Rógvi Mikkelsen: Building an eco-friendly, certified hotel is only the start of the process.
The new Brandan Hotel in Tórshavn is owned by Smyril Line, whose primary work area is travel and freight transport in the North Atlantic. Building their first own hotel in the most sustainable way possible, was a pioneering project for the company. The experiences made there are to be incorporated in further steps into the more sustainable operation of cargo and passenger ships.
The certification process according to the criteria of the Green Key Label was considered in the construction and design of the hotel from the beginning – the best way to avoid later expensive conversions.
In addition to Hotel Brandan, Smyri Line also owns Hotel Hafnia, which has also just been Green Key certified in March 2022.
The 4-star Brandan Hotel was the first Green Key certified hotel in the Faroe Islands. It is conveniently located nearby Nordic House, the largest event venue in Tórshavn. Both companies are consequently work closely together when it comes to problem solving and the joint procurement of environmentally friendly products. The Nordic House also went through the Green Key certification – hence both partners can exchange experiences and learn from each other. The Brandan currently operates a pop-up café in the Nordic House and supplies events with catering, as the in-house café is being renovated.
In my conversation with Rógvi Mikkelsen, the hotel manager, who oversaw the construction and the associated certification from the start, some particular aspects of the Brandan Hotel quickly emerged.
On the one hand there is a special coziness and nonchalance to the hotel. The public spaces like the lobby and restaurant feel uncomplicated. Free to relax, watch and eat delicious cake. Read or just have a coffee. A hotel in which women and men can feel at home. The special concept of the restaurant also fits in with this.
In the restaurant Húsagarður, they follow “Head to Toe”, all parts of the animal are processed into tasty dishes here. A new way for a hotel restaurant, which was enthusiastically accepted by the young team. According to Rógvi, this is one more reason for talented young chefs to choose this job.
For example, there are no steaks or hamburgers on the menu. The logical reason:
If steak and co are on the menu, then 80% of the guests will also order them. This means that committed chefs have little or no opportunity to apply their creativity to new dishes – the available resources are needed for frying hamburgers. We don’t want that.
No use of imported meat from outside Denmark is another ambitious, but feasible policy, as more and more agricultural products and meat are also farmed locally or come from regional, sustainable sources in Denmark.
Vegan dishes are not marked as such on the menu. They are simply good options to choose from. Naturally vegan. And they are delicious. Overall, the menue offers food that meets the highest demands. Bread and cakes are made in-house and are of the best quality. Actually, the fresh, crispy and still warm bread with the spread could be enough – add a glass of wine and the enjoyment is complete.
But then you would miss the excellent “Faroese Beef* · Beef Glace”. A meat dish that looks like a beef tournedo but is made with braised pulled beef. And the wine has its own story too! A separate label of organic wine from Italy in white and red, which is transported to Denmark by train (!). Sustainability for wine and way, so to speak. At 5 o’clock in the afternoon every guest can enjoy a free glass of this special wine. The comfortable furniture for relaxing while drinking your treat of wine, also has its own background – it comes from Bilbao by STUA furniture, a small family business. The most beautiful and hard-wearing fabrics for the covers were selected together with the manufacturers. The leftover pieces of fabric from the cutting were then used to design the lamps – the owner, furniture manufacturer and lamp company worked together to find the most sustainable solution.
For examples and photos of dishes, see the Húsagarður restaurant menu.
How is the reaction of the international guests to the food concept?
All Danish guests are enthusiastic – especially those from Copenhagen – they are used to a well-developed vegan and sustainable range. Norwegians prefer white bread, they still have to get used to the wholegrain varieties of bread. German visitors coming here are generally very nature-oriented and open to everything that is sustainable and healthy.
With the proximity of the hotel to the park and the art museum, in connection with the fitness room, sauna and hot tubs, it is a perfect hotel for culture, yoga and nature lovers. All rooms are sustainably furnished and have luxurious beds. Renowned Faroese artist Edward Fuglø has decorated every room with his unique piece ‘Landmark’. Walk over to the National Museum to see his fabulous works there and you can be proud to sleep under one original painting of Fuglø.
To learn more about the rooms and the eco-friendly concept please check the website of Hotel Brandan, where you will find some interesting stories about the place, the concept and the ongoing efforts to be an eco-friendly hotel.
When asked about his personal vision for the development of the hotel, Rógvi replies:
“We would like to grow all agricultural products ourselves in order to be independent and to be able to provide for all companies in our group in the long term. I would like to build a Green House for guests to learn about our local farming methods in a lush and green atmosphere – experience coupled with sustainable benefit. The best way forward.
How important do you think certification measures are?
“They are a good point of reference and the framework for sensible and sustainable management. On this basis you continue to learn and can develop your own ideas and improvements. Certification is the necessary impulse needed for more engagement and a learning process.
We deliberately did not put our sustainability in the foreground – we understand sustainability in construction, management, maintenance, food and all other areas as a natural approach for our destination. Only if all services and products are sustainable can we ensure a healthy tourism industry in the long term.
More stories showcasing sustainability aspects relevant for international events are shared in Visit Faroe Islands Meetings LinkedIn profile – make sure to follow the LinkedIn showcase!
Johanna Fischer for Visit Faroe Islands Meetings, March 2022