A passion for travelling and discovering new cultures is something we share with the family Van Vlisteren, who manage the luxury four-star hotel The Wilmersberg. Also known as the country estate of eastern Holland. The charming couple Boudewijn and Githa, both gained extensive expertise in marketing and hospitality in previous occupations. With their family they moved from the bustling Amsterdam to the rural and quiet region of Twente in 2011. Settling in the tiny village of De Lutte which is close to the border between the Netherlands and Germany just a short drive from the A1 Highway leading to Amsterdam. Compared to most parts of the Netherlands, this part of the country is a rather hilly area, so you must make a small climb occasionally. The hills are moraines created by the last ice age and are responsible this atypical landscape.
Prior to their relocation they made a small world trip with their three children visiting places such as New Zealand, Australia, Bali and Hong Kong. This ‘ones in a lifetime trip’ as they call it, further fueled their vision and inspiration for their steps towards managing their own hotel.
And although they do not actually own the 14-hectare property themselves (it belongs to a well-known and respected local entrepreneur) they really gave this beautiful estate a very distinctive touch. That our visit coincidences with one of the very first real spring-weather weekends, is certainly the first positive sign.
So, the weather is wonderful as we leave the main road on to a very narrow road that supposedly leads to The Wilmersberg. The girls are excited and stretch their necks in a race who first glimpses the hotel. And there it is: the setting of this former residence of a textile family is gorgeous. Hotel The Wilmersberg resembles an English-style country house hotel with a lovely terrace overlooking the woodland-bordered fields. A few birds join us in celebrating our weekend. It all exudes a spirit of total peace and true pastoral lifestyle.
The welcome is attentive and personal. As we check in, we are served a special tea made from rose petals and for the girls there is lemonade. Our room for the weekend is one of the Royal Family Suites just opposite the indoor swimming pool. Having seen that, the girls rush into their swim gear and make it for the refreshing waters as we further explore our den. The suite consists of one big sleeping and living area. An extra bed for the girls is made of the folding sofa and for us there is a heavenly king size bed. The bathroom with whirlpool also, has a separate shower, floor heating and separate toilet. We are also very pleased with the modern and slightly arty décor. Bright colours and nice wall paper add to that feeling. Huge windows offer a panorama of fields full of spring flowers and compact bushes with blossoming trees. In no time we open the sliding doors to the terrace and enjoy a fresh cup of coffee from the Nespresso machine which we also find in the room.
Besides the Royal Family Suites, you can chose for the Royale estate rooms, Junior suites and so called ‘Small rooms’. Obviously, they vary in size. The last mentioned are indeed small and compact and do not really cater for families. On the other hand, the Royale estate rooms are of a reasonable size with 35 m2 and 8 of them can be connected; making up for an ideal family room. In all the rooms, except for the small rooms, one extra bed and/or cot can be added. All the necessary amenities are there but do not expect extreme luxury or over the top bling bling. The style is more contemporary rustic, but all is very well done and of high quality.
Often country hotels tend to overemphasize the local heritage and traditional building style, resulting in sometimes an interior that more resembles an antique shop or museum than a comfortable hotel. This is not the case at The Wilmersberg. Under the direction of a professional interior designer the public spaces where transformed into a beautiful design mix that wouldn’t be out of place in one of the trendy design magazines. But again, this is not overdone, so it still feels very welcoming and almost homely. The lounge is a real masterpiece; almost everywhere trendy furniture smartly grouped in an intimate setting that calls for long evenings beside a roaring fire place immersed in a stack of books. And of course, sample one or two wines from the elaborate wine list. All of this in the reassuring knowledge that the kids are vast a sleep safely monitored by the baby monitor system.
So here you’ll find a perfect family hotel. As the estate is rather in a somewhat isolate setting there is lots of space for the kids to roam around on their own. The only hazard may come from the occasionally fast riding cyclist, but in general they can go their own way. A nice touch is the treasure hunt that is laid out in the gardens and scrubs around the hotel. With damp weather, you might put on a pair of boots the hotel offers at the entrance. The treasure hunt is a wonderful way to explore the surroundings as a family, especially suited for the little ones. Even with our slightly older girls we spend a leisurely hour following the instructions and solving puzzles. While with every step the view onto the hotel gets better and better.
We already mentioned the indoor pool, not only great for cold and rainy days (and they are abandoned in the Netherlands) but it also boasts an outside terrace. So, if the sun comes out, parents can read a book and simultaneously work on their tan while the children splash around in the pool.
If the young ones still have energy left, there are more things to do outside. In a somewhat hidden corner of the garden there is a big trampoline. Again, very thoughtful as it does not too much intrude on the other guest. As this is surely a family destination it is also in high demand among couples searching for a please to relax and recharge. In large baskets you will find all kinds of toys linger around to play with as well as boots in all sizes when the weather isn’t so perfect.
Why not have a family soccer tournament? Beside this, do not expect extensive facilities or a full blown kidsclub. No, at The Wilmersberg it is much more low key, but in a very nice way. Think of a visit to a very well to do family member who is so kind to lend you his country house for a few days. And let’s not forget: with that house also come two all-weather tennis courts which you can use for free. We collect tennis rackets and balls at the reception and have a sporty time.
