How it all got started

About Ben & Hetty

It all started in the summer of 1994...

The Early Years

We met in 1994 and during our very first date we were fooling around and fantasizing about having a motorlodge in the Belgian Ardennes. Back then Ben was working at a company in trailer accessories and I (Hetty) had a job in the hotel business. The both of us already loved driving motorcycles. Ben was the proud owner of a Laverda 1200th Anniversary and I had a Honda Shadow, which wasn’t a real motorbike according to Ben. So the Honda Shadow was quickly replaced with a Laverda.

After living together for a couple of years in a tiny upstairs apartment, we found our first real house in the town of Schoonhoven. The house was perfect for us, it had a garage for the motorbikes and it was also beautiful to look at. Our first home! Ben’s employer moved it's business to Schoonhoven, so Ben could ride his bicycle to work every day. I found a new job in my old profession at a photographer in the area. We were completely settled in Schoonhoven!

In 1997 we tied the knot and got married, and I (Hetty) went back to school to make sure that I had the necessary papers for a starting my own hotel business. Within the year, Ben’s employer was so successful that it needed more space and decided to move the entire company to the city of Venray.

We already renovated our house completely, so we sold it in no time and moved to Merselo, a village near Venray. We started out renting a house so we had more time to look for a property, which we could also convert to a Motor Lodge. We looked for a long time, and to be honest there were some nice properties amongst them, but the surrounding areas were just not what we were looking for.

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From Limburg to Belgium

We wandered further and further from our original search area and ended up in Flanders, Belgium. The upside to this was that property prices were much better than in Holland, but the landscape wasn’t breath-taking at all. We continued our search even more South and started looking in the beautiful province of Wallonia, in the town of Houffalize to be exact.

We found a beautiful piece of land for development in 1999, and we fell in love with it immediately. With an architect we designed a beautiful building for this plot, but the municipality did not grant us a permit, because they did not want a motor lodge in their town. We fought this decision for three years, but eventually lost the battle. During this time we already moved to Houffalize and were living in a rented house with a spectacular view.

Because the municipality took such a long time to come to their decision, we kept looking for suitable properties in the area. We found several buildings, but they would just be sold, stood on polluted ground, were too expensive and so on.

In the meantime we had set up our own DIY-company and worked wherever was possible to earn some money. Later on Ben found a job as a truck driver for a catering wholesaler and I worked at several catering companies.

And there was Vielsalm

In 2002, after three years of searching properties, we found our spot in Vielsalm. A 200-year-old former distillery, completely neglected, but to us it felt like home immediately.

The provisional purchase contract was signed very quickly and we were actually waiting for things to go wrong, but they didn’t. It seemed like luck was on our side this time round! During the years we have almost renovated the entire building and it’s getting better and more beautiful. After many years of hard labor on the house and creating our motor lodge, our dream has become reality!

Looking Back

Now, 15 years later, we are very proud of our achievements. The differences couldn’t be bigger. From a tiled pot heater for central heating and a leaking roof to central heating throughout the house and an insulated roof with solar panels; from a tiny old kitchen to a fully equipped professional kitchen; from no private living space to a private apartment, from living room to a bar; from junk pile to porch and so on. We will probably never be finished with these kinds of improvements to our property. But that’s actually the way we want it. We want to keep experiencing the great feeling when a job is done; it makes us happy and gives a sense of self achievement.

We still enjoy our work immensely; we love the place, each other, the village we live in, our dogs and the beautiful surroundings. This place feels truly as our home and we hope this will stay this way for a very long time.

Hetty and Ben

Bâton Rouge

Bendert van Reek & Hetty Everaarts

  • OUR ADSRESS

    21, Rue de la Grotte, 6690 Vielsalm, België
  • EMAIL

    batonrouge@benhet.be
  • PHONE NUMBERS

    Tel. +32 80 398 401,
    Mob. +32 497 784 353

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