old, this local favourite, now a true classic, continues to surprise with its tangy taste and blend of two unique brewing techniques. True to the spirit of innovation that was at the very heart of its creation, the brewery is back where it all began, with an intoxicatingly playful approach to beer making.

A beer with nine lives “It is one of only two breweries left in Bruges today,” explains brand manager Matthias Deckers, “though the city was home to over 30 active breweries at one point.” Bourgogne des Flandres may seem like a relative newcomer, but 32  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

its story dates back to a farm-brewery in Loppem in 1765. The brewery only opened its doors, under a different name, in Bruges in the 1800s, and its famed concoction was created just before World War I. Despite an eventful journey and the closure of the brewery, the beer lived on, and eventually ended up in the hands of the oldest lambic brewery in the world, Timmermans. “It is brewed in keeping with ancient Flemish traditions,” explains Deckers. “It is a mix of two different styles of beers. The Bruinen Os is a top-fermented dark beer which is brewed on site and blended with lambic from Timmermans, a beer aged in wooden barrels for a year.” The result is a reddish-brown drink with a

complex flavour and a sour mouthfeel. According to Deckers, “it is best savoured with a cheese platter and is the ideal drink for an aperitif.”

Old techniques, new haunt It has been dubbed the most romantic brewery in the world, and it’s easy to see why. Set in the centre of the medieval city, a mere 80 metres from the belfry, it is housed in a historic brick building complete with a modern and characterful glass walkway. Post-visit tastings are held at the bar, which is open from 11 am in a bid to quench the thirst of passers by, and it boasts a beautiful terrace overlooking the canals. The loft, where the Bruinen Os beer is currently brewed, exudes malty and hoppy aromas.

Discover Benelux  |  A Taste of Flanders  |  Brewery, Distillery & Winemaker Guide

The space has a cool, trendy feel, combining an eye-catching mix of brewing apparatus and warm, playful touches. The staff wear minimalist graphic black T-shirts stating ‘brew crew’; funny slogans, like ‘save water, drink beer’ are peppered around the interactive tour, and a birds-eye view of foamy, fermenting wort in an open cooling basin comes with a warning: ‘Beware the power of yeast’. The visitor-friendly approach is palpable throughout, and a sense of pride permeates each visit. The informative, interactive tour allows visitors to meet the brewer in the loft, tap a beer digitally and take selfies that can be printed on a bottle to take home.

The new frontier The same spirit pervades the production side. Young master brewer Thomas Vandelanotte, born and bred in Bruges, is the man behind the brewery’s adventurous production. A series of ephemeral beers, called Brewer’s Playground, allows him to let loose while exploring new techniques and processes. His creations, all named after songs, are exclusively available at the brewery for a period of three months. Kilning in the Name included oats Vandelanotte

kilned himself in the visitor centre kitchen. Love potion N4 was a floral blend of chamomile, mistletoe and violets with a kick of jalapeño and habanero, while Orange Crush, with rosemary and fresh blood oranges, was a fruity and vibrant session IPA. Honing his skills and feeding consumers’ appetite for novelty in one go, Vandelanotte is brimming with ideas. “Today, there are no real limitations. Even recycling a Christmas tree in a creative way is an option,” he enthuses. The sky’s the limit.

Visit Information Visitors can choose to visit the brewery on their own or with a guide. All texts are available in Dutch, French, English and German. Audio guides are also available in Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese and Russian. Bourgogne des Flandres has a lift, making the brewery and bar easy to access for wheelchair users and people with reduced mobility.

Matthias Deckers.

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Discover Benelux  |  A Taste of Flanders  |  Brewery, Distillery & Winemaker Guide

Tradition meets sustainable innovation at Brewery Huyghe TEXT: MAYA WITTERS  |  PHOTOS: HUYGHE

Fourth-generation family brewery Huyghe, producer of the popular Delirium beer, boasts a long and successful brewing history. Now, the current generation has its eyes firmly on the future, with continuous innovation and greener brewing at the forefront of the company’s policies. “We want to be the most sustainable brewery in Belgium.” Huyghe is one of Belgium’s largest family-owned breweries, brewing a whopping 250,000 hectolitres of beer in 2019 alone. The most famous among its brands is the distinctive Delirium beer, with its ceramic bottles and pink elephant mascot, but the brewery is also responsible for delicious creations such as Averbode, La Guillotine, St Idesbald, Floris, Artevelde and the Fairtrade and organic Mongozo beers.

Family traditions on an international scale Despite the scale the brewery operates on – it exports to more than 100 countries – the family aspect is still really important, explains global sales manager Benedikt Debeuckelaere. “We treat each other, 34  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

as well as our clients, as family, here at Huyghe. And despite our size, we have a flexibility that major corporations on the market don’t have. For example, we can adapt the alcohol percentage in our recipes for foreign markets if required, allowing us access to more territories.” “At the same time, quality is at the forefront of all our operations, and so the brewery liberally invests in technical innovations, but also in people, too. Our commercial team has more than doubled in size in the past five years, allowing us to implement our Belgian brewing quality in countries all over the world.”

to be Belgium’s most sustainable brewery – a metric that is hard to quantify, but we have designed our own guidelines to reduce the use of water and the output of carbon dioxide. We think it’s incredibly important to invest in the future and to think in the long term. After all, our fifth-generation brewer is ready in the wings to continue the family business – we want to set him up for success, and do our part to keep our world liveable,” Debeuckelaere concludes.

Sustainable brewing Innovation is another major aspect of Huyghe’s operations. “We mostly work within the scope of our major beer brands, but we also test new recipes,” attests Debeuckelaere. “For example, we have a craft beer project where we release a new flavour on the market every three months and assess its performance.” “Our most important innovations, however, are to do with sustainability. We aim

For more information, visit:

Discover Benelux  |  A Taste of Flanders  |  Brewery, Distillery & Winemaker Guide


Distilling spirits for over 135 years, the Ghent based company P. Bruggeman Distillery has a rich history in developing and distributing both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. “What started as a local family business is now part of a worldwide group, active in several spirits markets all over the world,” explains general manager Lieven Stevens. It all started in 1884, when Pieter Bruggeman opened a wine and liquor store in the old harbour area of Ghent and his daughter married the son of a brewer. The two companies merged and started to produce jenevers, amongst many other distillery products. “Bruggeman had become the leading jenever producer in Belgium, with brands like Peterman, Smeets and Hertekamp. These ‘local heroes’ are still our pride today,” continues Stevens with a smile.

From local to international In 2009, Bruggeman Distillery became a subsidiary of the independent French

spirits Group La Martiniquaise, one of the leaders in France and positioned within the Top Ten international spirits groups with a large portfolio of international brands. Stevens: “It gave us the opportunity to grow and to expand our range with other spirits and at the same time, we could assure that pure Belgian brands, like Peterman, Smeets and Hertekamp, kept their Belgian identity.” Thanks to that merger, Bruggeman became the distributor of Label 5 whisky, Poliakov vodka, Saint James rum and Porto Cruz. Shortly after that, the company started its expansion into the Netherlands with the acquisition of Inspirits Premium Drinks, known for brands such as Olifant jenever and Dujardin Vieux, and as distributor of the Sonnema brand. Today, the company is also market leader in the category of festive drinks for children via the acquisition of Kidibul in 2019, and continues to expand its activities with the launch of a first beer: Rendez-Vous. “This perfectly fits our strategy to become

an important player in the segment of festive drinks,” says Stevens. “We Belgians like to come together, to party, to be ‘in good spirits’. That’s why it is our passion to create drinks that add to that experience,” says Stevens. “Not just jenevers, even though they are the cornerstone of our company, but all kinds of festive drinks and also nonalcoholic drinks. It is about the authenticity of the drink, which is what makes them great. And because we are part of La Martiniquaise, we can share all of that not just here in Ghent, but across the Benelux and even beyond.”

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  35

Discover Benelux  |  A Taste of Flanders  |  Brewery, Distillery & Winemaker Guide

Martha: modern beer with historical roots TEXT: MAYA WITTERS  |  PHOTOS: THE BREW SOCIETY

The Brew Society was founded in 2005 as a contract brewery, creating beers on demand. Today the company brews beers for clients all over the world, as well as its own brand: Martha. “We wanted to make something that we could be proud of.” “We can create beers in all sorts of styles for our clients,” explains sales director Danny Dieussaert. “We start from their preferences to work out a recipe. Depending on the style of beer, a complete brewing cycle will take between four and six weeks. Throughout the years, many creations have come out of our kettles.”

The decision to start brewing its own beer was inspired by huge demand, attests Dieussaert. “Many asked us why we didn’t brew our own beer. We agreed it was time to use our experience to create something special that we can be proud of.” The result is Martha, available in three varieties: Sexy Blond, a highly fermented, eight per cent vol. blond beer; Martha Guilty Pleasure, eight per cent vol. cherry beer with a mild sour hinge; and Martha Brown Eyes, a 12 per cent vol. strong quadruple-style beer. The Brew Society aims to launch Martha internationally and hopes to become a modern

staple next to Belgium’s many traditional beers. “We were inspired by a historical figure from our village Heule: a farmer called Martha, who lived in the twenties and brewed her own beers,” Dieussaert explains. “Whenever a bar starts selling Martha, we see their order numbers rise quickly: people who try it, really love our beer. We look forward to furthering Martha’s legacy all over the world.” Martha will be available at Colruyt supermarkets from April. Learn more at:

Celebrating 25 years of Belgian sparkling wine TEXT: MAYA WITTERS  |  PHOTO: LUK COLLET

In 1994, Paul Vleminckx decided to explore uncharted territory: he set out to create Belgium’s first sparkling wine, produced following traditional Champagne methods. 25 years later, Chardonnay Meerdael is a local staple in restaurants and on supermarket shelves. “Once people taste our wine, they all want to buy it.” “There’s been a real surge in Belgian winemaking. When I started, there were hardly any vineyards,” attests Vleminckx. “Some people Paul Vleminckx.

think it’s because of climate change, but there are simply more grape varieties today that can withstand the cooler climate.” Vleminckx now uses his experience to support new local wine makers through the non-profit organisation Wines of Belgium. “We educate winemakers and use our collective power to regulate the industry and promote our products.” Vleminckx’ decision to turn his passion into a career made him a trailblazer in Belgium – not always an easy path. “People were

incredulous at first: they wouldn’t even sample our wine at market stalls,” he explains. “We really had to educate the public. But slowly our reputation started to grow, and today our sparkling wines have won many awards and are served at top-end local restaurants.” Chardonnay Meerdael also offers vineyard tours for groups, which take around two hours and include insights into the production process as well as a tasting session. “We mostly give guided tours from May to September, when the weather is a little nicer. A lot of our sales come from these tours, because once people try our wine, they all want to buy it,” concludes Vleminckx. Chardonnay Meerdael is available in Delhaize supermarkets. To book a vineyard tour, visit :

36  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020


All spotlights on Rotterdam Cutting-edge architecture, world-class museums and an array of superb restaurants are just a few of the reasons why we love Rotterdam. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: NBTC

38  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

Discover Benelux  |  City Special  |  All Spotlights on Rotterdam

A rising star Rotterdam is a paradise for architecture aficionados. From the iconic Rotterdam Cube Houses to the colossal Maastoren (165 metres high), the city is an ode to design innovation. Another unmissable presence on the city skyline is the Euromast tower (185 metres high), from which there are spectacular views. Meanwhile, The Kunsthal museum, which was designed by the architect Rem Koolhaas, is a symbol of modern architecture and boasts a surface area of 3,300 square metres. Aside from its architectural kudos, the museum has a reputation as one of the best places to see experimental art, photography and design exhibitions in the Netherlands.

The precious port When you think of Rotterdam, its famous port springs to mind. With the Maas River flowing through the city, many of the key attractions are indeed related to water. An emblem of the city’s close ties with the sea is the glorious SS Rotterdam, which is the biggest passenger ship ever built on Dutch soil. Known as the city’s ‘Grande Dame’, it now houses a hotel and popular bar and you can even take a tour.

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  39

Pieces modelled after the oldest chess set dating from around 1000AD which was found in Scotland.

Breaking records with an army of 30,000 chess men TEXT AND PHOTOS: MYRIAM DIJCK

Tucked away in a house in one of Rotterdam’s most iconic neighbourhoods, is a small but intriguing museum, the Chess Men Museum. The unusual, polygonal shape of the Cube House reflects the unusual collection that it holds: thousands of chess men lined up on table tops, in display cabinets and on shelves all across the walls. Upon entering the Chess Men Museum, it is hard to know where to look, as it seems like every square inch of the space is claimed by a chess set, all neatly lined-up in battle formation. “We’ve had 40  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

to add shelves to the display cabinets. They normally only have four layers, but we doubled that because our collection has grown so much over the years,” says founder Ridder Dijkshoorn.