Do not get intimidated by our drive to explore everything that is on offer at The Wilmersberg. If you just feel like lingering around at the estate not doing too much, we certainly recommend you check out the totally renovated spa that offers a wide range of treatments and products. Don’t forget to bring your children if you feel to it; it’s not that often children are allowed in a spa and the hotel did a wonderful job in designing it. A delightful place to really unwind and get away from it all.
Totally exhausted after a day full of adventure we have a nightcap in the lounge and retreat to our suite. The girls are already in a deep dreamless sleep and we follow soon. Next morning we awake as the accumulation sounds from the birds and hens outside reach a certain threshold. We must hurry a little to be on time for breakfast; boy, are we glad we did! The first meal of the day appears to be a culinary feast. After finding a nice place in the restaurant, we explore the baffling buffet. We especially enjoy all the local products, fresh juices and evenly fresh assortment of breads. After finishing, the girls return to the trampoline while we have another coffee out on the grass sampling the gorgeous morning sun.
When it comes to culinary delights The Wilmersberg has more tricks on its sleeve than only breakfast. For example, every Saturday a wine tasting takes place. We just arrive from a cycle tour (the hotel can arrange rental bikes for both adults and children), as a group of guests and locals gather on the lawn to sample some excellent wines accompanied by the enthusiastic explanations of the resident sommelier. In the case of foul weather, the event commences in the lounge.
Surprisingly as it might be, but this event is free for hotel guest. Actually, The Wilmersberg has its own vineyard and works in close harmony with the Hof van Twente, a truly great winemaker in Twente. Unfortunately, we have to forgo on this feast but luckily we get another chance at diner. A family visit is pre-arranged and our daughters are the first to welcome their grandparents Geeske and Fred. The estate is well-known in the area and they are just as eager to come as we were.
We settle on the outside terrace where smartly covered tables make up one of the most inviting al fresco dining places we have ever encountered. Chef Ronald Bor and his team are known for their innovative cuisine. The restaurant concept they created, is called ‘Wining & Dining’. This means that in addition to the best dishes, you can also choose between approximately 25 distinct types of excellent wines by the glass. We enjoy the four-course surprise menu which pushes all the right culinary buttons. And for the girls the team just as easily arranged some nice chicken tenders with French Fries and vegetables. But the highlight for them is the mouse in dark and white chocolate. As with the rest of the hotel, the restaurant is professional but has at the same time a relaxed setup. There is even a new playroom for children close to the restaurant. So, parents can really take time for diner while their children work on a joined Lego project or enjoy a kid’s movie.
The beautiful landscape of the region Twente offers a lot of activities. For example, if you are in to golf the hotel has excellent connections with several Golf clubs. Guests can play on these beautiful members-only courses. Without being a club member, you can still practice all your swings. As for a daytrip we really recommend a visit to the picturesque town of Ootmarsum.
We head to the nearby park and lake "The Hulsbeek" which offers a swim lake, nice sand beach some restaurants and, as a real bonus, you can rent all kind of watersport equipment such as canoes. If you are more into hiking, horse riding or cycling the hotel can provide you with maps a real insider tips of where to go and what to explore. The different trails facilitate trips ranging from only a few kilometres in length up to 40 kilometres. You can pick a challenge as big or as small as you can handle. Along the trails and at many of the historical monuments, there are pancake restaurants and ice cream vendors in summer. If you watch carefully while touring, you will undoubtedly spot frogs, vipers, hobbies, hen harriers, great grey shrikes or purple moor grass. The most unusual flora is found in the swampy stream valleys and bogs where the peat is almost five meters thick.
Especially if you are a history buff, you are more than spoiled staying at The Wilmersberg. As the site is very rich in history. Dating all the way back to the early medieval times. In 804 Charlemagne donated the estate Nijenhuss, together with five other farmsteads nearby, to the Abbey in Werden on the Ruhr in order to contribute to the costs of educating missionaries. In Twente it was tradition to name areas after the families who lived there or after the professions they carried out. So, it is most likely that 't Nije Huss was occupied by a family named Nijhuis. In later years the name turned to The Wilmersberg but its origin lays at last in the times of the great Charlemagne. King of the Franks from and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.
Besides you may be interested in the history of the nearby Bentheim Castle, an early medieval hill castle in Germany. The castle is still owned by the Prince of Bentheim-Steinfurt. It is home to some of his siblings and is also open to the public as a family museum. Definitely worth a visit, not just for some nice drone-videos.
# A perfect getaway for an (multi-generational) family since its great for children and parents. Our kids have a splendid time and enjoy the pool, spa, kids room, tennis courts and trampoline! The restaurant is well-known in the region and the large outdoor patio had sunlight till late in the afternoon and is the perfect place for a nice cocktail and some bytes while the kids play hide and seek in the gardens.
# The region of Twente is one of the most remarkable areas in the Netherlands. Enjoy it in the way all locals do: by bike.
# Boudewijn and Githa embody hospitality. Together with their enthusiastic team they really make you feel a highly valued guest and a temporarily part of their family. All the staff are very helpful and nice. It's the perfect place to go away from the city in the Netherlands and to get away of all the stress in daily life.