Name: Ida Slagboom

Age: 54 years old

Comes from: Nieuw Lekkerland (in the neighborhood of Rotterdam in Holland), that’s where I lived most of my life.

Married to: Gerrie Slagboom

Children: Our daughter, Natascha (31) and our son-in-law, Kenneth. Our son, Michel (30) and our daughter-in-law, Lotte. And and we have 2 granddaughters: Sem and Bobbi.

Restaurant: Sem’s, which we named after our granddaughter. In March 27, 2018 we have opened Sem’s, so it exists already two years.

Opening times: Sem’s opens at 9:30. and closes around 18:00., but in summer we’ll continue longer until about 20:00. Sem’s is closed on Wednesday.

Address: Avenida de España 3, Galería MiraSol

How did you get to know Gerrie?
We were 15, 16 years old when we started to be a couple. We knew each other from school.
Gerrie always played football, he became a professional footballer, starting at the age of 19. Then we got married, he played football and I stayed at home with our little children and I started to study.

What did you study?
I started by getting my retail certification and after that I got my hospitality papers, already with the idea that if Gerrie ever stopped playing football, then maybe we could do something together afterwards.

I worked as a waitress for 7 years at Windkracht 4 in Kinderdijk, near the mills. And then there was this party centre we could run in Krimpen aan den IJssel. We started talking about this and then we went for it together, my husband Gerrie and me. Gerrie did the bookkeeping and I ran the company with 15 employees. In that party centre there was an opportunity for meetings, weddings and parties. We had a cook, all the works. We did that for 10 years.  

After 7 years, we said to each other, ‘What are we going to do now?’
‘Let’s go to Spain and start something there!’

So after 10 years of running this party centre I worked for a few years at Grand Cafe Buena Vista in Kinderdijk and in the meantime Gerrie and I were looking for a nice restaurant to start in Spain.

Why Spain?
The weather, nice living outside.

Did you always go on holiday to Spain?
Sure we’ve been there with the kids, but not often… Yes, we went to Gran Canaria once. And we camped in Spain a few times.

But surely someone must have come up with the idea of going to Spain, how did that happen?
That’s because of our enthusiastic son and daughter, who were often searching the internet: ‘Oh dad, mom this is a nice one, you should go and have a look!’ and then we booked a ticket and then we went to see if it was nice.

And those were restaurants you were going to look at?
Yes, we were in Benalmádena for quite a while, but we didn’t succeed there. And then in Torrox Costa, but someone else was a little bit earlier. We wanted a location on the first line, on the beach.

And then we were in Seville and our son called us,’You have to make an appointment, because in Estepona there is something for sale.’ That just came out well, because we had to go back to the airport in Malaga anyway.

When we got there we were sitting on the terrace at Oliveri and we thought ‘Gosh, this looks so familiar!’ and as it turned out: we had already been looking there ten years before, in 2010. But at that moment it looked old and bad maintained and Oliveri didn’t even exist yet. And this time we came to look at a building two doors away. Of course it was a big decision, but at the same time we thought, ‘We’re already in our 50’s, otherwise it’s never going to work out!’ and we made the purchase. Don’t think too much, just do it. We both agreed. And so did the kids.

What are you most proud of?
That after all the problems we have had, we’ve persevered and we nailed it!
Everyone says it’s really going to take a year to get everything right. Well, that’s proven, we’ve had a lot of problems, with permits among other things, that was really tough. Fortunately, we had good help from the people around us.

We’ve had so many problems at first and just when I thought:’We’ll be fine’ THIS happens… The Corona virus lockdown…
So basically we’ll have to start from scratch again. And the big question, of course, is: are the tourists going to come?! Are we going to overcome this? We’ll have to see… But we’re hard workers. I lost 13 kilos the first year with all the stress and Gerrie 6 kilos. And now it’s just wait and see if we can get it back on track.

The location is of course beautiful on the beach!
Yes, sure, but we are very much dependent on the weather. People can also sit indoors when the weather is bad, but of course most guests want to enjoy to sit outside.

So when you were studying at home you got all your hospitality papers. For Gerrie, that was no longer necessary?
No, he only had to get the Social Hygiene certificate, but that’s not much work.

Do you like work in the hospitality industry?
Yes, I really like it, and I like to meet all kinds of people but it’s also rather tiring. But yes, that’s normal, isn’t it?

Did Gerrie like working in the hospitality industry?
Yes, already in the party centre he did the bookkeeping, maintenance and worked as a bartender. We were able to earn money, made a buffer, we have Asta, our waitress and Ruud, our cook. We are very happy with our staff and then this is happening… The Corona crisis.

How do you spend Wednesday, your day off?
Well, sometimes we have to bring papers to the accountant and we sometimes have to get things for the restaurant, but in general we made the appointment that we will try and visit something meanwhile, such as Tarifa, we previously went to this sulfur lake at Casares, the ´baños de la Hedionda´. We try to see something, because of course we never have time for anything.

