The initial plan: a budget option
We started to promote the Dutch Summer School in Amsterdam in 2014. A lot of people reacted that the cost of the accommodation was simply too high for them.
That’s when we decided to look for a second location (additional to Amsterdam). After scouting many locations all over the Netherlands, we found the ‘banana shape’ group accommodations of ‘Landgoed Het Timmerholt’ in Drenthe. To put it simple: the cheapest accommodation that we could find in the Netherlands. A little bit outdated, but significantly more affordable than Amsterdam.
The other assets
Already in the first week of the Summer School in 2015, we found out that price wasn’t the only benefit of this location:
– the quiet nature environment was a perfect place to study, opposed to a city with many distractions
– the fact that all students booked accommodation and stayed together, resulted in a great social atmosphere
– 100% of the students was fully focussed (compared to Amsterdam where half of the people didn’t book accommodation and continued their lives next to the intensive course)
– it’s much easier to practise speaking Dutch in the country side, opposed to an international city where everybody is used to communicating in English
Drenthe becomes main location
In the beginning, half of the students chose ‘Amsterdam’ and the other half chose the ‘best price’ in Drenthe. But gradually we started to build our name, and more and more the other advantages of our courses in Drenthe became known. Most people who visited our programme in both Amsterdam as Drenthe, preferred Drenthe. The return rates in Drenthe were significantly higher. As a result Drenthe became our ‘main’ location and Amsterdam a second option.
2020: the end of the banana buildings
We were very sad, when we were informed that the good old banana buildings were bought by a developer; who planned to demolish them in order to construct luxury houses. So, again, we had to search all over the Netherlands: not only for the best price! Now, we wanted a place that could offer all the other things as well: nature, self catering houses grouped together, at the country side. But we had one extra demand: we wanted to avoid a similar situation, that we rent something for a few years and are then we’re kicked out. So, then we looked for something to buy.
We visited locations in Flevoland, Brabant, Overijssel, Gelderland and other places in Drenthe. But the solution was much closer than we thought: just 100 meters away! At the same holiday park: a whole street was for sale! After a week of playing monopoly, the deal was done.
The purchased buildings were not as outdated as the previous ‘bananas’. Nevertheless… now that we owned the buildings, we had the chance to invest in quality, just like we do with our programme. And so we invested in a total renovation: new kitchens, new interieurs, new bathrooms, new gardens, insulation, even some new roofs!
And the result? In 2023, we still offer the same rates for the accommodation as in 2018. But in 2018, for this money you didn’t have a dish washer, a washing machine, an oven, locks on the door, a renovated interior, our single rooms even didn’t have a window! We can still offer the same rates, simply because we own the buildings.
And that makes that our ‘Language Campus’ still meets the initial criteria: a great environment for the best price!