World record The museum currently counts 928 unique sets; nearly 30,000 individual pieces. A record number, as Dijkshoorn explains: “We are in the process of getting our collection added to the Guinness Book of World Records. The only issue is that they require every set to be complete, including the original chessboard, which we don’t have in the majority of cases.”

There is an impressive range of sets on display, including depictions of famous historical battles, sets with fictional characters from fairytales and pieces shaped like abstract art. “We have 19th-century hand-carved sets made from ivory as well as modern sets based on comic books and television series such as Lucky Luke, Snoopy, The Simpsons and even South Park,” says Dijkshoorn.

Competition The chess pieces hail from all over the world and are made from all imaginable materials, from wood to ivory, plastic, metal, glass, fabric and more. On top of

Discover Benelux  |  City Special  |  All Spotlights on Rotterdam

that, Dijkshoorn also has an impressive collection of handmade sets. Every year, he holds a competition for (amateur) designers to create their own set. The winner from 2019, which was announced on 1 January, was a set made from clay featuring an exotic-looking zeal of zebras against a tower of giraffes. Another striking entry, which came third, was Student chess, completely made out of beer-bottle caps. The entries for the 2020 competition will be revealed on 7 March (Museum Night 010) and visitors can vote on their favourite set for the rest of the year.

A chess set based on the Harry Potter movie.

The 3D chess set from Star Trek that was made popular by The Big Bang Theory.

Unfamiliar Ironically, Dijkshoorn is not much of a chess player himself. “I find the game fascinating, but I don’t really play.” Regardless, there are always a few sets at the museum that are ready to be played. “Because of the popularity of the standard Staunton chess set, many regular players actually dislike playing with unusual chess sets: they don’t recognise which piece is what. It’s the amateurs who are more open to playing with some of our unfamiliar sets.” The Chess Men Museum is open daily from 11 in the morning to five in the afternoon, and admission is two euros for adults and one euro for children (RotterdamPas and Museumjaarkaart holders go free).

The Chess Men Museum is inside one of the iconic Rotterdam Cube Houses. Photo: Linda Zoon

A most unusual find The most unusual set in the whole of the museum is a small, handmade set from cork. The delicate pieces are somewhat crude and visibly held together with glue. “What makes this set so unusual is its story,” starts Ridder Dijskhoorn of the Chess Men Museum in Rotterdam. “It was made by a patient in a psychiatric hospital in The Hague, where I worked as an assistant in the 1970s. When I heard it was for sale, I immediately wanted to

buy it, only to find it was already gone by the time I had the money.” Only nearly 30 years later, when Dijkshoorn bought a dozen sets from a late collector called Mr Glotzbach, did he find himself to be the owner of the set. “I recognised it immediately. Plus, in his documentation he referred to the hospital as the place where he bought it, so this is that same set I wanted to buy all those years ago.” The handmade set from cork that took Dijkshoorn 30 years to obtain.

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  41

Discover Benelux  |  City Special  |  All Spotlights on Rotterdam

Gourmet refinement in iconic surroundings TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK  |  PHOTOS: THE HARBOUR CLUB

Visiting The Harbour Club means stepping into a world of unparalleled culinary refinement effortlessly paired with a generous dash of glamour and plenty of international allure. This year, the Rotterdam-based restaurant is raising a glass to a decade of delighting the senses with everything from its exceptional location to its tempting dishes. Housed in a monumental villa at the city’s lush Euromast Park, The Harbour Club’s address alone couldn’t have been more spectacular. From its exquisite terrace, where tables are carefully set with white linens and circular booths add to the convivial atmosphere, diners can revel in the iconic surroundings while enjoying a superb level of hospitality and exceptionally prepared cuisine. But the magic doesn’t end there. Inside, the first thing to capture one’s attention is the large, swanky bar decked out with a cheeky touch of graffiti 42  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

and graced by a hovering golden shark. It’s the ultimate place to kick off an unforgettable evening with great cocktails or some freshly shucked oysters and a glass of one of The Harbour Club’s many elegant Champagnes. The menu offers a stunning variety of culinary classics made with only the best ingredients. You’ll find towering platters of sumptuous fruits de mer, excellent fish and lobster, beautifully grilled steaks, and even a fine selection of sushi and sashimi. “One of our signature dishes is the steak-tartare, which we always prepare at the guest’s table according to their personal taste,” says manager Koen Schipper. Another example of the restaurant’s gourmet artistry is its crispy fried oysters topped with stirfried wild spinach and a velvety hollandaise sauce. Wine connoisseurs will certainly be spoilt for choice with an extensive list that includes exceptional Burgundies from

renowned houses and some of the top names in Champagne, among them Moët & Chandon and Dom Perignon. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the restaurant’s motto is ‘where true food meets glamour’, a guiding principle The Harbour Club has proudly managed to uphold for the last ten years. “This is a special anniversary,” says Schipper. “It’s great to see that we are still so popular, and we will celebrate this in style on 8 March,” he adds. If you’re looking for a restaurant that merges gustatory excellence with the most agreeable of surroundings and attention for even the finest details, The Harbour Club is definitely an excellent choice when visiting Rotterdam.

Discover Benelux  |  City Special  |  All Spotlights on Rotterdam

A meat lovers’ paradise Thick, juicy and broiled to perfection: if steak is your game and you happen to be in Rotterdam, there’s a restaurant that is truly worth your time: CEO Baas Van Het Vlees, which translates to CEO: Meat Boss, named best meat restaurant by the Dutch Restaurant Awards multiple times. The CEO stands for ‘Cote de Boeuf’ (rib steak), ‘Entrecote’ and ‘Ossenhaas’ (beef tenderloin), with those three cuts being the core business. The restaurant has been run by owners Sharon Kars and Mario Ridder since 2013. The menu changes every season, but


the main ingredients stay pretty much the same, offering up the finest meats in a setting that mirrors the stalwart and raw feel that the southern part of Rotterdam encompasses. Kars: “We pride ourselves on having the best cuts and use hormone-free meat from Texan Black Angus cows. It’s marbled to perfection and we’re one of the few Dutch restaurants that uses an American broiler, for which we had to install some extra gas pipes. It’s worth the result as the heat comes from above, scorching the meat and thus ensuring all those juices and flavours are kept nicely in place.”

Asked what the favourites are, Kars has her answer ready immediately: “The share platters, like the CEO platter with different kinds of starters as an entrée, and the one for the main course that is filled with the meats that CEO stands for. As for wine pairings, we have a wide assortment of wines from 32 euros a bottle to 1,630, and if you’re in the mood for a good cheese, we have a cheese cellar where we will take you and you can load up.”

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Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Guillermo Guiz


The Belgian comedy king Following on from his enormous success with the comedy series Roi de la vanne on French TV channel Canal+, not to mention his popularity on the France Inter radio show La Bande Originale, Belgian funnyman Guillermo Guiz is quickly becoming one of the biggest names in francophone comedy. The Brussels-born comic, real name Guy Verstraeten, has started the year with a sell-out run of his new stand-up show Au Suivant! at the Théâtre de la Toison d’Or in Brussels, follow-up to the hugely successful Guillermo Guiz a un bon fond. We caught up with Guiz ahead of opening night, and found him to be charming, thoughtful, and of course – very funny. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: THOMAS BRAUT, OLYMPIAPROD

“The first time I went on stage, I had just been dumped by my girlfriend,” recalls Guiz, who grew up in Brussels in the 1980s, and first began making a name for himself at the city’s Kings of Comedy Club in 2013. “I thought to myself, ‘If I go up on a stage, I will be so nervous that at least I will not think about it for seven minutes’. It worked. The problem is that after a while, I started to feel less stressed, and then I started thinking about her…” The heartache clearly didn’t affect the comic’s performance, as he went on to play in residence at the Kings of Comedy Club for six months, before selling out the Théâtre de la Toison d’Or six times with his show Guillermo Guiz a un bon fond,

a light-hearted exploration of what makes someone a ‘good person’.

Early life Guiz grew up in Anderlecht, home of the iconic Belgian football club, and looked set to embark on a career in the game himself, until he was forced to give up the sport due to various injuries at the age of 18. “I had a fairly happy youth, dominated by football. I was always with a ball, going to play in the park with my friends,” he remembers. “We could stay whole days on the benches watching people go by and discussing life. Today, I wonder what we were talking about for ten hours a day. Nowadays, I run out of conversation after 25 minutes.”

At that time, he was known by his birth name, Guy, so where did Guillermo Guiz come from? “These are two of my nicknames stuck together,” the star explains. “My name is Guy, and in the French-speaking world, that is not a very cool name at all. My friends called me Guillermo, or Guiz, so I combined those to make ‘Guillermo Guiz’.”

No place like home He may have had vast success in neighbouring France, primarily due to the hilarious Canal+ series Roi de la vanne and his role on French TV and radio star Nagui’s France Inter show, but Belgium will always be home for Guiz. “I go back and forth to Paris for work, but I decided Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  45

Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Guillermo Guiz

to live in Brussels, because I have all my friends, my bearings,” he smiles. “Paris is a beautiful city, but a little cold, a little tense for me, people walk too fast. Everyone in Brussels is walking more slowly.”

The right energy As someone who divides their time between the two countries, does Guiz find any big differences between French and Belgian audiences? “I don’t think there are that many actually,” he muses. “I would say that in certain cities of Wallonia, I’ve experienced atmospheres that I haven’t experienced elsewhere. But to say that the Parisian public is distant and the Brussels public is warm – I think that would be a cliché. For me, a show is an exchange of energy between the stage and the room. If everyone is in good form, the comedian and the audience – it creates a perfect moment. Otherwise, it can be very depressing.” Can Guiz recall a particular performance when the energy wasn’t right? “One time, I had a group of teenagers in the room. It was a very small room in Paris, and people were a little nervous. There was lots of whispering,” he recalls. “At one point, during one of the countless sections about sex, one of the teenagers called out to me saying: ‘Sir, doesn’t what you say about your girlfriend bother her?’ I think he had misunderstood the concept of the show.”

Photo: Philippe Mazzoni/OlympiaProd

46  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

Photo: Philippe Mazzoni/OlympiaProd

Hecklers aren’t often an issue for Guiz, although when it happens he usually handles them in his trademark style. “When it succeeds, you have the whole room on your side, and you feel strong. When it fails, it makes everyone uncomfortable!”

Rise to the top Having performed at an array of legendary venues such as the Théâtre du PointVirgule in Paris and the famous Montreux Comedy Festival in Switzerland, Guiz has come a long way from the days of his early career. “When I started, I performed in rooms without a stage, in fields… So today, everything seems better to me,” he laughs. “In truth, I can find pleasure in

front of 30 people or 3,000. It all depends on the energy we receive from the room. Mind you, in general, I don’t like rooms where the ceilings are too high and people are too far from the stage.”

Philosophy While Guiz also has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a journalism diploma, comedy is where his heart lies. He grew up watching Canal+ classics such as the Guignols de l’Info, as well being a huge fan of Belgian comedy group Les Snuls, who were huge in the early ‘90s. “They were among the people who made me laugh the most in the world,” he grins, also citing the British surreal comedy group Monty Python among his comedy heroes. “When I was little, I watched tapes of Monty Python, I had all the Flying Circus, I know Life of Brian by heart.” In terms of contemporary comedians, Guiz admires Americans like Louis CK, Dave Chappelle, Bill Burr and Sarah Silverman, as well as Blanche Gardin and Thomas VDB from France. “They all bring almost philosophical reflections on human life, whilst making me howl with laughter. It is very high class,” he enthuses. Guiz himself has a rather philosophical approach to his comedy, as reflected when asked about his ambitions for the next ten years: “I just want to continue doing what I do. To reflect on the world in which I live – make jokes about it and tell them to people,” he smiles.

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  47


Education & training The benefits of studying in the Benelux are numerous. From inspiring international schools to renowned business courses, we bring you a selection of some of the region’s best educational establishments. PHOTOS: PIXABAY

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Discover Benelux  |  Special Guide  |  Education & Training


Located in the heart of Brussels, BEPS International School provides preschool, primary and secondary students with stimulating learning experiences to ensure they reach their full potential both academically and socially. BEPS is renowned for placing an emphasis on authentic learning experiences, ensuring youngsters develop skills which can be directly applied in the real world. At BEPS secondary school, students follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP). “Often when we plan a particular learning experience, there are multiple levels on which the students learn,” explains school director Pascale Hertay. “The aim of BEPS Secondary School is to take what is often called the ‘hidden curriculum’, involving soft skills like collaboration and time management, and make them explicit. We aim to create environments where learning is visible on multiple levels and for multiple goals.”

