Posted by: Bob Fisher | May 20, 2009

Schiphol: Amsterdam’s Award-winning Traveller-friendly Airport … and Spa!

Doing the airport thing

According to a recent media release (see below), in 2008 Amsterdam Airport Schiphol was again chosen “the favourite international airport” by Canadian travel agents and the readers of the U.S.-based magazine Executive Travel.

As anyone who travels a lot knows, the logistics of “getting there” are becoming more and more critical in terms of mental and physical well-being. There are airports (which shall remain unnamed) that I will avoid at all costs, especially airports that are gargantuan panic-attack-time “hubs” or connector points for onward travel.

From personal experience

However, there are other airports that I will always try to route myself through because of their amenities, ease of entry and transit, inter-terminal transportation, and people-friendly architecture; the latter can do wonders in terms of the all-important ambiance when you have a long layover. And airport architects are becoming increasingly sensitive to passengers needs for acoustic, visual, and other sensory elements that, as singer Glen Campbell said so well, are “gentle on my mind.”

Airports are a mindful business — and more than ever destinations unto themselves.

Ah Schiphol…

So when I had to travel to Estonia not long ago, I once again strategized very carefully because there were no non-stop flights from Toronto to the capital of Tallinn; and a rather lengthy stopover was required. Given the routings, Schiphol was once again my interlude of choice. And here’s why.

Amsterdam and The Netherlands in general have a culture that emphasizes discretion, common sense, personal privacy, and a low-key (but not overly regimented) personal sense of space. These elements are reflected in almost all public places wherever you go in this wonderful nation; and that includes Schiphol.

Schiphol is also one of the easiest airports in Europe to get in and out of, and if you are visiting The Netherlands, it is an airport that integrates all the cultural elements I have just mentioned in such a way that you have a sense of already “being there” as soon as you step into the terminal.

Two unique resources at Schiphol

Whether you are in transit to some other destination, especially after a long overnight flight (and Schiphol is one of the most important international transit points), or if you are waiting for a flight home, after what in my experience is always a splendid cultural travel experience, do visit the following which are brilliantly integrated into the Schiphol mise en scène.


In the European tradition of spas, there has always been an emphasis on good health through holistic physical fitness and regeneration. There is a very long history in Europe of spas that give clients access to natural methods of health care, natural products, and natural health resources; the “taking of waters” being a principal method.

Of course the ambiance of the spa experience — the non-urban, nature-oriented getaway experience — also helps enhance the overall well-being of the client. And this is what Schiphol’s XpresSpa can also provide; in a sense “an island of tranquility in a sea of storms” — the latter often the inevitable side of travel.

So, knowing that I had an afternoon meeting in Estonia after an overnight flight from Canada and a layover at Schiphol, I took myself to XpresSpa and “treated” myself (I use the word deliberately) to a full body massage and a “Gentleman’s Facial.”

“A facial?” you say. Absolutely! One must not forget that the skin is the largest organ in the human body, and even though we all strive not to judge a book by its cover, but at the same time also not take “stuff” at face value, I came out of XpresSpa not looking like “a potato dug up on a dirty day” (as one of my aunts used to say), and as I usually do after long flights. In brief, after an overnight flight in a cramped aircraft that is usually as dry as the Sahara, the regeneration I got at XpresSpa did not make me look like Brad Pitt, but by the time I got to Tallinn, I was feeling no effects of jetlag, and was relaxed, refreshed, and ready for full interactive mode.

Some cultural enlightenment on the side

Feeling human again, and still with some time to spare before my next flight, I availed myself of some additional mental refurbishment by visiting the “branch plant” in the Schiphol terminal (on “Holland Boulevard,” in the area behind passport control between the E and F Pier) of one of the world’s greatest art museums, The Rijksmuseum.

Once again, a a brilliant “value-added” airport service for passengers who want a little creative, mental, and cultural refurbishment.

What also is brilliant about this amenity is that the exhibits rotate, and if you like art (and need a brief art break), you will not be disappointed. To understand what I am referring to, have a look at past, current, and future exhibits at Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Schiphol.

Ying and Yang

The secret of successful travel? It’s always a question of complementary forces; of mind and body.

Press Release


#1 Choice of Canadian Travel Agents and Readers of American ‘Executive Travel’ Magazine

Schiphol – Over 3500 Canadian travel agents have elected Amsterdam Airport Schiphol as ‘Favorite International Airport 2008’, making it the fourth time in a row that Schiphol has won the prize in this category since its inception in 2005. The prize, awarded by the Canadian Travel Press & Travel Courier magazine (published by Baxter Travel Media, Canada’s largest and oldest publisher of travel media), was granted to Schiphol for its famous ‘one-terminal’ concept, and for the efficiency and variety of facilities such as shops, restaurants, the XpresSpa, the Babycare Lounge, a casino and the Rijksmuseum annex.

‘Amsterdam Schiphol is clearly on Canadian travel agents’ radar,’ said Michael Baginski, editor at Baxter Travel Media. ‘Schiphol has won the award four times in a row since we introduced the category in 2005. I am certain that they will have a good chance again in 2009 in the world of Canadian travel.’

Jasper Spruit (Marketing Manager) and Patricia Freije (Business Developer) of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol received the prestigious award at the World Travel Market in London. The other nominees in the category were Vancouver, Toronto, Hong Kong and London Heathrow airports.

2008 Awards

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol received several awards in the first months of 2008. In September 2008, British business travelers elected Amsterdam Airport Schiphol winner of the Business Traveler Award in the ‘Best Airport in Europe’ category for the 25th time since 1980. Readers of the American ‘Executive Travel’ magazine chose Amsterdam Airport Schiphol as the best international airport. The award was based on the services, products and innovations that airports and airlines offer their customers. Schiphol has won this ‘Leading Edge Award’ twice.

Readers of the Asian freight industry newspaper ‘Cargonews Asia’ have voted Amsterdam Airport Schiphol the ‘Best Airport in Europe’ for the 15th time, and ‘Best Air Cargo Terminal Europe’ for the 10th time. Schiphol received these awards for the high quality of its freight facilities and for efficiency in the freight transfer process.

In the 4th annual Air Cargo Excellence (ACE) study by the publication Air Cargo World, Schiphol won the ‘Award of Excellence’ in the European airports category, with over 1 million tons of cargo.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol welcomed 47.8 million passengers and handled over more than 1.6 million tons of cargo in 2007, ranking as Europe’s fifth-largest passenger and third-largest cargo airport. Around 90 scheduled airlines operate flight services from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to some 270 destinations worldwide. The airport thus ranks as one of Europe’s fourth major hubs and one of the two principal home bases to Air France-KLM and the SkyTeam alliance. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is a major driver of the regional Dutch economy generating on-airport jobs for more than 61,000 people.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol forms part of Schiphol Group. The company is an airport operator and operates airports both in the Netherlands and abroad. Schiphol Group’s ambition is to rank among the world’s leading airport companies. Visit


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