ANTWERP: When Botanic Sanctuary Antwerp opens in Antwerp next year, it will be an extraordinary location and in the words of Marc Alofs, the manager responsible for the development of the hotel, it will be something that is developed once every 20 to 30 years. It will be the first five star superior hotel in Antwerp and the first hotel in the city to be a member of the Leading Hotels of the World.

“We have managed to find lots of people and staff members who like craftsmanship, who have one thing in common which is an incredible eye for detail. People who focus on quality not quantity, who look at every detail,” Marc Alofs, who is managing the project said.

“It is going to be a unique property in Europe. Under our roof, there will be two chefs that had three Michelin star restaurants. One is Gert de Mangeleer, the other is Dutch chef Jacob Jan Boerma.”

The executive chef will be Wouter Van Tichelen who will also head the Botanic restaurant. “This is going to be unique in Europe,” he said.

Marc told Food and Wine Gazette that the site dates back to medieval times. “We started work on developing it in 2019. There will be 109 rooms and suites. The 20 suites will be spa suites and botanic garden suites. They will have an air filter that cleans out 99 per cent of bacteria and viruses and in these times it is quite important,” he said.

“The holistic spa concept represents the site’s history. The botanical gardens used to be the gardens of a medieval hospital and a part of the site of an ages old hospital. The garden was a place where they grew herbs and spices that were necessary to heal people in the hospital,” Marc said.

“We will not just focus on wellness but also on treating skin problems. We will have a team of specialists that will analyse skin and will not just look for symptoms but for real reasons for issues that people might have. We are working with two trademarks, one Belgian, one Swiss which are 100 per cent organic and 100 per cent based on herbs,” he said.

In the spa building there will be a business member fitness club for 80 members which will also be accessible to hotel guests. “We are creating 19 multi functional rooms for events, an auditorium for 300 people in an an old church dating back to the 1400s.

“Our selling point is our attention to detail. A lot of hotels are managed from some capital in some country. This is just us. By creating a place where craftsmanship is so important and with great people working together we will be creating something really extraordinary,” he said.

Jacob Jan Boerma, chef of three Michelin star chef De Leest which closed its doors in the Netherlands in 2019 will also have a restaurant in Antwerp. The name of the restaurant is expected to be Fine Fleur. The dutch chef will be working together with Thomas Diespersloot who comes from Restaurant Voltaire.

He joins Gert De Mangeleer and Joachim Boudens who are opening Hertog Jan.

Boerma is not the first Dutch chef to open a restaurant in Antwerp. Nick Bril is at the helm of The Jane and Sergio Herman, Nick Bril’s partner in The Jane has also opened Le Pristine earlier this summer.

Alofs is aware of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants event in Antwerp next year and is working to ensure the hotel is open before the event. “Our aim is to have the hotel ready by May so we are ready to open by June,” he said.

“We have managed to bring extraordinary people together. There are a lot of ideas and we have to do things that others don’t do. The building offers us lots of possibilities.”

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