Last month’s HOWOW workshop was a great example of this; as students experienced the design process involved in making a short stop-motion animation – creating models, storyboard, sound effects, lighting and shooting. “Our explicit goal was to create an animated shipwreck which could be used for the opening scene of our end-of-year production,” says Mrs Hertay. “The skills and themes were linked to Art and Design, and even Literature classes, where MYP classes are exploring Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Twelfth Night, both of which begin with a shipwreck.” Another example of the school’s fresh approach is its new partnership with Professional Women International (PWI), an association which aims to promote gender-balanced leadership. Together with PWI, BEPS wants to innovate the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts (including Design) and Mathematics (STEAM) to future generations.

The first workshop with PWI Brussels focused on working towards a sustainable bioeconomy world. It was led by Geert Maesmans, global R&D director at agricultural firm Cargill and Cristina Vicini, owner of Vicini Strategy. The experts took the students through the design processes used within Cargill’s R&D teams and explored the subject of meat replacements. “Our students saw a direct link with the MYP learning approach. They realised the design cycle used by Cargill is very similar to the inquiry and design cycles we use. It helped them realise they are not just accumulating knowledge — they are gathering transferable skills for the workplace. Furthermore, they are learning to ask the right questions, take the right actions and make the right decisions,” concludes Mrs Hertay.

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  49


Surrounded by idyllic Belgian countryside, less than 50 kilometres from Brussels in Walloon Brabant, you will find a small, independent school, with a revolutionary approach to learning. At Schola Nova, an international school of classical humanities for pupils aged eight to 17, the myth of Latin as a ‘dead’ language has firmly been dispelled. This is one of the only schools in Europe to teach spoken Latin, with students coming from all over the world to communicate in the classical language. Intrigued to find out more about the establishment’s unique combination of tradition and experiment, we spoke to co-principal Alexandre Feye, whose father Stéphane Feye founded Schola Nova in 1995. 50  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

Housed in a beautiful 18th-century former convent, Schola Nova offers cosy classrooms with stunning views. There is also the possibility to board, meaning the school attracts pupils from various countries. Peek inside any lesson at Schola Nova and what will immediately strike you is a feeling of joy. “We are an association of passion. Walking around the building you can sense the enthusiasm of our teachers, who are highly qualified and multitalented.” This of course has a knock-on effect on students, whose enthusiasm for learning is palpable.

Past meets present Schola Nova’s aim is to produce capable young humanists, able to express themselves in several languages and adept

at reasoning both with the heart and the mind. By studying Greco-Latin classical humanities, students gain a profound knowledge of their roots, as well as an insight into other cultures. “The Greco-Latin culture represents the cradle of civilisation, and we believe this European heritage must be safeguarded and passed on. We don’t want the students of today to miss out on this tradition,” asserts Alexandre. “Such studies enlighten us and help us to understand the world in which we live, and to respect different civilisations. By exploring our roots in more depth, we can better understand and respect others.”

Discover Benelux  |  Special Guide  |  Education & Training

Spoken Latin Pupils at Schola Nova begin Latin as a living language at the age of ten. “Many people would call Latin a ‘dead’ language, but it is far from extinct,” explains Alexandre. “You can find people who speak it all over the world today – in countries ranging from China to America.” Another misconception about Latin is that it is difficult to learn, as Alexandre points out that it is no harder than learning any other language. “And the pronunciation in Latin is straightforward,” he adds.

Critical reasoning & talents unfolding Schola Nova also guarantees a high level of education in mathematics and sciences. The school’s well-balanced programme nurtures critical reasoning, analysis and synthesis skills. “We don’t separate the arts and scientific subjects, or label students as being ‘scientific’ or ‘artistic’,” explains Alexandre. When it comes to modern languages, language immersion is practiced from the outset. At secondary level, all students take classes in Dutch and English taught by native speakers. Furthermore, geography

and history of Belgium are taught in Dutch, and there is one biology class in English. Extra-curricular activities also play a major role at the school, with pupils enjoying a range of creative pursuits such as poetry and theatre, not to mention having the opportunity to learn other languages such as Arabic and Hebrew. Music is an important part of the school’s DNA – its founder is a former conservatory music teacher and conductor, while Alexandre

is a renowned Belgian violinist. Each year, Schola Nova organises a series of classical music concerts in the school hall, where pupils are given the chance to meet with artists. “It’s not obligatory, but many of our pupils are talented musicians,” he enthuses.

Truly unique Another stand-out feature of Schola Nova is how creatively subjects are handled, with each teacher taking responsibility for his or her own educational approach. This freedom, combined with the school’s family-type structure, gives greater emphasis to human relations, and there is plenty of contact between staff and parents. As a non-subsidised private school, Schola Nova does not offer a recognised secondary education diploma. This may initially sound like a disadvantage, but it just goes to highlight the school’s distinctiveness. Following their studies at Schola Nova, pupils therefore take either a university admissions exam or a Certificate of Higher Secondary Education. Up to now, all pupils completing their studies at Schola Nova have passed one of these exams, and have begun their higher education journey earlier or at the usual age. “Pupils leave us armed with all the skills they need to succeed,” concludes Alexandre.

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  51

Discover Benelux  |  Special Guide  |  Education & Training

Nurturing international excellence TEXT: EMMA JONES  |  PHOTOS: ST JOHN’S

At St. John’s, students have been following the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum since the 1970s; the IB is a widely recognised gold standard curriculum that is taught worldwide. All students follow the IB programme in the Primary, Middle Years and Diploma programmes from age two and a half to 18. The curriculum is broad-based and academically rigorous, developing students’ skills such as evaluation and communication, curiosity and creativity. The IB is ideally suited for international families as the curriculum is taught in schools right across the globe and recognised by universities worldwide. It is an excellent preparation for higher education; students develop highly proficient research skills and the ability to write academically. St John’s graduates achieve places at highly competitive university courses, including; Oxbridge, Russell Group and Ivy League. The admissions team is always helpful and happy to put families moving to Belgium in touch with estate agents. Once accepted to the school, new fam52  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

ilies are contacted by the parent-run Welcome Committee who connect them with a buddy family and provide any support needed as well as welcoming them socially. The school aims to simplify the integration process as much as possible, so families receive a ‘Welcome Handbook’ detailing food shop recommendations, and even where to find English-speaking medical care. On campus, all primary, middle, and high-school buildings are interconnected – a great bonus with the temperamental Belgian weather! With classrooms that are described by the head teacher as ‘bright, airy and well-equipped, designed to promote collaborative learning’, the school also has an open-door policy, and parents are very welcome on campus. St John’s also provides great extracurricular programmes and facilities that include a 400-seat theatre, dance studios, the Greene Art Gallery, sports halls, a gym and ample sports fields. St John’s is always looking to improve its facilities, adding a recently refurbished Early Learning School and a beautifully

appointed boarding house. As a member of the Inspired network with 60 other schools worldwide, it offers inter-school exchanges and welcomed students from South Africa earlier this year. The network has established a unique collaboration with Berklee College of Music in New York to further enrich its outstanding performing arts programme. International schools nurture a global mindset, intercultural understanding, emotional intelligence and adaptability in students. And with the current shifting job market, students are flexible and open to all eventualities, giving them a competitive advantage and springboard for life.

Ms Elaine Purves, head of school.

Discover Benelux  |  Special Guide  |  Education & Training

International learning that is a ‘safe place for all’ TEXT: COLETTE DAVIDSON  |  PHOTOS: HARBOUR INTERNATIONAL

At Harbour International, learning goes beyond curriculum. The school, which serves children from groups one to eight aims to teach students respect and empathy for others, as well as give them the skills to navigate the challenges of the 21st century. In a city like Rotterdam, which boasts nearly 200 nationalities, international education is never far behind. Offering one of the most affordable programmes in the city is Harbour International, an international school that strives to make education accessible and enriching to a diverse range of families. Following the International Primary Curriculum (IPC), Harbour International counts 260 students, in groups one to eight from over 40 different nationalities. Because most students have come to the Netherlands with their families on a temporary basis – a majority of whom do not have English as their first language – Harbour International makes a special effort to

make school feel like a second home. “We pride ourselves on being a very caring school,” says Jenny Swift, head of school at Harbour International. “We’re a whole learning community. Many of our families are transient, so we want to help people from different nationalities settle in.” The school organises coffee and conversation mornings for parents, and helps with the English and Dutch language for those who need it. But first and foremost, the school is focused on giving its students the skills they need to face the future.

In addition to a wide-ranging curriculum, Harbour International works to instil the IPC’s eight personal goals: enquiry, resilience, morality, communication, thoughtfulness, cooperation, respect and adaptability. It also offers music and drama classes either during or after regular school hours. One of its mottos, says Ms Swift, is to “help make school a safe and welcoming place for all.”

Discover Benelux  |  Special Guide  |  Education & Training

Business learning for the real world TEXT: COLETTE DAVIDSON  |  PHOTOS: SOLVAY BRUSSELS SCHOOL

There is no more ‘business as usual’ in education. Leveraging its long tradition of excellence, Solvay Executive Education takes leadership to the next level and offers advanced management programmes for professionals in a variety of formats and industries. Solvay Executive Education, part of the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, has created short, medium and long-term courses for those seeking to develop their skills and acquire up-to-date knowledge. Being a great leader takes time and dedication, but it also takes know-how. For those looking for new perspectives, Solvay Executive Education in Brussels has designed four dedicated ranges of programmes. The Advanced Masters series includes one-year degrees in Political Economy, Financial Markets, or Innovation and Strategic Management. They are designed for recently graduated students 54  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

who want to fast-track their professional plans. The Executive MBA is an 18-month programme for those seeking a career boost.

Executive Education, “with one foot firmly planted in the business world and the other in academia. We offer the best of both worlds.”

For those with less time for training at their disposal, the open-enrolment Executive Programmes and Masters span between one and 30 days in a variety of subject areas such as Leadership, Innovation, Finance and Analytics.

Solvay Executive Education also aims to be a hub for professionals both inside and outside Belgium. Participants enrolled in the Solvay programmes hail from all around the world.

The school also designs tailor-made programmes for companies seeking personalised learning journeys and transformation plans. Regardless of which programme participants choose, Solvay Executive Education is dedicated to offering broad-based learning that stays on top of the latest developments and innovations in the world of business and management. “Our programmes are at the crossroads between research and practice,” explains Olivier Witmeur, CEO of Solvay

Having long established business and academic partnerships in Belgium and beyond has also given the school the upper hand when it comes to networking. Thus, participants leave not only with a degree, but the prospect of job and business opportunities, as well. “We have a unique connection with many business ecosystems in many countries around the world,” says Mr. Witmeur, “which helps with life after school. Because education is never over.”


Continuous improvement as a solution for organisational hassle TEXT AND PHOTOS: LEARNINGWAVES

Do you know this feeling? That as CEO or manager, you feel that your organisation is under constant pressure to work better, faster and cheaper. You observe various uncontrollable processes and inefficient collaboration structures – also with suppliers. Maybe you thought you could solve this with well-coordinated top-down instructions, but the market and society have become too complex for that. So how do you avoid getting lost in the daily business of putting out fires? How do you get everyone engaged with innovation? And how do you get people motivated? 56  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

LearningWaves guides and trains leaders and their teams to collaborate in a different way and to put innovation first. They do this based on the Lean method, combined with the self-developed, tried and tested Learn teaching. Learn helps to substitute organisational hassle with a clear point on the horizon, easily collaborating teams, happy clients, intrinsically motivated colleagues and a better business performance. LearningWaves is located in the Brainport region near Eindhoven in the Netherlands and works for Dutch and Belgian companies in the construction, infra, production, care and service sectors, and in their international branches.

Discover Benelux  |  Special Guide  |  Education & Training

Innovation as a constant Erik Giebels is partner and trainer at LearningWaves: “In the current market, innovation is the only constant. You want to be agile and do your work better every day. Therefore sustainability is essential. You need motivated people with expertise to enable innovation. If you take good care of them, they wil stay with your company longer. And their work will be more interesting and fun for them. The main question is: how do you engrain this ‘better every day’ mentality into the DNA of your organisation? You start with the people.”

Raising awareness “Together with the client, we create smarter processes,” Erik continues. “If the people in your organisation understand why certain changes are improvements, those changes will start to pay off. That’s why we pay a lot of attention to raising awareness and motivation in people. We work based on the Lean philosophy. We complement Lean through our own Learn method with various coaching, communication and organisation models to improve motivation. We teach people to work together in new ways.”

