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“Barcelona could do much more to exploit its potential” by Willem Van Rossem

“Barcelona could do much more to exploit its potential” by Willem Van Rossem

Willem Van Rossem is married and has one daughter. Born in Holland, Willem has also lived in Madrid, Nagasaki, Kobe, Boston, Orlando, and Paris. In 2003, he moved to Barcelona, where he is now responsible for the Barcelona branch of the Ferrières Hospitality & Luxury Management School. The school is part of Group Accelis, which boasts three university colleges, a number of hotels, restaurants, shops, and vineyards, and several cleaning and real estate companies.

Why did you decide to come to Barcelona?

For love—my wife is from Catalonia. We worked together at the same hotel at Disneyland Paris and then at Walt Disney World in Florida. When I returned to Europe to continue my career, I was involved in opening the first hotels in PortAventura, my first direct contact with a Spanish company.  Then I moved to the Barcelona area where I have worked at several luxury hotels, including the Dolce Sitges hotel complex.

Later, I started to work in training and consulting, which turned out to be my true vocation: I am passionate about helping people grow at both a professional and personal level.  And I now have plenty of work, given the wide range of renowned hotels and schools in Barcelona.

What do you consider to be the city’s strengths?

Barcelona has great quality of life, an outstanding cultural offer, superb gastronomy, and a wide range of leisure facilities and events. Its cosmopolitan spirit, its Mediterranean lifestyle, and its “cool” atmosphere are unbeatable.

What aspects of the city need to be improved?

Work needs to be done on improving the cleanliness of the city and reducing crime. Unfortunately, I get the impression that local and regional politicians are more interested in ideology than the well-being and prosperity of those who live here. I’m sorry to be a bit harsh, but I’ve seen a decline in the last ten years and it saddens me, because Barcelona is unique and could do much more to exploit its potential.

What do you expect from Barcelona in the coming years?

I trust in the ‘seny’ (good sense) of the Catalans, who are hardworking, committed and honest. I believe it is possible to completely transform Barcelona, as the city has such enormous potential.  Barcelona has always managed to reinvent itself in the past; I hope that continues to be the case.

What do you feel is your city? What do you miss the most?

I have lived in other cities, such as Paris, Madrid, Orlando and Kobe, but Barcelona is my home now. I have put down roots here; it’s where I live with my wife and daughter. Although I feel completely at home in Catalonia and Spain now, I miss my mother, brothers and sisters, and my Dutch friend, whom I don’t see as much as I would like.

If you are an expatriate living in the city and want to help improve Barcelona to attract more high-impact talent, you can complete the survey here:

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