What are your hobbies?
I would really like to go to the gym, but of course I don’t have time for that. But in the summer we do swim in the pool of our urbanization (Valle Romano) when we come home in the evening or on Wednesday. In winter we leave home at eight o’clock and we are not home until eight o’clock, because we also have to clean, so you don’t have time for other things. Sometimes we do go out for dinner with others.
I did training chocolate making at Callebaut in Zundert and I thought: ‘If I am less busy in winter, I can make and sell chocolates!’, But It has never been quiet … It’s always busy. Making chocolates takes a lot of time and patience, which is a pity, because I have all the stuff. And I can make very nice chocolates …

You are indeed often very busy …
Yes, we have a good number of guests and we also have many regular clients.

Do you have a lot of visitors from the Netherlands?
Yes, many friends, acquaintances and family come by and sometimes unexpectedly, but they always sleep elsewhere, and we try make time to go out for dinner with them.

Do you speak Spanish?

A little bit, ‘catering’ Spanish ‘, you know:’buen provecho’ and so on …

How did you learn it?
I used to take courses around 2004, but the reality is very different than the theory. Here they also speak a different kind of Spanish: Andalusian. I learn words and listen carefully to the people and of course through Asta, our waitress I learn a lot. It’s still very difficult, but I try! I want to, but my brain doesn’t cooperate.

Have you made friends in Estepona yet?
Listen, I know a lot of people from working on the terrace and they invite us sometimes, but I tell you honestly: I don’t have the energy. We come home at 9 o’clock in the evening, what do you feel like? And we work 6 days a week. It just doesn’t happen. We know a lot of people from many different countries. Sometimes we have dinner together…

And you have a lot of contact with your children, probably using Skype or something?
Yes always. We play Rummikub online with all of us. And they also come here occasionally.

Are mainly Dutch people joining Sem’s?
No, many Scandinavians, Scottish, Irish, Spaniards, recently many Americans and Canadians, Swiss and French people. I always enjoy talking to the guests, sometimes they just come from a village further than where we came from, the world is so small.

Was that the intention, that mixed clientele, or did you aim for Dutch people?
No, I like it when it’s a mix, all kinds of people. And everyone speaks English … people come back too, I noticed that. Very nice! Every Thursday the ‘Chatty Crafters‘ handicrafts come and everyone is welcome at 11 am, it is for all nationalities!

Tell us about your staff?
Heleen our former cook who had come from the Netherlands (former colleague at restaurant Buena Vista) helped set up Sem’s, but unfortunately went back to the Netherlands for 1 year and now we have continued with Ruud he has been working since February 2019 with us as a cook and Asta is our waitress, right from the start. We are very happy with them!

What do you like most about Estepona?
Well, it is not that big! The streets are nice, the plants, the flowers, it is not massive. No mass tourism, many people also come to Estepona for a day.

What are your favorite restaurants in Estepona?
We always go to La Galería and to Sur, but also to Bar T in the harbor, a Belgian restaurant. Have you ever been in that mini-café Raffles, that is so nice!

Do you have any tips for fun getaways?
Gosh no, I want to get tips myself.

Are you planning to go on a trip?
If I ever get the time to go on holiday again, I would like to go on a trip in Spain. I don’t want to go the Netherlands!

But do you ever go to the Netherlands?
Yes, I have a mother of 90 years old in a retirement home and brothers and a sister and we have the children of course.

Do you have any books and films you like?
We don’t read books, because then we fall asleep and we actually love all kinds of films, we recently enjoyed Penoza.

So you still watch Dutch television?
Yes, sorry! And Gerrie sometimes watches football … Not too much though.

What irritates you in Estepona?
That people drop everything on the floor and that they let their dog piss against our blackboard and then just walk on without throwing water on it. And not being able to park and while there is such a large parking garage, make it cheaper! So that everyone can park normally. That’s a really bad feature of Estepona. Something has to happen with that. It shouldn’t cost € 15 a day of course to park your car!

How are you doing in the lockdown?
Are we already worried, Gerrie? Yeah, a bit, huh? We are all in the same boat, but we hope that we are financially assisted by the government. And that we will soon be able to open again and keep our head above water. We are now learning a bit of Spanish, in the lockdown and we are cycling on our exercise bike. You can’t do more …, I hope Asta and Ruud are doing well too. It will soon be hard to work again, sitting at home is of course not very good for our health. We go to bed late and get up late now. But I think everyone does that. Everyone is in a different rhythm and soon everything will be difficult.

What are the plans?
To continue for a few years and to rebuild it well. And maybe another challenge will come our way. But it is still too early to say, ‘I want to be there in five years!’

Do you have a dream, a trip you want to make?

Yes, ever in my life, but then we have to stay healthy and be financially free, I would like to travel with a camper. Not only in Spain. Living in Spain and making money is not easy. We don’t look too far ahead. You see it now, with that Corona virus, there is something happening all the time. The most important thing is our health and that of the children.