The baseline: improve client value With Lean, you look at an organisation like a group of people who execute a series of activities. The result is a product or a service. Some activities add client value (for example, a bridge builder’s

activities are to create a bridge from materials) and some activities do not directly add client value (like acquisition, stock and administration). Lean focuses on increasing client value. Erik: “For many people it’s a shock to hear that in an average organisation only ten per cent of activities are of the kind that add direct client value. After this initial shock, they quickly realise that every added percentage point is worth the effort. For example, after redesigning their process, one of our clients was able to build a roundabout in one weekend. A fantastic result for the team and the client, but also for all the people who don’t have to take a detour for weeks or even months. Try calculating the economic and social value of that!”

Making the difference: keeping motivation and energy up The Lean methods are meant to bring structure, overview and room for the team and management to make improvements. Erik: “Engaging with improvement in itself is pleasant for many people. But simply using methods to achieve dry improvements is too instrumental an approach. Compare this to a top athlete – they constantly fine-tune their technique and are continuously improving. To be able to win competitions, the athlete’s mindset is also important: motivation, passion, flow. The trick is to create an organisational climate

in which employees experience happiness in their work and can bring out the best in themselves. That isn’t easy, and there are some ‘buttons’ you can push. Scientific research shows that intrinsic motivation in employees is stimulated by the degree of autonomy, mastery and purpose they experience.”

Learn By combining these elements – optimising client value and stimulating (team) motivation – you create what LearningWaves calls a Learn-climate. The goal is to maximise your score on both axes. That is where an organisation’s success lies. This is only possible if employees and teams themselves continuously strive for improvement. Erik: “Employees are often much better at improving their processes than managers. They have the practical knowledge and experience, know what’s important, what influences timing, etc.” In a learning enterprise, management has a fundamentally different role from traditionally structured companies. Leaders function more like coaches, who facilitate teams and employees in everything they need to reach an optimised company process and an optimal self-development. Erik: “It’s also more suited for the leaders to be removed from the actual operation, that way they have time to work on the strategy of the company, innovation and largescale improvements.”

Left: By combining optimising client value and stimulation (team) motivation you can create a Learn-climate.

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  57

Discover Benelux  |  Special Guide  |  Education & Training

‘Now I am a coach instead of the boss,’ Jan Boom, director and owner, Aldowa When we acquired Aldowa, we knew one thing for certain: we will do things differently. Reform a hierarchical organisation into one with autonomy and responsibility. In that process, it turned out that I was very good at what I was doing, only I did not ask myself the WHY-question. I slowly realised that I was constantly spending my day coming up with solutions for others. That took a lot of my energy, and I was not using the potential of the organisation. Through LearningWaves I learned how to offer insight. To let people come up with their own ideas. To support them as a coach. It gave me so much. I have started to do business differently and by doing so I have also taken more pleasure in it. I have also learned to understand and use the

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Lean & Learn methods more effectively. You can see this in the brilliant results: Aldowa is successful and our team is growing. We respect the ambitions of our employees through our common goal of creating striking projects, by thinking and working differently. Aldowa makes facades, ceilings and artworks with special lines and effects. The company wins prizes and is the New Heroes of the city Rotterdam (innovation prize of the sector organisation). The team realises prestigious (international) projects, like the award-winning Markthal in Rotterdam, Cambridge Road in London and Nordea Bank in Copenhagen.

Jan at Markthal.

To find out more about LearningWaves, visit: Email:





Working with weirdos TEXT & PHOTO: STEVE FLINDERS

Dominic Cummings, chief special adviser to the British prime minister, has suggested that the British civil service should be shaken up by recruiting “weirdos and misfits”. MerriamWebster defines ‘weirdo’ as “a person who is extraordinarily strange or eccentric” and ‘misfit’ as “a person who is poorly adapted to a situation or environment”. When I think about all the weirdos I have had to deal with at work over the years, I can safely conclude that I could have done without nearly all of them. As for taking on misfits, I think any recruiter would be somewhat baffled by an instruction from a superior to look for people “poorly suited to the environment”. It may well be that senior civil servants are too often clones of their predecessors and Mr Cummings is right to want to achieve more “cognitive diversity” within the service, but there are less hazardous and haphazard ways of achieving this than he suggests. Some organisations have already learnt that the danger of recruiting people who 60  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

all face the same way is that they may all be facing the wrong way. There has been some progress at last on gender inequality. There is more awareness today that too many workplaces are nightmares for introverts. Good diversity policies help to harness the abilities of members of minorities whose job applications have hitherto gone straight in the bin. Some IT firms are organising their work environments to be more sensitive to the needs of talented autistics.

That means paying people decently, giving them manageable workloads, and showing them that they are respected and valued. It’s amazing what great results can come from happy workers, but I suspect this simple proposal would be too much of a disruption for the current government.

Team development training can help individuals and groups to become more aware of their own preferences and more tolerant of those of others. Good teams understand the need to balance creative mavericks and organisers, disrupters and rule followers, and big picture people with people with an eagle eye for detail. It’s good to have someone shaking the apples, provided they don’t spill the entire cart. If Mr Cummings wants to do something really radical for the civil service, my suggestion is for the government to stop using its employees as whipping boys and girls, and behave like any good employer should.

Steve Flinders is a freelance trainer, writer and coach, based in Malta, who helps people develop their leadership and communication skills for working internationally:

Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Calendar

Business Calendar TEXT: MAYA WITTERS

Financial Services Conference.

European Finance Summit

Absolute Retail Forum

Financial Services Conference

5 March Luxembourg City, Luxembourg The European Finance Summit in Luxembourg brings together key finance players to share best practices, deepdive into topics like compliance, fin-tech and sustainable investment, and build lasting relationships. This year’s edition includes panels on consumer payments and open finance, as well as plenty of interesting keynotes.

11-13 March Amsterdam, the Netherlands Absolute Retail Forum unites retailers from all walks of commerce to think about innovation together. Technology is the big topic on the table in 2020, with key discussions centring around e-commerce, AI and big data. With speakers from brands like Amazon, H&M and Microsoft, there will be plenty to learn. absolute-retail-forum-2020

19 March Brussels, Belgium The Financial Services Conference, hosted by Accenture, Barclays, Bloomberg and Kreab, is a major event on the Brussels calendar, with around 400 senior bankers and policymakers in attendance yearly. The 2020 edition promises to be especially interesting, with a focus on embracing change in times of uncertainty.

Microsoft Ignite

Food Waste Fest

11-12 March Amsterdam, the Netherlands Microsoft’s hands-on learning conference tours the world to reach as many tech professionals as possible, and it’s Amsterdam’s turn in March. The event is organised along various Learning Paths, thematic modules that allow attendees to deep-dive into their topic of choice and build their own conference experience. amsterdam

18 March Brussels, Belgium Food waste is one of many sustainability challenges facing businesses today, and Brussels organisation FoodWIN is determined to combat the issue. Its annual Food Waste Fest includes practical workshops, a zero-waste dinner, and keynotes from prominent authorities in the field. On the line-up this year: author Tristram Stuart and leading food thinker Carolyn Steel, amongst others.

Food Waste Fest.

Food Waste Fest.

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  61

Building the economy of the future TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: AUDEBERT

All around the world, investors are increasingly searching for investments that will help protect our planet. ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investing, also known as ‘sustainable investing’, is now a major consideration for shareholders, as they seek transactions which will not only yield positive financial returns, but will also have a positive long-term impact on the environment and our society. One firm at the forefront of this evolution is asset management group La Française, a global company with a long-term vision for the future. To find out more about its pioneering activity in the field of sustainability, we spoke to Perrine Dutronc, senior adviser in responsible investing at La Française. 62  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

With offices in key European destinations including Belgium, France, the United Kingdom and Germany, La Française carries out two core activities – financial and real assets. The company deploys its multi-boutique model with institutional and private clients all over the world, and has a long-term vision when it comes to sustainable finance. This has most recently been reflected in the appointment of Laurent Jacquier-Laforge as global head of sustainable investing. “This role sends a very strong signal,” says Perrine, explaining that Laurent Jacquier-Laforge and his dedicated team are a reference point for both internal and external groups at La Française. “They demonstrate our commitment to sustainable investment in all our areas of expertise.”

A leading force La Française has been dedicated to the subject of sustainable finance for many years now, highlighted by the creation of its very own ESG and sustainable investment research centre. At the end of 2013, La Française joined forces with the group Inflection Point to advance the

Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  La Française Group

development of responsible investment research, advisory services and related investment products. In March 2018, La Française acquired full ownership of Inflection Point, and Inflection Point by La Française was born. The research centre supports La Française with indepth sustainability knowledge to help develop, and successfully enforce, original solutions.

Transition is key While sustainable finance has been at the forefront of thinking at La Française for some time now, Perrine admits the company’s viewpoint has altered more recently, particularly in relation to climate change. “Our perspective changed from this being something we wanted to do step-by-step, to there now being a sense of emergency,” she concedes. “The world is changing, and we need to transition to a low-carbon economy. Transition is a key word for us, and we want to help our clients navigate their way through the transition.”

Protection in a changing world Perrine is eager to stress that La Française is not only appealing to clients who are already aware of the issues at stake. “This is not just for the people who are convinced of the problem, we have to inspire all our clients,” she asserts. “We want to help clients understand why this is needed and what is at stake. It makes sense even purely from a financial perspective, if you consider your retirement, life insurance, long term capital… You need to understand how the world

might be. We want to help people protect themselves in a changing world.” La Française is proud to support companies in changing their business model, and Perrine believes the economy of the future can only be built by tackling issues head on. “We won’t just say: ’there’s a problem with the steel industry, for example, so we won’t invest there’. That is not the solution,” she attests. “The solution is to help those types of companies adapt a business plan that is compliant with a low-carbon strategy.”

Real estate A large chunk of the business carried out by La Française is in real estate, where, as Dutronc points out, there is a good case for implementing social changes as well

as environmental ones: “We can’t just focus on ‘green buildings’. A building should not just have a ‘green’ label. We often see that buildings which are supposed to be low emitting can emit a great deal if people are not aware how to use them.” Today, sustainable finance can mean many different things to different people, and it takes time for La Française to help its clients navigate the field. “Not everyone wants and needs the same thing. We really need to be in a position to know our clients well enough, and have the confidence to know what they want and how we can help them,” explains Perrine.

Working together La Française also has a club for its investors, where they can learn more about the subject of sustainable finance. On a quarterly basis, the club welcomes professionals, including experts from think tanks or large companies, to share their ideas. In March, for example, they will welcome Nadine Viel Lamare, director of Transition Pathway Initiative. In real estate, the company also organises conferences to help spread awareness and identify potential upcoming issues. “We need to reflect, not only by ourselves, but as part of collaborative efforts,” concludes Perrine.

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  63

Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Transforma BXL

An innovative entrepreneurial ecosystem in the heart of Brussels TEXT: EDDI FIEGEL  |  PHOTOS: TRANSFORMA BXL

Brussels may be most famous as home to the European Union’s headquarters, but over the last few years, a new initiative – Transforma BXL – has also put the city at the forefront of contemporary trends in today’s workplace.

provide a perfect environment for start-ups involved in product development, hardware prototyping, and e-commerce.”

Providing two innovative, flexible and eco-friendly spaces – Transforma Evere near Brussels airport and Transforma Loi, close to the EU – Transforma BXL offers not only co-working opportunities but a huge range of additional services.

Start-ups and freelancers using the spaces can take advantage of a wide range of facilities on offer. These include a warehouse, podcast studio and media lab providing video casting, virtual reality facilities and photography, a ‘fablab’ with laser cutters and 3D printers, as well as wood, metal and electronics workshops, where newly designed objects can be prototyped.

As founder Anis Bedda explains: “The idea was to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem facilitating the emergence of sustainable innovation. We now have 200 people and 50 separate companies across our two spaces and offer a unique combination of services.”

Awarded the internationally recognised ‘Green Key’ sustainability credentials, sustainability is also central to Transforma BXL. There is efficient energy-usage throughout both spaces and, at Evere, coworkers can also enjoy a huge permaculture garden with a food forest, a pond and beehives.

