Pearl of De Langstraat: De Hoge Heide, Vlijmen

| Vittoria Roitero

Today I have an appointment at the Hoge Heide in Vlijmen. I've had to deal with my loss there several times after a game of bowling, but now I'm going there to talk to the entrepreneur, Peter de Ruijter, and write a blog about it.

I park my car in a spacious parking lot and walk to the entrance. Once inside, I meet Peter sitting on a high table in the café area working on his laptop. "Welcome, nice to have you here" he greets me. He slides his laptop aside and I take a seat on a stool across from him.

"I was just emailing with the supplier of our new games" he tells me. "Do you want to see what it's going to be?" Of course I want to see. Peter turns the laptop over to me and shows some pictures and sketches. I see Interactive Darts passing by and also Electric Shuffle. Both new to me so I ask him what exactly it entails. Peter informs me that Interactive Darts involves throwing real darts on a dartboard, but that the scores are kept automatically and different games and themes can be chosen. "A bit similar to the video bowling we already offer, where you can also choose different games," he said. Electric Shuffle turns out to be a cozy bar game that can be compared a bit to a combination of shuffleboard and curling. On a 4-meter-long table, you take turns sliding pucks to the back of the game sheet. Whoever has their pucks the furthest against the back wins the game. Again, interactive technology is used. Different game modes can be chosen, and TVs at the back of the game table track scores in real time. "It's a really cool game, I've been wanting to make this happen for a long time and now it's finally almost here" says Peter enthusiastically.

"Once this was just a sports canteen. It still has that function, but in addition, since 2018 I have been focusing more and more on Fun." In addition to (video) bowling, bumperz, unihockey, indoor soccer, bounceball, fungames and many more games, people can also stay for dinner. "We have several packages and want to expand that as well. I employ a number of chefs so the menu is also becoming more extensive and professional." I take a closer look around and conclude that the ambiance does not remind me of a sports canteen at all. When you look out the window you see the tennis courts, yes, but the interior and the layout make it a cozy space where you can undoubtedly have a great time. I can see myself having a bite to eat here with my group of friends or family, though, after they beat me at bowling again....

Peter is thinking of expanding with outdoor games such as Jeu de boules, Outdoor Shuffle (known from cruise ships), Street Curling. He tells me that he would also prefer to remodel and expand in square footage, but that this is difficult because of permits and the like. "I regret that, but I also think it's good that the rules are strict. If everyone just renovates then it will be at the expense of the climate." Peter says he values sustainability and green. For example, there are climate-conscious meals on the menu and - in addition to the 240 solar panels - Peter has had a bee hive installed on the roof by a beekeeper. "Look, there's last season's honey there" he says proudly as he points to a number of honey jars behind the bar. "We have one hive now, to experience if it's something for us. Soon it will be expanded to 16 hives. These bees will fly out to nature reserve 't Vlijmens Ven nearby to pollinate the flowers there, and we will benefit because we will soon have enough honey to shape our dishes with that as well." Wow, so I think that's really cool. Peter is clearly an entrepreneur with his heart in the right place.

Finally, I get a tour. Peter shows me the indoor soccer fields, and the squash courts, as well as the room where children's parties can be celebrated and, of course, the bowling alley. "Look, here too we are climate conscious. The balls are pushed up with a hydraulic pump, so not with a motor that is constantly running." I like the detail.

Once back in the bar, we notice that some employees have trickled in in the meantime. The mood is clearly right. "In a moment, we have a staff outing. We're going to an event center where everyone can play games to their heart's content. Extra cool is that there they can already experience the games we will offer here from the end of September (2023)" Peter concludes.

We say goodbye and I wish Peter and his staff lots of fun during the outing. I resolve to get some friends together in the fall. Maybe I'll have a little more luck with the Shuffle pucks than with a bowling ball!

Want to know more about De Hoge Heide? Then click here.



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