Boundless ambitions, globally scattered hotels and a wonderful history. We are talking about Van der Valk. With nearly one hundred hotels and a family member at the helm almost everywhere, Van der Valk is a unique family business worldwide.

How it once began...

Anyone who thinks that the second in a line of 24 children has no chance has not known Martinus Van der Valk. It was Martinus who in 1929, after the death of his mother, took over and expanded the farm De Gouden Leeuw (The Golden Lion) in Voorschoten. He saw opportunities everywhere and seized them with both hands. His father had instilled in him 'You have to pick up the lettuce plants someone else throws away' and he took this to heart throughout his life. Cleverly, he took advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves. Martinus was a man of ideas. He did not lack business instincts. A born entrepreneur with a nose for business.

So one day he traded a horse for a car. He could not enjoy his acquisition for long, because the next day the car would no longer start. In order to get some pleasure from his purchase, Martinus mounted the car wheels under his horse cart. Now he had a noiseless cart. It became an unseen success! Other cart owners came to Martinus for tires and he naturally rolled into the car business.

As a businessman, Martinus was on the road a lot. However, he noticed that nowhere was he served such good food as he had at home. It occurred to him that he wanted visitors to the Golden Lion to enjoy a delicious meal, just like at home with his mother. And so, the first catering concept was born.

While Martinus remained in the car business, his wife Rie operated the "diner. Twelve children were born to the marriage of Martinus and Rie. The children's help could be put to good use in the business. It was hard work in the Van der Valk family; there was no time to sit still. The concept caught on, and the success soon became impossible to keep up with. Martinus seized the opportunity to expand the business further. Hotel rooms for traders who took their cattle to the cattle market. It also provided security for his daughters, all of whom could contribute to the business.

Martinus figured that he wanted a business for every child. This had to work! After all, his children had been brought up on entrepreneurship. Martinus started looking for suitable businesses to take over, while Rie and the children continued to run the Gouden Leeuw. The businesses Martinus bought were usually companies that were not in the best financial shape, but in which he saw a future. It was the beginning of the Van der Valk chain.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the growth of the concern was very rapid. Not only were catering businesses taken over, many new ones were built. The Van der Valk empire expanded steadily.

Family ties

By now we have been several decades since the start. Many branches have been added. Not only in the Netherlands, but also in Belgium, Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands Antilles. The fourth generation is now at the helm and here and there the fifth generation is already at work. Moreover, the first member of the sixth generation was recently born. Succession guaranteed!

Together they build, renovate, modernize, expand, etc., in order to pass on the torch to the next generation. Just as Martinus once wanted.

Second home

Because Van der Valk is a true family business, employees immediately feel at home. There is no denying that they have to work hard. The Van der Valk family sets a good example in this every day. Van der Valk also recognizes that their strength lies primarily with the employees. It is they who provide the service and hospitality that Van der Valk is so well known for. Over the years, Van der Valk still feels like coming home. Good food and drink and a good night's sleep in a cozy environment where you can always have a chat with the employees or the Valk director himself.

Why the toucan and not a falcon?

Let this be the most frequently asked question to the Van der Valk family! And understandably so!

Well, the answer is very simple. The family was looking for a symbol for the whole family. The falcon, so just after the war, was still too often associated with the raptor symbolism used by the Nazis. As Gerrit van der Valk said, "When a falcon sleeps it is nothing and when it goes out to rob, it is like an eagle. A toucan on the other hand is a beautiful, big, tropical bird, a cheerful beast, a sociable beast, that suits us much better."