Sunday, March 29th 2020.


Karin de Graauw
A report from the NBTC Educational Tour


By Karin de Graauw


Gelderland is a part of the Netherlands that doesn’t exactly ring many bells. It’s the country’s biggest province though. It’s also home to three important cities. Arnhem is the modern and trendy capital. Nijmegen is Holland’s oldest city and has a beautiful historic center.

Apeldoorn is the greenest of the three and acted as a second home to many members of the Dutch royal family. Large parts of Gelderland are full of natural beauty. The Veluwe, the biggest national park in Holland, is an important attraction for the region.

We were invited by the Dutch Bureau for Tourism & Conventions ( to discover what is said to be the friendliest, most peaceful and prettiest part of the country.

History, sports and fine dining

It was a dreary Antwerp Friday morning on the 24th of September when we got on our bus. Luckily for us, most of the rest of the weekend would prove to be much sunnier. It was a small but pleasant group of people: Geert De Thaye of De Buck Incentives, Dorien Driesen & Céline De Geest of Uniglobe Incentive Travel, Chantal Quirijnen & Udo Wargnies of De Boeck Events, Anne-Marie De Vos of Norbert Dentressangle, Lidy Wauters of Intersystems Benelux, Jonathan Ramael of MIM Magazine and of course An Van de Steen and Pauline van Kooten of the Belgian office of the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions (NBTC).


Gelderland Gelderland
The Wijnfort


Less than two hours of driving later, we were already at our first location: the Wijnfort ( This restaurant and events venue is located in an old World War II bunker, which is quite unique. After our visit and our first delicious meal of the day, we were greeted by a group of jolly war veterans. They took us for a ride on the “Liberation Route” in their beautiful but shaky army jeeps. The allied forces used this path 65 years ago to liberate Holland from the Germans. Next to these roads, 23 listening stones can be found, where you can hear stories about this courageous event.


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Dorien Driesen & Céline De Geest of Uniglobe Incentive Travel enjoying the ride on the Liberation Route


After our rough but enjoyable drive, we arrived at the Papendal Hotel & Congress Centre, where we played a round of golf, and got introduced to wheelchair basketball ( Yes you read it well, wheelchair basketball, a great team-building activity and eye-opener at the same time.


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A round of golf at the Papendal Hotel & Congress Centre

All these physical activities were quite tiring, so it was time for us to have dinner at Landgoed Groot Warnsborn ( This is a restaurant, hotel and events venue all in one, on a big domain with lots of greenery. The restaurant is located in a beautiful old country house, but the interior looked quite stylish and modern. We had a superb three course dinner. People in Gelderland sure know how to cook. Every dish served to us throughout the weekend was mouth-watering.

After our dinner we checked out the other buildings, like the beautifully restored orangery, where wedding parties and meetings can be held. After a final cup of coffee, it was time for us to move to the hotel where we would spend the night. This was the brand new and very trendy Van Der Valk Duiven Hotel in Arnhem (, with modern and extremely spacious rooms.


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The brand new Van der Valk Duiven hotel in Arnhem


Nobility and nature

GelderlandThe second day was quite diverse. We were going to explore parts of The Hoge Veluwe National Park and get an impression of the local wildlife ( But first we would visit some other locations, like the new Omnisport complex in Apeldoorn. This hall is used for track cycling, athletics and other indoor sports, but is just as well suited for business meetings and large events for over 10,000 people. (

GelderlandIn Apeldoorn we also visited one of my personal highlights of the trip: the magnificent Paleis Het Loo ( This palace is more than 300 years old and was home to many of Holland’s royalty. It’s now a museum, located in the midst of beautifully designed and maintained gardens. We took a tour through the main rooms, where all of the original furniture was still on display. It was luxurious, colorful and simply gorgeous. I wouldn’t have mind walking through the baroque hallways for a bit longer. We had coffee with cake in the grand ballroom, which can be rented for parties and events at a reasonable price as an event venue.

From royalty to wild animals

Gelderland Gelderland Gelderland

That was our schedule. National Park De Hoge Veluwe is part of a more than 1,000 km² big piece of land, full of thick forests, windy plains and everything in between. It’s home to wild boars, muflon sheep and several species of deer. We got on one of the bikes you are free to use throughout the park and took off on a pleasant biking trip. In fear of someone getting a heart attack, we decided to rest for a bit and have a nice picnic provided by the people of the Sterrenberg Boutique Hotel ( This gave us the strength to carry on and visit the St. Hubertus Hunting Lodge ( The explanation of the guide was a bit too long, and the style of the Lodge not really our taste.  Luckily this was followed by the famous Kröller-Müller Museum (, where a fine collection of famous paintings is on permanent display.
As evening was closing in on us, we were invited to watch the great red deer burl (which is the sound the male makes when he wants to impress the ladies). Many people seemed to have the same idea though, so when we arrived at the place of interest, there was already a big crowd awaiting the spectacle. Although it wasn’t as exclusive as we thought it would be, it was still an impressive thing to watch.

We would eat and spend the night at Hotel Oranjeoord ( Another splendid dinner with great wines was served to us in this comfortable (yes, it’s now official, one can eat very well in the Netherlands), homely hotel with its friendly owner. The bedrooms aren’t too big and rather sober. But the rest of the hotel is very nicely designed, open, lots of space and the service was very friendly and very personal. It also offers a lot of meeting possibilities in multiple conference rooms.

Foot massages and fierce birds

Foot massageOn our third day, it was time for some well-earned wellness. So after a relaxing stroll through the center of Nijmegen, we visited the Scandic Sanadome (, both a meeting hotel and a health spa. Here, you can hold a meeting in one of the many conference rooms and relax at the same time. Which we were about to find out when we got a complimentary foot massage from the staff. After this joyous moment of relaxation, we were heading for our final stop of the weekend: Landgoed Jachtslot De Mookerheide (, located on another wooded domain. We met a falconer and its birds of prey.

The falconer can be hired for incentives and parties, where he will Gelderlandshow you what his profession is all about ( After our last delicious meal we visited the conference rooms, which were all in pristine condition and very inventively decorated in stable style. De Mookerheide was named in the top three Dutch business training locations for the third year in a row.

Gelderland is a beautiful region with lots to offer. One can hold a quiet, peaceful but varied break here and enjoy the delicious food and wines (We found the quality of the food on a higher standard then in the rest of the Netherlands. It’s surely up to Belgian standards.), or visit museums, cities and nature. It’s also very well suited for business purposes and incentive trips. The hotels and venues we visited were only a small fraction of all available locations.

I would like to thank the NBTC for a lovely and interesting weekend, and our local hosts Marie-Louise Buckens - Convention Bureau Regio Arnhem Nijmegen and Dagmar Kroezen - Veluws Bureau voor Toerisme for their personal and professional approach, which made our stay an even better one.


Contact Info:

Veluws Bureau voor Toerisme - Dagmar Kroezen

Convention Bureau Regio Arnhem Nijmegen - Marie-Louise Buckens

NBTC - Netherlands Bureau for Tourism & Conventions Belgian Office - Pauline van Kooten

With a special thanks to Geert De Thaye for providing the pictures of the trip.


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