Interview with Martijn Kwast from Kwast Wijnkopers
I started studying International Business at the Erasmus University, but that was not my thing. I came in contact with Hotelschool The Hague through my parents. I checked out both Lausanne and Hotelschool The Hague, but I deliberately chose the Hotelschool because it focuses more on the business side of the study. I started in Amsterdam with the first group of students at the new campus. Both my parents studied at Hotelschool The Hague, so with a small detour I followed in their footsteps.
When I first started in Amsterdam, the Skotel was not quite ready and we got a letter that we had to find our own apartment. That was quite a hassle, but luckily I was able to arrange a place via some friends. Here we always had around ten guests staying with us. That ended up being so much fun that we came up with the idea to start a student association. Together with seven other friends, I founded Comitas.
As we were the first group of students in Amsterdam, the start of our study was a bit chaotic. All the teachers and students had to figure out how everything worked, but it was a lot of fun. After three months at Hotelschool The Hague, the Skotel was completed and we moved in there. It was a huge building for just 60 students, so we used the extra space to build a cinema and play hockey in the hallways.
There were so many memorable moments at the Hotelschool; just the entire study in itself was great. However, probably one of the best things was being so involved in setting up Comitas.
I never started at the Hotelschool with the intention of working in hotels, so when looking for an internship, I didn’t really focus on hotels. For my first internship I went to South Africa. I worked for a major wine producer who also had a hotel, but for the most part I worked at the winery, which was a lot of fun. For my final internship I went to London. Here I worked for the Castel Group. I was responsible for a project in which a French company was bought by an English company. I had to help integrate the two. I was the only one who could speak both French and English, so I acted as a translator. It was a great learning experience.
After graduation I went straight on to study for my masters at Nijenrode. I can highly recommend it. A master really takes you much deeper into your study, and the programme at Nijenrode matches well with the Hotelschool The Hague curriculum. During my masters I wrote my final thesis for Heineken, and after my graduation I started working for the American Constultancy company Kurt Salmon Associates. Here I worked as a consultant for big fashion companies such as Calvin Klein and Abercrombie and Fitch. I purposely chose to leave the world of food and beverage I was used to working in to broaden my working experience. Whilst I was working as a consultant my dad had an accident, so I made the decision to start working for the family business. I have always had a fascination for the wine business, but I broadly oriented myself. Now I run the family business together with my father.
In five years time I still see our company as an independent family business, supplying wine to hotels, restaurants, bars and specialised wine shops. Furthermore, our company constantly aims to become better in what we do.
One of the current trends that I see in the wine industry in the Netherlands, is a higher demand for pure and elegant wines, which have a story behind them and can be offered to our customers for a competitive price. Consumers are looking for fresh and enjoyable wines as opposed to the heavier wines which were popular in the past.