“We have created an environment where organisations can have access to all the amenities and services they may need,” continues Bedda, “to focus on their business, especially those requiring product prototyping and warehousing. We also

Transforma Evere spans some 2,700 square metres, whilst Transforma Loi spans around 400, and both spaces are beautifully designed. Features include bold, dynamic colour-schemes, creative lighting and art on the walls, as well as plenty of

64  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

spaces for ‘break-outs’ and ‘mediation or mind-easing’. With the growing trend for working on an independent basis, either as freelancers, entrepreneurs creating start-ups or consultants, more and more people are looking for creative and environmentally-friendly working environments. There is now also a growing pool of ‘intrapreneurs’ – employees of large corporations whose corporate employers have given them free reign to create new opportunities and ventures for the company on a semi-independent basis and both intrapreneurs and organisations alike use Transforma BXL’s ‘co-creation’ spaces for meetings.Whether they be entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs or freelancers, Transforma BXL hopes to provide a new style of working for them all. LinkedIn: transforma-bxl Facebook, Instagram and Twitter: @transformabxl

Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  DaVinci Yachts

Create perfect moments with pure luxury TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: DAVINCI YACHTS

Enjoying the open waters with your family during the day, mooring your boat at sundown for a lovely dinner and then sleeping below deck during the night; the luxurious yachts by DaVinci Yachts will create unforgettable moments on the water. “And we take care of your ship when you are not using it, making sure it is ready when you are,” says Erik van Veen, owner of DaVinci Yachts. DaVinci Yachts has been building semi-custom models since 2001. “A lot of families like to be on a sloop, but those often do not have a below deck, where you can sleep, for instance,” explains Van Veen. “So, together with Vripack, we designed a 30-foot half-open yacht, complete with a luxurious below deck. It turned out to be an amazing ship and

that led us to today, where we build and maintain four types of DaVinci’s.” Customers have the choice between a 30foot, 32-foot, 35-foot and 40-foot ship: “The flagship of them all — this one has a spacious aft cabin, kitchen and a fore cabin with one or two (sleeping) cabins. We design this ship together with our customers; they decide the configuration and the interior design of it. Only when it is totally to their wishes, we start building it.” DaVinci has two shipyards; at its headquarters in Heeg, Friesland, and in Poland. “That country has a rich shipping history. They know what they are doing.” DaVinci Yachts has dealers in Germany, the UK and the US.

maintenance, for instance. That is why we offer a full service for your yacht. We provide storage facilities here in our own marina, maintain the ship fully and make sure that when you want to go out with it, it is ready for you,” elaborates Van Veen. “We even offer a worldwide pick-up service for our customers, should they wish that,” he continues. “We just want to make sure that our customers know their yacht is in good hands all of the time. That peace of mind; knowing everything is taken care of, from beginning to end, is what makes the experience of owning a DaVinci even better. We love our ships as much as our customers do. Maybe even a bit more,” Van Veen smiles.

‘Delivering peace of mind’ “Owning a ship is magnificent, but it can take up a lot of time — think about

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  65

Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Yachtbroker Monnickendam

Photo: Ben Scheurer

Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Daan Hamburger. Photo: Jachtmakelaar Monnickendam

The Netherlands has the best used yachts in the world TEXT: MICHIEL STOL

Yachting is becoming more popular than ever, but not everybody wants or can afford a brand-new ship. The market for used ships is therefore growing rapidly, and the Netherlands has a top reputation when it comes to finding used ships. “Nearly half of our clients come from abroad,” says Daan Hamburger, owner of Yachtbroker Monnickendam, a subsidiary of eSailing. “Dutch used ships are in very high demand. And luckily, there is quite a large selection of yachts that are in good condition. This is because most of the Dutch ships sail in fresh water. So, there is much less wear on the ships than on those that mainly sail on sea,” elaborates Hamburger. “And we love our ships, so we tend to take really good care of them.” A passion for ships and sailing 66  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

has always been present in Hamburger, and it is what drew him into becoming a yacht broker. “I started as an insurance broker, but felt I wanted to do more with ships. I started working in the chartering and delivering of sailing yachts, as well as organising sailing trips with classical yachts, and even an America’s Cupper.”

From appraisal to finalising the sale Yachtbroker Monnickendam buys and sells used motor and sail yachts from their own marinas on the Markermeer and the IJsselmeer. “Since the financial crisis in 2008, a lot of new ships haven’t been introduced, so the demand for used ships from after 2008 is very high,” Hamburger explains. He has been a licensed appraiser and sworn yacht broker for over two decades and is also a board member of the Yacht Brokers of HISWA, the Dutch association for wa-

ter sports companies. “We provide a full service, from the appraisal of the ships, to the sale and all the necessary paperwork and insurance.” Yachtbroker Monnickendam is also the only Dutch reseller for Sentijn, a semi-custom luxury sailing yacht. “There is definitely a difference in selling a motor yacht versus a sailing yacht. People who are looking for a motor yacht usually have a general idea of what they are looking for, whereas someone who is looking for a sailing yacht is more specific in their wishes. That difference makes it all the more fulfilling when we find the right ship for them. Because that is why we do it: developing a connection with people so we can help them to find their dream ship.”


Top coaching guide In the world of business, there is no denying the power of good management. This month, we profile some of the Benelux region’s leading coaching experts, who can help you in areas such as communication and team-building. PHOTOS: PIXABAY

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  69

Addressing the challenges of modern leadership TEXT: MAYA WITTERS  |  PHOTOS: OBEYA

Leadership coach and consultant Tim Wiegel experienced an ‘aha’-moment when he learned about the Obeya concept in 2014. First coined in Japan, this method helps multidisciplinary teams share essential context to act towards a common goal. Wiegel now uses Obeya as a foundation to help teams develop more effective management practices on all levels of an organisation. “Leadership is a craft that management teams should practice and develop together.” Obeya, literally ‘large room’ in Japanese, was first used by Toyota during the creation of the revolutionary Prius model. By visualising goals, performance and activities and physically displaying them on the walls, teams become more aware of the context in which they are working, which enables them to act and learn togeth70  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

er. At Toyota, this meant that the Prius was finished months before an already strenuous deadline, delivering a car that would pioneer the hybrid market.

ally, our current cultural management philosophy leads us to focus on shortterm goals rather than the long-term strategic objectives.”

Creating context together

“If different teams want to work together towards a common goal, they need consensus about what that goal is, what it means to their current organisation, what the different steps are, and which step happens when. If those aspects are unclear – or worse, if different managers have different opinions about them – teams will be steered in different directions, which leads to a lot of wasted effort.”

Wiegel, who is writing a book about the application of Obeya for leading organisations, immediately recognised its potential for leadership teams. “Research shows that over half of employees in large organisations cannot relate their work to the organisation’s strategic goals, and that they’re not sure if their work is valuable. If that’s the case, what are people actually spending their time on?” “I realised that the issue often lies in a lack of clarity and shared context,” explains Wiegel. “Companies and projects are increasingly complex in nature, and our brains are not well-equipped to deal with such levels of complexity. Addition-

“Managers need to relearn how to think of the organisational system as a whole, and understand how different parts are linked. If you make a change in your product design, it will affect everyone from manufacturing to marketing and customer care. Obeya helps to bring is-

Discover Benelux  |  Business Special  |  Top Coaching Guide

sues like these to the surface by looking at the bigger picture.”

More than just visual clarity However, simply decorating a room with your management reports will only leave you with a cool-looking reporting tool, warns Wiegel. “The visual aspect of Obeya is only one part of the story. Implementing the system properly requires guidance from an experienced coach, but also a sincerity in wanting to grow your capabilities as a team. It’s not a magic pill: you need to put serious work in to get the benefits. Only about a third of the effectiveness of Obeya comes from what you see on the walls – it also requires a change in mindset.” One of the problems is the way we look at management, Wiegel explains. “The various leaders in an organisation often do not function as a coherent team. Each one may have different KPI’s and ideas about efficient management, and there is a distinct lack of communication and alignment. That leads to siloed behaviour, which ends up undermining the organisational system as a whole.”

“In reality, good leadership is a craft, not an innate talent that only few possess. And crafts must be studied, practiced and honed. This implies that good leadership depends on a constant willingness to learn from others. Obeya is a really good instrument to help shift from individualistic to collective leadership, which is essential for delivering consistent leadership throughout the organisation.”

apply the Obeya structure to the company’s strategy, unearth potential pitfalls and strengthen the human leadership potential,” explains Wiegel. “I’m there to help with years of practical experience, having learned from many pitfalls myself.” Based in the Netherlands, Wiegel offers his training and coaching services internationally. His book Leading with Obeya will be published this year.

Practical applications for immediate results

“Where operational teams are adopting Lean and Agile ways of working, there is need for a similar practical approach on the leadership level to align both worlds. Obeya for leadership addresses this need. It’s not another hype for the bandwagon – it’s a tried-and-tested method that has produced amazing results worldwide,” concludes Wiegel. “I hope my book and coaching practice can help more organisations benefit from it, especially those that seek to make a positive social and environmental impact.”

Wiegel helps management teams get on top of their game by providing twoday training sessions that are firmly aimed at achieving immediate practical changes within an organisation. “One of the biggest compliments I received was when a participant said he thought he was going to learn about a tool, and he ended up learning about all the key aspects of leadership and how to apply them in practice the next week,” he attests. Sometimes, the training is given to whole teams. “That way, we can immediately

To contact Tim, visit:

Tim Wiegel.

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  71

Jos Frederiks

Every business is a people’s business TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: VIDASENSE

Businesses are more than a collection of statistics, business cards and paperclips. It is the people behind it who give a brand its fire, uniqueness and success. An unhappy, unmotivated or unsatisfied team can, therefore, impact your accountancy tremendously. VidaSense founder Jos Frederiks helps you to reignite the fire in your team and induce a renaissance within your halls. In his book Change your words to change your life, Frederiks zooms in on the power of words, honesty and great communication. After a successful, fast-paced career in the world of sales, Frederiks felt that it 72  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

was time for a change. “I worked in businesses of all sizes for 20 years,” says the businessman-turned-coach. “I saw businesses grow from 35 to 900 people, led entire sales teams and made it until the board room. Yet, after a take-over of the company I worked for, as well as multiple reorganisations, I got fired.” Shaken by this experience and fed-up with the impersonal attitude that you find in many white-collar environments, Frederiks followed his instinct and immersed himself in psychology. “I read every book I could find, got in contact with numerous professionals and even tagged along with a psychologist for an entire year. I started going to Bandler (the founder of Neuro-

Linguistic Programming (NLP)) in the United Kingdom and the United States, which I still do, to date.” `

“The road to success is fully paved with obstacles well handled”

Together with a business partner, Frederiks started a practice. A few years after, this same business partner doublecrossed him, after which Frederiks ended their collaboration. “This experience taught me a very valuable lesson: honesty is the most valuable thing there is, both in your professional and personal life.” With this philosophy in mind, he founded VidaSense, a multidisciplinary practice in which he and his team help compa-

Discover Benelux  |  Business Special  |  Top Coaching Guide

nies and individuals overcome a myriad of challenges by dealing with them on an honest, human level. “I am curious, sincere and great at listening. Combined with my contagious energy, this helps people on their way to success. The road to success is fully paved with obstacles well handled.” Furthermore, Frederiks works as a business coach, team trainer and key-note speaker.

How to live a happy life “Managers often forget that the true capital of their business is its people. It is the team as a whole who executes all your paper plans and every victory for the company should be one for the team, as well. Involving, valuing and motivating your people is, therefore, paramount.” To help companies achieve this, VidaSense approaches the issue from numerous angles. Not only do they help brands and people in need by offering them (group) psychology, business coaching, personal coaching, training, or a combination of them all; but they also use these tools to help companies to prevent these problems. “In the last decade, the duration of the average sick leave has increased drastically. We spend more time at home, which costs our companies handfuls of money. Investing in prevention programmes’ like ours is, therefore, a saving measure.”

Awareness When assisting a company, Frederiks and his team start by analysing the business and pinpointing its sore points. From there on, they handcraft a personalised action plan to provoke a change. “We don’t enter your company with static road maps or vague procedures. Instead, we build solutions from scratch based on what we observe.” Working from the top down, Frederiks and his team usually start with the company’s management. As they determine the company culture and steer its people, they usually are part of the problem. “The magic word when forcing a change is ‘awareness’. The management has to acknowledge the problems, be aware of what these entail and comprehend how they can be solved. Only then, a sustainable mentality change is possible.”

Jos Frederiks.

Word analyst VidaSense is there for everyone: business owners, account managers, entire teams… but also those who aim to have better personal relationships with the ones closest to them. “They come to me with a myriad of questions. How can I enjoy more? How can I be a better partner? How do I reduce my stress? How do I become better in what I do? … In my role as a coach, trainer and hypnotherapist, I have had over 16,000 talks with people. Throughout the years, I have learned that words are often the key to solving such issues. What you say to yourself and your environment allows you to grow or makes you stagnate. Using words more consciously makes you happier, both personally and professionally. People call me a word analyst.”

Change your words to change your life Over a decade after his career change, Frederiks has now written a book about communication and the way we use our words: Change your words to change your life. “Throughout the years, many people told me that I should write a book, but I never felt the need to do so. Until, at some point, someone argued that it

would allow me to affect way more people than just through one-on-one consultations and public speaking. This inspired me to, indeed, start writing.”

