Destination: Amsterdam

What planners can learn about wellness events from the healthiest city in the world

Amsterdam might be known for its canals, distinctive architecture and world-class museums, but the city has another accolade to add to the list: Amsterdam has been named the healthiest city in the world.

And as wellness is increasingly one of the top motivators for planners worldwide, they could learn a thing or two from the Netherlands’ largest city—not to mention that Amsterdam ranks as a top 20 international meeting destination. So, whether you’re traveling abroad for an event or looking to infuse more health-based initiatives into your meetings, you can take a cue from Amsterdam. Here’s inspiration for how to incorporate the city’s principals for healthy living into events:

Clean Air

Amsterdam has policies in place to achieve as much zero-emissions traffic as possible by 2025. Those measures include environmental zones that prevent older, more polluting trucks, vans and scooters from entering the city and numerous public charging ports, which are supplied with locally-generated electricity, for the city’s many electric vehicles.

Spending time outside can help attendees—and planners!reduce stress, though not all meetings call for being outdoors. For meetings that need to take place inside, consider using augmented reality to highlight scenic landscapes and other relevant nature scenes to help lift attendees’ moods.


A trip to Amsterdam isn’t a trip to Amsterdam without riding a bike. Cycling around the city is both part of Amsterdam’s history and a triumph of urban planning, ultimately providing a great way for residents to get active.

Although it might not be appropriate for attendees to cycle around your meeting, find other ways for them to get moving. Maybe it’s including a dance floor for your event reception, or a breakout session that includes light activity, such as yoga.

Fresher Food

In some cities, you can’t walk a block without seeing at least one fast-food restaurant. But in Amsterdam, the number of fast-food outlets is low, resulting in a focus on fresher, healthier food.

Apply the same principle to your meeting menu, and offer a variety of filling-yet-healthy food options. Consider a DIY health food bar so attendees can make their own meals.

Better Work-Life Balance

The Netherlands also ranks first in the world for work-life balance, which contributes to Amsterdam’s healthy lifestyle. Only .5 percent of the country’s employees say they work very long hours compared with a 13 percent average for the rest of the world, which means more opportunity to rest and enjoy time without the high demand of work.

For meetings where being productive is a main focus, balance attendees’ time with breakout sessions that allow time to de-stress and refocus. For example, set up small, cozy stations where attendees can decompress together. Include comfortable seating, beverages, snacks, relaxing music and objects such as candles that can help reduce stress.

While there are many ways to incorporate Amsterdam’s healthy lifestyle into your events, should your budget allow a trip to the city, we encourage you to visit the Amsterdam Marriott Hotel or the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel, which both offer a variety of meeting spaces for every type of event—and a space outside for bike parking.