- publication: 19 September 2019
Discovering the Vegotel: a pioneer B&B committed to sustainability
Friday afternoon 13 September 2019 Elena and Lucia went to visit Henk and Nazma, owner-managers of the Vegotel in Blije.
The warm welcoming started at the Blije bus stop where Henk was ready to meet and greet Elena and Lucia to then lead them to his Vegotel on the border of the Wadden sea. The concept of the Vegotel is as simple as innovative in the hospitality industry: it serves only vegan food and it is furnished with beautifully restored and up-cycled furniture. Moreover the Vegotel uses renewable energy produced by van de Bron, a Dutch energy provider that only provides wind and solar energy.
The idea underpinning this small facility is pioneering: inviting people to experience a full immersion in an alternative, sustainable way of living made of vegan breakfast, vegan snacks, and no Wi-Fi, in a peaceful atmosphere, surrounded by the beauty of the landscape. Henk and Nazma welcome their hosts explaining that in the Vegotel everything is vegan so it is not allowed to bring in not vegan food. Guests sometimes react with surprise, particularly when they have booked via Booking.com and not via dedicated websites such as Happycow, Veggie-hotels and Ecobnb, yet all of them accept and often embrace the vegan concept. Henk told that some guests were perplex at the arrival, but – once understood the concept – became actually curious to try the experience that often turned out to be rewarding and engaging also for the ‘neophytes’ of the veganism. The list of positive appreciations written in the guest book proofs the Henk and Nazma’s capacity to provide their guests with an unforgettable experience.
Henk has a wide professional background, an entrepreneurial vision, and strong personal motivations. He aims at promoting a transformative experience and is keen to explain the reasons of their choice: make people understanding that – more than ever in this historical moment - personal choices matter since sustainability is not anymore an option, it is the only way. Food, and specifically meat, are the main contributors to greenhouse gasses emissions. Most people, Henk explained, are not yet ready to let go of the 'meat taste' and have to be enticed into eating vegan. Therefore Henk and Nazma invite their guests to enjoy a wide selection of top products that taste like meat and cheese but are actually 100% vegan. Elena and Lucia where invited to try a vegan English breakfast made of fried eggs, bacon and sausages next to the normal breakfast including sliced cheese, salami, paté, and butter…all vegan. The experience turned to be really amazing since for some of these products would have been difficult to guess they were not the ‘real’ ones.
The Vegotel recently opened and it can counts already on three others facilities opened in Friesland and Drenthe. Next to this a promising plan of franchising in Italy and Switzerland. The Vegotel in Blije consists of a living room with a snack corner that guests can use to relax and two guestrooms nicely furnished and decorated by Nazma that – beside being an experienced vegan cook - has a background in fashion design. Dulcis in fundo Elena and Lucia’s visit ended with a delicious apple pie with whip cream….all vegan. Last but not least, at the Vegotel Henk and Nazma share their lives with special companions: two gorgeous roosters, MG and TF, living in the garden and friendly welcoming the B&B guests like pets and two elder purrying cats, enjoying the comfort of the couch: Batman and Niels.