Change your words to change your life is a mirror to many and a reality-check to others. It approaches the topic of honest and clear communication from a most-relatable angle. “I didn’t specifically write it for managers or workers, but for people in general. Everyone faces choices and the consequences that come with them. In that sense, we are all the same. The choices you make determine the life you lead. You draw the blueprint of your life yourself. If you say you can’t, you’re right. If you say you can, then you are right too. Feel the difference? And being aware of that fact might just turn your world upside-down.” Change your words to change your life will be published in English in April and will be distributed worldwide. For more information, check:

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  73


Create reality from your imagination A selection of innovative Flemish companies have been at the forefront of additive manufacturing, or 3D-printing as it is best known as, for many years now. This month, we take a look at some of the industry’s key players. PHOTOS: PIXABAY

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Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Additive Manufacturing  |  Create Reality from your Imagination

Sirris helps flight simulator manufacturer Venyo recreate missing parts through 3D-printing.

Additive manufacturing adds value through innovation TEXT: MAYA WITTERS  |  PHOTOS: SIRRIS

Sirris has been in the business of additive manufacturing, or 3D-printing as it is more commonly known, for 30 years. As the first organisation in Belgium to invest in a 3D printer back in the day, it has since built a considerable body of expertise, which it uses to streamline production processes for its clients. “The potential is limitless.” Additive manufacturing refers to the process of stacking hundreds of thin, precise layers of material to build a product. “It’s the reverse of traditional sculpting: rather than remove outer layers of material, we build an object layer by layer,” explains Sirris additive manufacturing team leader Benjamin Denayer. “This is not a new idea in itself, but many of the modern applications are fairly new and the technique is still finding its way into manufacturing processes.”

Complex parts, simple processes As a non-profit research and technology centre, Sirris mostly acts as an R&D

partner for companies looking to innovate. “Essentially, we guide our clients through the process of introducing new technologies,” Denayer attests. “We help them identify opportunities for 3D-printing, carry out feasibility research, and assist with the production design and integration.” Introducing 3D-printing methods into the manufacturing process can optimise production by reducing the number of parts, as Denayer explains. “Because 3D-printing allows for the creation of much more complex shapes and structures in one part, the manufacturing process is streamlined by lowering the number of required assemblies.”

Helping the Belgian industries innovate Many of Sirris’ clients are in the space and air transport industries. “We recently collaborated with Thales Alenia Space Belgium to investigate how a new design for its PCB support structures could in-

crease efficiency and help abduct heat. And we worked with Venyo, a company that uses decommissioned cockpits to create flight simulators, to recreate missing parts through additive manufacturing.” “But other industries can also benefit hugely from our services,” concludes Denayer. “There are plenty of gains to be made in the medical field, machine manufacturing and the process industry. Each year, we answer around 3,000 enquiries from 1,500 companies in Belgium – most of them SMEs – with our extensive expertise.”

Sirris helped Thales Alenia Space Belgium redesign PCB carriers for maximum efficiency thorugh additive manufacturing

For more information, visit:

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  75

The new era of medical implants TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: CADSKILLS

In the field of implants, only the best suffices. The difference between a superior or inferior one can, in the end, change your life entirely – for better or for worse. Belgian medical implant pioneer CADskills has developed high-quality, custom-printed medical devices which are taking the world by storm. Because not only does its CAD/CAM creations fit the patients like a glove, they also speed up the surgery time significantly and reduce the chance of complications. “CAD/CAM stands for Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing,” explains Maurice Mommaerts, Belgium’s reference in the field of facial surgery and founder of CADskills. “It means 76  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

that an object is designed with a graphical software first and that it is created with the help of computers afterwards. This can happen in many different ways. Most common is the CNC technique (or, Computer Numerical Control). Here, a set of computercontrolled tools mill and turn objects into the right shape in no-time.” Yet, while CNC is a trusted method used by the lion’s share of implant manufacturers, it also has some disbenefits. In the milling process, plenty of metal goes to waste, which is both an economical and environmental waste. Furthermore, CNC is a means of massproduction. So, it does not lend itself to the creation of one-of-a-kind items. With its focus on custom-made implants, CADskills, therefore, creates its implants

by means of additive manufacturing; or 3D-printing, as it is commonly known. “Here, an exact laser melts the object out of a bath of metal powder. The powder that doesn’t get melted can be used again the next time, so very little goes to

Professor Mommaerts. Photo: MVIER- SBS Belgium

Discover Benelux  |  Special Theme  |  Flemish Additive Manufacturing

waste.” This process is slower than CNC and requires quite a bit of manual assistance, but it allows CADskills to create unique implants that fit the customers’ needs perfectly. “We can even create objects that are impossible to manufacture with CNC. If you, for example, want a hollow space within the prosthesis, we can print it that way. You just need to foresee a small hole to remove the excessive metal powder through. Before, creating these was more complex and less durable.”

‘Biofunctionalisation is vital’ Although major leaps have been made in the field of additive manufacturing, it still isn’t quite as precise as CNC. Where the latter generally is exact up to 0.01 millimetres, the former’s precision is only guaranteed up to about 0.1 millimetres. “To resolve this issue, our technicians complete our implant we produce with manual finishing, if necessary. This way, the result is precise up to 0.02 millimetres – about as good as the classic CNC implants.” Furthermore, every device that leaves the CADskills atelier receives a finishing to optimise it for its specific use. Its’ expertise in polishing, micro-shot peening,

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  77

Discover Benelux  |  Special Theme  |  Flemish Additive Manufacturing

acid etching and other finishing techniques is what makes its implants stand out. “Biofunctionalisation is vital in our sector,” explains Mommaerts. “Both on a macro level as on a micro level. The former makes sure that an implant doesn’t only look like the original object but also acts in the same way.” Micro biofunctionalisation, on the other hand, zooms in on the surface of the implant. For the body to recognise it as endogenous, its texture must strongly resemble the original one. If not, the consequences can be severe. “In some cases, overly smooth implants are far from ideal as they allow bacteria to live in the microscopic layer of liquid between the body and the device. Other implants do require a high grade of polishing.” CADskills, therefore, gives every prosthesis the ideal surface for its use. In terms of materials, CADskills settles for nothing less than the best. It solely works with the purest medical grade titanium alloy around – a very suited material for the manufacturing of implants. “Many stock implant factories also use chromecobalt, but we intentionally don’t do so. As the use of this material results in a significantly higher chance of rejection, we avoid working with it.”

A perfect fit Yet, it is not only the patient who benefits from using CADskills’ custom-made implants. Also, hospitals and surgeons benefit from using them. “When using traditional stock implants, a surgeon has to use the model that fits best. Yet, implanting it will probably still be a bit of a puzzle for which small pieces of bone have to be removed. If the part is custom-made, however, the prosthesis will fit in perfectly, reducing the actual surgery time to a bare minimum.” As the waiting lists of many operation theatres grow longer by the day, reducing the average operation time benefits the hospital, the patient and the surgeon.

Professor Mommaerts. Photo: MVIER- SBS Belgium

78  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

Another, not to be underestimated perk, is the psychological impact these custom-made implants have on the patient. “Knowing that an implant is designed and manufactured for them specifically, gives patients a feeling of rest.

Discover Benelux  |  Special Theme  |  Flemish Additive Manufacturing

It is one less thing to worry about in that stressful period of their lives.” Yet, this perfect fit also has its physical perks. Research shows that stock cheekbone implants cause 15 per cent more wear to the surrounding bones than the original bone would have done. With custom-made prostheses, you don’t have this problem.

Change the medical sector Despite common beliefs, a custom-made implant doesn’t even have to be that much more expensive than a mass-produced one. Of course, its production has a higher price tag, but its simple distribution chain is quite the penny-saver. “A high percentage of the price you pay for your stock prosthesis goes to its distributors. At CADskills, we invest the entire budget in the creation of the implant itself. So, you get better quality for your money.” As the creation process is entirely digital, CADskills can even assist you from a distance. Surgeons from all over the world can just send the CT data of the patient and some specific instructions to the Belgian firm, after which they design and create the implant and send it to the hospital. As an innovative company, CADskills is always looking for the right craftsmen to join the ranks. As precision and safety is key in the sector, a designer can only create up to 65 implants per year and also the CAD/CAM technicians need time to deliver work of the highest standard. “Today, we produce about six different products, all smaller parts like jaw replacements, skull implants and wristbone replacements. In the meantime, we are also developing seven others. We notice that more and more companies, investors and universities are interested in what we do and see the opportunities that it creates. This allows us to expand our domain and also focus on elbows, shoulders, hands and more, as well. We really believe in what we do and how it will change the medical sector. And with the right talent in our team, we might just become Europe’s leading custom implant manufacturer.”

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Opportunities, on and off the links TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: THE DUKE CLUB

Golf has always played a vital role in the business world. Many a deal has been struck on the greens and the links prove to be fertile soil for new friendships and fresh alliances. At the elegant estate that is The Duke Club, golf and business go hand in hand. As an exclusive business club, access to it is mainly reserved for its members, covering the club in an intriguing cloak of mystique. “We very rarely grant outsiders a peek behind our gates,” says general manager Marcel Arts. But for us, they made an exception. It was 1992 when esteemed entrepreneur Karel Van Eerd founded The Duke Club. After having built up a multi-million empire of Jumbo Supermarkets, Van Eerd wished 80  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

to create an oasis of brotherhood and discretion for the vibrant Dutch business scene. “Only businesses can become members of our club,” explains Marcel Arts, general manager of The Duke Club. “Each can join with a maximum of 125 flights. Today, The Duke Club counts 850 members who can all enjoy the fantastic facilities our domain has to offer.”

‘Perfection is our calling card’ The most important attraction at The Duke Club is its state-of-the-art, 18-hole golf course. It was entirely redesigned in 2014 when the business club underwent its big transformation. Now, it adorns the top-five of the best 18-hole courses, best facilities and best-maintained courses on the prestigious rankings of Leading

Courses. “Perfection is our calling card; on the links and far beyond. Regardless of when you decide to stop by at The Duke Club, it will always look flawless. In winter, we have a staff of eight greenkeepers. In summer, that figure rises to 12. We leave nothing to chance.” The Duke Club’s crew also approaches the act of greenkeeping from a different angle. As the team starts early in the morning, they are invisible to the members. Everything looks perfect but the players never bump into those responsible for it and never have to wait to play a hole because of them.

Michelin and Gault Millau This eye for detail is also noticeable further away from the grass. In the stunning clubhouse adjoining the greens, you

Discover Benelux  |  Dutch Golf Guide  |  The Duke Club

can dine, relax and network in a mostrelaxing setting. “The time when the future of major companies was decided on the links lies behind us. Today, prominent business people prefer to play a relaxed game of golf with their connections first and reserve the shop talk for the clubhouse. This way, they can make thorough, wise decisions in the relaxing atmosphere of the club.” Inside, members have access to plenty of facilities. Most prominent are its two gastronomical outlets: a brasserie and a fine-dining restaurant. “The former is all about great, tasty meals with crowd-pleasers like sole and tenderloin. The restaurant (which is mentioned in both the Michelin and the Gault Millau guide), on the other hand, creates unforgettable culinary experiences with lobster, caviar – the works.” Chef de cui-

sine Remco Henkes swears by French cuisine, regional classics and modern influences. “Our gastronomical style is classic but does – just like any other aspect of the club – stand out through its quality. Our kitchen is staffed with 14 amazing cooks who elevate each plate to the highest standards. Our sole goal is to delight our members with a spectacular experience and offer them a place and a community of which they can be proud.”

in, tower-high minibar prices… At The Duke Club, you don’t have to worry about any of this. You don’t have to wait for your check-in, the use of the minibar is included in the price and every one of them is beyond luxurious. Every room also comes with a private butler whose sole goal is to make your stay as pleasant as possible.” Depending on the room you opt for, you might even have a private Jacuzzi or a sauna at your disposal.

Luxurious suites with a butler and a Jacuzzi

Located centrally between Brussels, Amsterdam and Dusseldorf, The Duke Club’s suites are mainly used by members who want to offer their business partners and relations a luxurious stay when they are in the country. Nonetheless, the club also allows a limited number of outside guests to use the estate’s facilities. “We allow a selected group of avid golfers to use our top-notch greens now and then;

If you want more than an extraordinary meal and a nice game of golf, you can opt to spend the night at The Duke Club, as well. The complex counts about 20 luxurious suites in which you can fully relax. But, according to Arts, that doesn’t make it a hotel. “Spending the night in a hotel comes with a lot of annoyances. Check-

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Discover Benelux  |  Dutch Golf Guide  |  The Duke Club

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Discover Benelux  |  Dutch Golf Guide  |  The Duke Club

especially during the winter months and the summer holidays. Yet, even then, we do attract a certain clientele that appreciates the discretion and eye for detail for which we are known, and is willing to pay for that.” The restaurants, however, are always open to the public.

