Pieter Aalbers and Adriaan Derksen are the ‘gatekeepers’ of de Mariënhof. This entrepreneur tandem from Baarn got the keys in mid-2014 and transformed this stunningly beautiful building on the skirts of the Amersfoort inner city into a successful meeting-, seminar-, and event-location. And they reciprocate to the city by developing local activities, and by hosting projects. It’s a job that comes with honour, as the Mariënhof has an age-old, proud history.
In the past it housed, among other things, a religious order, a public orphanage, and a laureled restaurant. Granting all due respect to the past, Aalbers and Derksen are continuing in their own particular way. With their famed motto ‘to have the old, means to share the new’ as a guideline, they’re giving the Mariënhof back to the city.
‘This building belongs to all people in Amersfoort’, says Aalbers, who also runs the similarly historical mint in Utrecht with Derksen. ‘We’ve resuscitated it. We’d like to add a nice new chapter to its history. I often say: we don’t sell venues, but the story of the Mariënhof.’
In the meantime, the Mariënhof has welcomed wine bar Zuster Margaux on its premises, run by enologist Eline Groenendijk, the studio of artist Norbertus, and friends Carmen and Cesare that bake and serve a variety of sweet and savoury pies at their establishment Buuf in de Serre. The walls of the ancient hallways are adorned with art of frequently Amersfoort origins. And did we really hear that? A musical composition made of sounds and voices from past, present and future resounds. It is ‘sound perfume’ composed specifically for the Mariënhof, explains Aalbers. ‘We want to surprise, connect, and care.’
The care Aalbers, Derksen, and their team provide consists of the comprehensive organisation and assistance for meetings, seminars, events, product presentations, receptions, and other professional meetings for companies and organisations. The location is well liked by professional users, which, considering the historical setting, the parking facilities, and its position near the highway, is hardly surprising. Aalbers: ‘We’ve counted 12,000 footsteps in 2014, and we’re going to a minimum of 30,000 footsteps in 2016’.