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Buitenplaats de Bergse Bossen
A unique history
Right after the Second World War, the National Federation of Christian Trade Unions in the Netherlands (the CNV) decided to set up a holiday centre for its members in Driebergen. The construction of this centre has been paid for by the members in 1948. They literally saved up by contributing with their own spare change! This centre (called 'De Zandkuil’ or ‘the sand drift'), was originally intended as a conference venue for the union, but later on it also served as a meeting place for young people. Van Baren's attempt to organise young workers was both innovative and successful. Its success ultimately gave rise to the opening of a holiday resort called 'Our Centre'.
Our Centre prized itself on its informal, welcoming atmosphere, which included a dormitory and laundry room, surrounded by forests and with a cosy open fireplace. The centre was intended primarily for union members and had only 40 beds. The centre organised and ran activities and held discussions on relevant topics. There was also a camp library. Members needed to bring their own sheets and could hire blankets for 1 guilder each per week. Families of the members were also welcome, and over time, visitor numbers increased.
Though the union had originally raised the funds to build the Centre, the running costs had to be subsidised in part by the revenue collected from the participants during the ‘holiday weeks.’ Our Centre was not to impose a lasting burden on the union's finances, and so the various union departments asked their members for a weekly voluntary contribution. Thousands of members were willing to pay into the 'two cents a week fund' to support their 'own' holiday resort. In 1951, the union was also able to purchase five hectares of forest, increasing the total area of the grounds. The centre was expanded to include more beds, cottages and a recreation room.
Plenty of activities were still run by the CNV, and those in the summer holidays were particularly well attended. On average, there were two hundred guests per week, including many young people. The centre developed its own characteristic, unique atmosphere. Many guests made an annual pilgrimage to the holiday venue in Driebergen, and more and more meetings, training sessions and courses were organised as part of the union movement.
In 1969, Our Centre laid the foundation stone for the construction of improved accommodation. While the original guests during the foundation years were satisfied with 4-person cottages and 20-person dormitories, there was increasing demand for more luxurious 1-person and 2-person hotel rooms. The demand for conference rooms was enormous. More extensions and renovations followed almost annually, and occupancy rates remained high.
The wind changed in the late 1980s, when more and more union courses and training activities were held in the subsidised SBI centre in Doorn instead. The trade unions started holding meetings in their own offices, and union activities in Our Centre dwindled to 10% of total occupancy. In the end, it turned out that there was still a future for Our Centre, but it would require sweeping changes in organisational structure and facilities.
Hotel & Congrescentrum de Bergse Bossen
The newly conceptualised centre opened in 2000 as Hotel & Congress Centre de Bergse Bossen. There was a major focus on improving the look & feel of the accommodation as a whole, and the hotel's visibility to passers-by was also increased. At that time, 74 hotel rooms were available 7 days a week for conference visitors, hotel guests and holidaymakers. New extensions were added, such as the restaurant and the opening of the Grand Café.
Fine’s Buitenplaats de Bergse Bossen
On 18 November 2019, hotel de Bergse Bossen became part of Corina Waaijer's Fine Hotels & Suites. Looking ahead, Fine Hotels & Suites sees great opportunities for making Bergse Bossen even more personal, intimate and high quality. A place where guests can leave the office behind, where inspiration abounds and where every need is met. A genuine country retreat, which is why this fine hotel is now called: Buitenplaats de Bergse Bossen. At Fine Hotels & Suites, we are extremely proud to add Bergse Bossen to our collection.