Striving towards perfection Despite its seemingly perfect exterior, The Duke Club is an eternal work in progress. To serve its members in the best way possible, it constantly improves its services. “In the near future, we would like to optimise our greens even further and build another 40 luxurious suites on the premises. Furthermore, we would like to start a health and wellness centre. Here, our members could relax and work on their health. Our personal trainers and nutritionists would help them to live healthily – something many successful entrepreneurs struggle with these days.” The final step of the current improvement plans would be to build a second 18-hole course, adjoined by luxurious villas and event venues. “Our ambition is to adorn the top-three of the best business clubs in Europe.”

An extended family Yet, The Duke Club is more than just an estate and a golf course. Above all, it is an extended family, your home away from home. “Our members benefit from each other; both personally and professionally. The relationships that are forged here last a lifetime.” Therefore, The Duke Club recently started to offer experiences, as well; from an exclusive car day or a concert to unforgettable, exotic travels. “What we offer is unique and exceptional in all facets of The Duke Club. In the near future we would love to take our members on a luxurious journey and host concerts of world-famous musicians on our domain, without even the neighbours knowing anything about it. No matter how famous or important you are, at The Duke Club, you can be fully relaxed and yourself. Because connecting likeminded people in a relaxed and discrete setting is what we do best.”

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Sint-Leonarduskerk. Photo: John Swinnen


The hidden pearl of Flanders TEXT: LAUREN WALKER  |  PHOTOS: ETIENNE DEVOS

Whilst exploring Belgium’s vibrant cities, people often travel to the western part of the country, visiting Bruges, which has become somewhat of a tourist trap, or the ‘Amsterdam of Belgium’, Ghent. However, there is one underrated city, located off the beaten track, surrounded by countryside, which arguably is of equal historical significance. On the eastern side of the country, between Tienen and Sint-Truiden, lies Zoutleeuw, with just 8,700 inhabitants. Although small for a city, it has a big history and is home to some extraordinary artefacts paying homage to its past. This medieval borough was once of great geographical importance, strategically 84  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

positioned on the border of the Duchy of Brabant and the Prince Diocese Liège’s estates. Zoutleeuw has been titled the ‘Art Shrine of Brabant’ because it is one of few places in Flanders which was largely untouched by the Iconoclast Revolt of 1566 and the French Revolution, meaning its cultural heritage is largely preserved. Now, the city lives up to its slogan ‘Sizzling Zoutleeuw’, catering to visitors who are interested in history and medieval art as well as nature and the great outdoors.

Medieval treasures When entering this trove deep in the Flemish Hageland, the first thing one notices is the Sint-Leonardus church’s

imposing Sint-Barbara tower, which has been included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1999. The church’s majestic lantern tower is home to the world’s oldest carillon bells. With the church’s impressive culture-patrimony largely intact, it boasts 21 artefacts, all recognised by the Flemish Government as ‘masterpieces’. One of its most renowned treasures is the Saint Sacrament tower, a magnificent 18-metre-high original stone tabernacle, which was raised in the church in 1552 and of which a replica is on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Across nine different levels, it tells the stories of the Old and New Testament in over 200 depictions.

Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Destination of the Month  |  Zoutleeuw

Other eye-catchers such as the Marianum sculpture, a 16th-century double-sided sculpture of the Virgin Mary, and the 950-kilogramme Paaskandelaar, an impressive candle holder which is the sole preserved work by Brussels artist Renier van Thienen, are part of what makes this church so extraordinary.

Glorious halls Across the ‘Grote Markt’, facing the church, stands the Town Hall, erected in the 1530s. It is a unique example of a building created during the transition between the Gothic and Renaissance styles. The town hall’s tower, with at its foot remnants of the city’s first defensive wall from the 12th century, stands alongside the protruding bluestone façade, further amplified by its ornate frame. Its grandeur only improves when entering the building, which now hosts weddings and receptions, with its magnificent interior complemented by the paintings of Maurice Langaskens, an artist from the early 20th century. Alongside this hall stands the slightly smaller but no less splendid Cloth Hall, dating back to 1317, which played a big role in the city’s growing welfare during the 14th to 15th century, when the cloth industry was booming. Although it may not be as imposing as the surrounding buildings, its white stone bricks built with quartzite never fail to catch people’s eye.

Nature’s retreat For visitors looking to combine taking in the cultural sights and art collections and enjoying the glorious surrounding countryside, the nearby Vinne nature reserve adds to Zoutleeuw’s splendour. Just two kilometres outside of the quaint city’s core lies this wonderful oasis, which contains Flanders’ largest natural inland lake, and showcases several beautiful and scenic pathways. This area, too, has an interesting history. The domain’s name refers to a fen or nat-

ural pond, which originated at this location. A charter from Duke Jan I of Brabant, dated 1278, stated that Zoutleeuw’s fen was used to excavate peat. In the 13th century, ‘Het Vinne’ was titled the ‘peat pit of Leeuw’. Until the 19th century this four-metre-deep pit was constantly under water. However, from 1841, the lake was drained with a pump, and around 1930, the area was forested with poplars to produce the famous Union Match matches. Later, in 1974, the province of Vlaams-Brabant bought the estate to create a nature reserve, to protect its flora and fauna and stimulate the growth of wildlife. This helped make it a paradise for both visitors and its inhabitants, including rabbits, mice, roe deer, squirrels and muskrats. Mostly, it is known to attract birdwatchers who come from far afield to spot the rare breeds that frequently drop in during migration. Fighter herons and red-tailed swallows have been seen flying through the reserve, whilst black headed gulls, geese and moorhens have made this Eden their home all year round. For more information and to find out more about Zoutleeuw before your trip, visit:

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  85

Discover Benelux  |  Top Flemish Travel Agencies & Tour Companies  |  Imagine Travel



No two people are the same, and neither are their dream travels. With ten years of experience behind them, the team at Imagine Travel has perfected the formula for unique trips personalised to each individual. Who are you? What are your passions? What activities do you enjoy? Do you prefer a high-paced adventure or a laid-back holiday? Culture or nature? Perhaps a mix of both? These are the kind of questions asked by the team at Imagine Travel, so it can plan a trip tailored to your unique wants and needs. “A good trip is one where you go where you want to, the way you want to and offers you unforgettable experiences,” says director Paul Ryckaseys. “We try to inspire people with our knowledge and guide them to make the right choices for their holiday.” 86  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

For those who want to explore destinations in a different way, Imagine Travel offers a selection of train trips. One of the most popular train journeys is the Trans-Siberian Railway that brings you all the way from Moscow to Vladivostok via Mongolia. “Train travel is like a cruise but on wheels. The major difference is that during a cruise you don’t see much, whereas on a train you can really see everything and discover big stretches of various landscapes.” With Imagine4Kids, the team of Imagine Travel develops tailor made holidays for families with children. “In general, these parents have already travelled quite a bit, and they think they can no longer travel like before because they want to take the children. We know that they still can! That’s where Imagine4Kids comes into play. These trips are not ‘trips for children’, but

‘trips for adults with children’, with challenges and activities for both of them.” Focusing on doing, rather than just listening, these trips aim to get families involved with the local culture. For example, going to markets with local chefs and buying ingredients for a local dish that they will then prepare together. The taste might be different from what they are used to, which could put kids off if it was just placed in front of them, but by preparing the food themselves they really enjoy it. At the same time, it’s a nice introduction to a foreign culture. No matter what kind of trip you plan, Imagine Travel will add a personal touch for you.

Photo: Grasnapolsky

Out & About Spring is in the air, which means that we are all just about ready to start venturing outdoors again – perhaps even without a scarf! Great timing, because the cultural calendar in March is filled to the brim with some great events. From opera to jazz, and from quirky festivals to Flemish cobblestones, there’s something for everyone on the programme in the Benelux this month. TEXT: MAYA WITTERS

Photo: Klarafestival

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Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar

Museumnacht. Photo: Aad Hoogendoorn

Lux Film Fest

Grasnapolsky Festival

Museumnacht 010

5-15 March, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg For its tenth edition, Lux Film Fest takes over Luxembourg City cinemas for ten days to showcase the best new films, host international guests, present readings, workshops and much more. With a whopping 190 screenings of 127 different films – from deadpan comedy to gripping documentary – everyone will find something to their taste on the programme.

6-8 March, Groningen, the Netherlands The three-day Grasnapolsky Festival combines a varied music line-up with an art and discovery programme to create a quirky, unique cocktail of entertainment. The seventh edition of the festival takes place in the former cardboard factory De Toekomst in Scheemda, near Groningen in the north of the Netherlands. Dress up warm, or simply dance until you no longer feel the cold!

7 March, Rotterdam, the Netherlands Have you always dreamed of exploring a museum in the dark? This is your chance to visit over 35 in one night – if you’re very quick, that is. Perhaps more advisable is to select one of the thematic routes prepared by the organisers of Museumnacht 010 and discover the hidden treasures of Rotterdam’s cultural institutes at a leisurely pace.

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN, Lux FilmFest. Photo: Merie Weismiller Wallace, Focus Features

Sfeer, Critic on Demand, Lux FilmFest. Photo: Dalboyne 26

Museumnacht. Photo: Aad Hoogendoorn

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Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar

Kandace Springs, Leuven Jazz. Photo: Mathieu Bitton

Affordable Art Fair. Photo: Benjamin Brolet

Moffie. Photo: Movies That Matter

TEFAF 7-15 March, Maastricht, the Netherlands The European Fine Art Fair, TEFAF for short, is one of the world’s most highly regarded fairs for fine arts, antiques and design. With everything from Old Master paintings and antiquities to contemporary art, photography and jewellery on display, there is no doubt you’ll be in for an awe-inducing afternoon of browsing.

Springbreak Jason Moran,Leuven Jazz. Photo: Clay Patrick McBride

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12-15 March, Luxembourg, Luxembourg Springbreak is the chance for Luxembourg youth – and anyone who is young at heart – to

come together and celebrate the return of the sunshine. With a varied, four-day programme of concerts, games, pop-up stores, and an enticing-sounding Urban Food Village, this is an unmissable event on the Luxembourg calendar.

Klarafestival 12-29 March, across Flanders Klarafestival hardly needs introducing: it is quite simply the biggest celebration of classical music in Belgium, and the 2020 programme boasts some great gems in particular. Admire the complete Beethoven string quartets, bask in the overwhelming glory of

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar Bruckner’s sixth symphony, or watch dancer Lisbeth Gruwez perform her choreography to the music of Claude Debussy.

Leuven Jazz 19-29 March, Leuven, Belgium Those who are more fond of brass than strings can find their fill of entertainment in Leuven this month, which hosts a jazz line-up to shout about. For this eighth edition, the organisers have chosen to focus on female artists in particular, featuring, among others, British trumpetist Laura Jurd, Belgian drummer Isolde Lasoen and Prince protégé Kandace Springs.

Affordable Art Fair 20-22 March, Brussels, Belgium The Affordable Art Fair, first held in London’s Battersea Park over 20 years ago, is now organised in ten cities around the world yearly, and Brussels is the lucky host this month. Ideal for the casual art admirer, this celebration of contemporary work is the ideal place to discover something you love in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.

Movies That Matter 20-28 March, The Hague, the Netherlands Movies That Matter recognises the power of film as a unifying force. The festival selects its programme expressly to initiate discussions about human rights, sustainability and the fight against injustice. The non-profit organisation also offers context and teaching materials for all its films to stimulate a balanced perspective. Worth going to the cinema for!

Gent-Wevelgem 29 March, Gent, Belgium Gent-Wevelgem is one of the prime events on the Flanders Classics cycling calendar. Local fans will be out in full force to support competitors, but this is also the ideal race to attend for tourists hoping to learn more about Belgian culture and history: the course passes many important WWI locations, which you can visit as you cheer on the cyclists.

The Great Green Wall. Photo: Movies That Matter

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Art, life and medicine over the centuries at Lessines TEXT: EDDI FIEGEL  |  PHOTOS: NOTRE-DAME À LA ROSE

The small town of Lessines, just an hour’s drive south-west of Brussels may not be well known internationally, but to many of those in-the-know, it is renowned as home to one of Belgium’s most impressive heritage sites.

buildings we see today date from between the 16th and 18th centuries. Arranged around a central cloistered quadrangle and an internal garden, the buildings’ architecture includes examples of not only Gothic and Renaissance but also Baroque.

