In addition to classrooms and labs space, there were bedrooms there as well. Many IBMers, especially those traveling from the U.S., tried every trick in the book to avoid staying at the La Hulpe center, opting whenever possible to stay at a "proper" hotel in Brussels. But we always loved La Hulpe and definitely preferred staying there. Yes, the bedrooms were tiny, the beds even more so and the furnishings very basic--spartan, in fact.
But the place is surrounded by the Belgian national forest and next door to a beautiful chateau whose grounds are open to the public. The IBM center had bicycles you could borrow and ride over to the chateau or into the village of La Hulpe. There were some great little restaurants in the villages around La Hulpe. And if you were busy trying to get your lab working for the class you were teaching the following week, there was a restaurant at IBM with pretty decent food. Perhaps strangest of all, at least to IBMers from the U.S., there was a bar--La Cave. It was only open in the evenings but it was a great place to enjoy the wide variety of Belgian beers and relax with kindred spirits (i.e., fellow AS/400-iSeries geeks).
Sadly, IBM moved out of the La Hulpe education center long ago and the place seemed to stand empty for years--a terrible waste. When we heard a year or so ago that it had been turned into a luxury hotel and convention center, we knew that we'd have to get back there someday.
And so we did this past weekend. It didn't disappoint. The place is now called Dolce La Hulpe. The bedrooms are now beautifully furnished with king-size beds--a major improvement! La Cave still exists (with a different name) but is only open for special functions. The restaurant on site is very different but still nice. One of our favorite restaurants nearby seems to have closed recently, but we did get into Brussels to our favorite restaurant there. On Sunday we rented bicycles and rode to and around the Chateau and had lunch at the tavern there.
It was very much like old times in La Hulpe--minus staying up half the night trying to get new systems and software to do what we were hoping to teach people about.
We're glad we came back and hope to be back again in the future. We highly recommend it to anyone who wants to visit the Brussels area but may prefer more serene surroundings than what the city offers.
We wrote up our own "Jon and Susan's Guide to Visiting Brussels" for a family member who was coming here a few years ago and we've shared it with a few others planning trips here. We'll definitely be adding Dolce La Hulpe to the recommendations in that guide. We love Belgium. It's definitely a favorite spot in Europe.
If any of you have an interest in our Brussels guide, let us know in the comments. We can always post it on our website!