Das Grand Hotel Bellevue, das im Volksmund 'De Rotonde' genannt wird, ist das erste Juwel Westendes. Dieses am Zeedijk 300 gelegene Hotel wurde vom berühmten Art nouveau-Architekten Octave Van Rysselberghe entworfen und im Jahre 1983 unter Denkmalschutz gestellt.
At the beginning of his career, Octave van Rysselberghe (1855 – 1929) built various city houses in Brussels, first in a traditional Italianising style, later on in the modern Art Nouveau style, in cooperation with architect Henry van de Velde. The Art Nouveau principles stood out most in the mansion he designed for businessman Paul Otlet in 1894.
During his work for the Compagnie des Grands-Hôtels around 1900, his style seemingly became more old-fashioned. However, when he got involved in the design of Westende in 1903, his building style changed drastically. The Kursaal he built in 1904 was indeed still erected in a rural style, but the unique Grand Hotel Bellevue became the first and foremost example of his new rational formal principles. Van Rysselberghe designed a rectangular building that ended in a semicircular extension.
The method of construction was also modern: a reinforced concrete frame was covered with natural stone plates the joints between which were painted in a contrasting colour. The layout of the hotel was clearly recognisable in the exterior: each room had a loggia and the stairwells were recognisable on the outside by series of rising windows.
On the ground floor the central hall led to the monumental marble staircase next to the elevator as well as to the restaurant, the party hall with adjoining service rooms, the bar and the correspondence hall. The breakfast room and adjoining café were on the sea side. The windows to the terrace were open in case of good weather. The spacious party hall was in the centre of the building. This large space was split up by paired columns, and the cassette ceiling featured six square skylights. There was a stage on the short side.
Grand Hotel Belle Vue is one of the milestones in the tourist history of Middelkerke en Westende. It was designed by the famous art nouveau architect Octave Van Rysselberghe. The building is listed and has been restored in its original style. It was erected in 1909 and was the only building that remained standing in Westende-Bad after the first world war thanks to its reinforced concrete structure. During the Inter-War Period, many members of the Royal family spent their holidays at the hotel.
In the first decade of the 20th century it became clear that Westende needed a second large hotel complex. Westend Hotel, located in the centre of the seaside resort, could no longer meet the demand for accommodation. In 1909 the "S.A. Grand Hotel Bellevue" was founded in order to build a second hotel on the sea wall. The main shareholders were Max Hallet, vice governor of Congo, Francis Dhanis, and architect Octave van Rysselberghe, who provided the design for the new complex. At that time the latter owed his fame to the works on behalf of the Compagnie des Grands-Hôtels Européens. The buildings he designed for this company include the Royal Palace Hotel in Ostend and the Rivièra Palace Hôtel in Beausoleil.
Pre war luxury
The hotel opened its doors in June 1911. Two hundred and twenty-five rooms, two elevators and sixteen baths with hot sea water were at the disposal of the guests. Hydrotherapy ‘avant la lettre' for a rich clientèle as it were.
Westende was largely destroyed in the First World War. Grand Hotel Bellevue survived the ravages of war, albeit seriously damaged. The building was reconstructed, but not entirely to its original state. The fact that the hotel could be reconstructed was thanks to the strong concrete construction that had largely preserved the complex.
"Westendaise S.A. Forcière et Industrielle", which already owned the Westend Hotel as well, took over Grand Hotel Bellevue in 1922 and the company thus came into the possession of the only two large hotels in Westende.
‘Sur une plage en vogue … Dans un Palace renommé … Des appartements modernes … La vie confortable d'avant-guerre au prix d'avant guerre …'
A promotional text to attract tourists to Grand Hotel Bellevue again. Tennis courts were laid out in 1925 to accomplish this. The company made every effort to keep Westende as fashionable as possible. As a result, the seaside resort was a " plage d'élite" during the Inter-War Period. Numerous members of the Royal family and their household visited the hotel suites during the two world wars and spent their holidays at the prestigious Grand Hotel Bellevue. The presence of this noble company in turn had a special charm that drew the rich bourgeoisie to the hotel, who were only too glad to soak up the royal atmosphere.
A stay at such a hotel was obviously rather expensive; for example, a room with bath and toilet cost a staggering25 Belgian francs per night (corresponds to approximately € 150). However, serious discounts were offered after the peak season, which ran from 15 July to 1 September.