“It’s also very special to be able to understand the life of the nuns and medical practitioners who lived at the convent hospital and gain an insight into the spiritual and physical suffering of their communities over the years.

The Notre-Dame à la Rose Hospital dates back to 1242 and is one of the oldest hospitals in Europe. It is also one of the last surviving examples of a medieval hospital which for centuries operated as an entirely self-sufficient estate with its own farm and kitchen garden, cold storage facility and cemetery.

As well as its architecture, Notre-Dame à la Rose is also home to an extraordinary permanent collection of art and medical artefacts spanning several centuries.

“Our collections can be seen as a history of western beliefs through the ages, but for me, what is really unique about the Hospital is that it brings together science, religion, humanism, suffering, charity, spirituality and, above all, hope.”

For some 750 years, the building was home to a charitably–run, convent hospital servicing the local community and the 92  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

“It’s very rare,” begins Raphael Debruyn, curator at Notre-Dame à la Rose Hospital, “to find a place where you can trace the evolution of our approach to life – both physical and spiritual, with original artefacts and objects still in their original surroundings.

Art collection The Hospital’s impressive art collection contains several thousand works ranging from religious paintings on both wood and canvas from the 15th to 20th

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Notre-Dame à la Rose

centuries, as well as statues from the 14th and 15th centuries, to Gothic and Renaissance furniture and Regency and Baroque woodwork. The collection also contains more than 40 pieces of hand-crafted silverware, both secular and religious, as well as remarkable artefacts from everyday life from crystalware, porcelain, brass and pewter to lace and textiles.

Medical collection Notre-Dame à la Rose also has three rooms dedicated to its remarkable collection of medical and pharmaceutical objects including a rare collection of surgical instruments. These provide an exceptional insight into the treatments and care offered to patients over the centuries, as well as the evolution of surgical and operative techniques. The hospital’s pharmacy continued in operation up until the 1940s and the collection also contains storage pots, flasks and pestles and mortars from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as the original 19th-century pharmacy furniture. The Hospital also holds regular temporary exhibitions.

The Cloisters With its amazingly unified closed arcades built in white sandstone and plastered brickwork around a central garden, you would never guess that its construction spanned the course of 400 years, from the 13th to the 17th centuries.

“The serenity emanating from the cloister and its garden,” continues Debruyn, “reminds us that this was a place for prayer, meditation and communication for the religious community. It was a secluded space reserved for the sisters. The cloister evokes isolation and detachment, but thanks to its garden, it is also in contact with the sky.”

The garden area also includes an original cold-storage building or ‘icehouse’. In the days pre-electrical refrigeration, ice obtained from the river during winter could be stored for use in poultices and cold compresses, whilst meats could be kept at cool temperatures during the summer. The icehouse was still in use during World War I.


A series of classical concerts are also held during the summer months featuring musicians whose work chimes with the contemplative nature of the building and grounds. The Museum shop, meanwhile, has a quality selection of gifts and souvenirs.

The medicinal plant garden still adheres to the medieval concept of the ‘herbularius’ or herb garden with a varied crop of plants and herbs commonly used to treat disease and infection from the eighth century onwards, including rosemary, dill, fennel, mint, parsley, rose, catnip and lovage.

Concerts and Museum shop

Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  93

Bitterballen. Photo: Pixabay

Ten of the Tastiest Dutch Snack Foods TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK

The Netherlands boasts a wide variety of exceptional gourmet delicacies such as oysters from Zeeland, Texel lamb and asparagus from Limburg, to name a few. While they are certainly earning the country its long-deserved culinary esteem, there’s no denying that the love for snacks foods is intrinsically woven into Dutch culture just as much as tulips, clogs and cheese. Just ask the tourists ordering plate-sized stroopwafels at the markets or attempting to bite into dangerously hot bitterballen at the pubs. Here are the top ten snack foods you won’t want to miss the next time you visit the country.

1. Bitterballen

2. Poffertjes

The most popular of pub snacks, and one that always hits the spot, is the irresistible bitterbal, which should come with a word of warning. The deep-fried, ragout-filled meatballs are wickedly hot on the inside. Dip each crisp little ball in the side of tangy mustard provided and proceed with care! Bitterballen were invented by the Spanish during the Eighty Years’ War. Far from home and craving their tapas, they came up with a recipe consisting of leftover meat mixed with eggs and flour. There’s nothing ‘bitter’ about bitterballen. They were usually enjoyed with a tipple (bittertje), hence their name.

Ask any Dutch child what their favourite snack is and they may just mention poffertjes. Shaped like fluffy miniature pancakes, poffertjes are usually purchased at a special stand known as a ‘poffertjeskraam’, but are also available in many restaurants as part of the children’s menu. They are prepared in a special cast-iron pan with small indentations and served hot with generous amounts of butter and icing sugar. Ready-made poffertjes, which can be warmed in the microwave, are available at supermarkets, but they are never as good as when freshly baked.

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Poffertjes. Photo: NBTC Holland Media Bank

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Ten of the Tastiest Dutch Snack Foods

3. Osseworst No trip to Amsterdam would be complete without sampling the city’s famous osseworst. Made from lean, coarsely minced beef mixed with warm spices such as cloves, nutmeg and mace, the raw sausage can be eaten as a snack with pickled onions, gherkins and mustard, or stuffed into a soft white roll. The original recipe dates to the 17th century when it was made with ox meat and spices brought over from the Dutch East Indies. Back then it was lightly smoked as a means of preservation, but today it is mostly available fresh.

Osseworst. Photo: Paola Westbeek

4. Stroopwafel

Rookworst. Photo: Hans Westbeek

The history of the stroopwafel originates in Gouda at the beginning of the 19th century when a frugal baker created a thin wafer made of crumbs, leftover dough and syrup. Because it was inexpensive and filling, it was known as the ‘pastry of the poor’. During the course of the 20th century, they were offered at delicatessens in major cities. The popularity of stroopwafels soared in the 1960s, prompting bakers to come up with the ingenious idea of selling them at market stalls all over the country. Today, approximately 300 million warm, gooey stroopwafels are consumed annually in the Netherlands.

Stroopwafels. Photo: Hans Westbeek

5. Rookworst Thick, juicy and delicately spiced, rookworst was first mentioned in Dutch cookbooks of the 18th century. Precise instructions were given on how to smoke the sausages by the fireplace or in special smoking rooms using oak or beech wood. Gelderland had the largest supply of these types of wood, so logically, the province became the country’s smoked sausage leader. Rookworst was popular during the Second World War when they were mostly made from waste products. These days, however, rookworst is made of pork, beef or chicken, and there are even vegetarian versions!

6. Kibbeling

Kibbeling. Photo: Janericloebe

Bite into a piece of tender kibbeling and your taste buds will swoon, especially when the golden nuggets are dipped into the tangy rémouladesaus (a mayonnaise-based sauce with capers and herbs such as tarragon and parsley) served on the side. Flaky on the inside and exceptionally crisp on the outside, the chunks of fried fish were first served in the IJmuiden, once the country’s largest fishing port. Originally, they were made with cod cheeks, which today is usually replaced by the cheaper pollock. This much-loved street food is best savoured with an icecold beer or a glass of chilled white wine. Issue 75  |  March 2020  |  95

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Ten of the Tastiest Dutch Snack Foods

7. Kroket Approximately three hundred million kroketten are consumed in the Netherlands on a yearly basis. Roughly, that’s 25 per person annually. Interestingly, the kroket is not Dutch in origin, but French. A recipe for the first ‘croquet’ can be found in the French cookbook Le Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois (1705). In the Netherlands, the first recipes date to the middle of the 19th century. Initially considered a posh food, it was after the Van Dobben eatery in Amsterdam sold their first kroket on 28 June in 1945, that they became the snack food we now know and love.

Ktroket. Photo: Pixabay

8. Raw herring

Herring. Photo: NBTC Holland Media Bank

The Dutch are fiercely proud of their herring. Foreigners visiting the Netherlands are often taken to a herring stand to experience what can literally be described as a taste of Dutch culture. If they dare, that is, because let’s face it, not everyone is willing to grab the raw, slippery fish by the tail, dip it in onions, tilt their head back and bite. Yet for many Dutch, herring is something they grew up with. This year, the much-anticipated event known as Vlaggetjesdag (the start of herring season) will be celebrated on 13 June in Scheveningen.

9. Frikandel Love it or hate it, the hot-dog-shaped sausage known as frikandel is a staple at Dutch snack bars across the country. Recipes for a meatball called ‘frikadil’ were already around in the 17th century, but the variation we know today was invented in the town of Dordrecht in 1954, when a butcher by the name of Gerrit de Vries gave the meatball a cylindrical shape.Frikandel is made from pork, chicken, beef and sometimes horse meat. The most popular way to enjoy it is a ‘frikandel speciaal’: split open and filled with curry ketchup, mayonnaise and finely chopped onions.

Patat’ or ‘friet’. Photo: Paola Westbeek

10. Patat… or friet

Frikandel. Photo:

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Whether you live in the north of the country and call it ‘patat’ or in the south and refer to it as ‘friet’, one thing is certain: nothing beats a cone of golden, thick-cut chips served piping hot and topped with blobs of mayonnaise. Street food at its best, they are usually eaten on the go and are probably the first treat tourists indulge in when they arrive in Amsterdam, judging by the queues outside one of the city’s most popular chips stands. You can also order them with minced onions, peanut sauce and mayonnaise, known as ‘patatje oorlog’ or ‘war fries’.

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Columns


Van Eyck: A rare genius

Secondly, this is a chance to see one of Van Eyck’s major works like never before – up close and personal. The Ghent Altarpiece, Van Eyck’s most famous work, will be presented in full, and at eye level for a chance to see the painstaking detail and luminous colour. If you still think I’m guilty of overhyping, then the Museum of Fine Arts itself will persuade you otherwise. To cope with unprecedented demand, it has made arrangements to remain open to visitors an extra two days, to be open seven days a week. So visit as soon as you can! Van Eyck: An Optical Revolution is on show at the Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent until 30 April 2020, and is part of the city of Ghent’s OMG! Van Eyck was here programme.

Many people in our amplified click-bait world are guilty of hyperbole (myself included). Of overstating, exaggerating and exclaiming to grab a moment’s worth of attention. It’s a contemporary trait that we need to work hard at eradicating. That being said…

Van Eyck: An Optical Revolution at the Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent is a must-see, once in a lifetime exhibition that you cannot miss. It is the biggest show in Belgium, the Benelux and Europe. Now that might sound like I am getting carried away, but for a number of very good reasons, I am not. Firstly, there are only 20 verified Van Eyck works preserved worldwide. And incredibly, more than half of them will be on display here. Imagine trying to get half of the world’s Hockney’s or Warhol’s in the same place! Their rarity only adds to the allure of this genial painter.


Jan van Eyck, Portrait of a Man with a Blue Chaperon, Oil on panel, 22 x 17 cm. Photo: Courtesy of MSK, Ghent and Muzeul National Brukenthal, Sibiu, Romania

Matt Antoniak is a visual artist and writer living and working in Newcastle, UK. He works mainly in painting and drawing and is a founding member of the art collective M I L K.



This Belgian dark beer is a classic strong brown ale. The style of beer was originally brewed by monks in the abbey at Westmalle in 1865 using double the quantity of ingredients used to make the regular table ale, hence its name. The recipe was changed in 1926, again doubling the ingredients in response to increased demand for strong, malty beers. Aficionados regard Westmalle Dubbel highly. It is brewed approximately 22 kilometres northeast of Antwerp within the walls of an abbey whose full name, the Abdij Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van het Heilig Hart van Jezus, trips easily off few non-native tongues. Founded back in 1794, the Cistercian community was granted abbey status in 1836. Income from brewing pays for the upkeep of the abbey and is donated to charity. 98  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

Mahogany in colour, Westmalle Dubbel froths into a fawn head when poured, normally into a goblet-style glass. It has a malty aroma and initially tastes relatively sweet, though the flavour rounds and softens while it’s held in the mouth. The finish is mild. Full-bodied, this is a particularly satisfying beer to savour on cool evenings. It’s easy to sip Westmalle Dubbel without accompanying food yet it pairs well with a good stew; try it with rabbit and prune or slow-cooked beef. This particular beer continues to define the dubbel style. Bottle reconditioning means the beer continues to ferment even while it’s in storage. It’s worth trying the 33 centilitre and 75 centilitre bottles side by side to compare the differences. Brewer: Westmalle Brewery Alcohol content: 7.0 per cent

Stuart Forster was named Journalist of the Year at the 2015, 2016 and 2019 Holland Press Awards. Five generations of his family have been actively involved in the brewing industry.