19. September 2023

COCO – THE Boutique Hotel in Kopenhagen

Coco Hotel Copenhagen/Denmark

The Boutique Hotel Coco in Copenhagen was recently voted “BEST HOTEL IN SCANDINAVIA” by Travel & Leisure and can be rightly proud of this award.

I had the pleasure of speaking to Matthias Timmermann, General Manager of the Coco Hotel, about the boutique hotel's sustainable focus.

From him I learned what it means to run a hotel in the green city of Copenhagen. Why he believes in a sustainable future. And what's currently happening in the hotel industry in the Danish capital.




“We believe in a sustainable future” is a slogan on Coco’s website. How did that happen?

Lobby at Coco Hotel

Matthias: We are very aware that as a hotel we have a significant carbon footprint due to the many guests who visit us and the services we provide to them. Our parent company Cofoco started in 2004 by opening a restaurant here in Copenhagen. And now we have 16 restaurants as well as the Coco Hotel. And next year we will open 3 new restaurants and 1 hotel. Our goal is therefore to reduce our footprint as much as possible and contribute to a sustainable future. That's why we're working on several initiatives that bring about positive changes that benefit the environment. Cofoco started many years ago by planting a tree for every guest who visited one of our restaurants. Starting from that, we have done many small things to become more and more sustainable. We simply try to become a little better every day.



What positive effects does being sustainable have for the hotel?

Matthias: Sustainable action sometimes requires additional effort and it is not always easy to find good solutions. However, people like what we do and that naturally motivates us in our actions. But at the same time, I think doing positive things is a MUST when running a business these days. If not, you will quickly fall behind and experience negative effects. At least this applies to Copenhagen. It's about doing more than others and showing yourself authentically. In Copenhagen almost every hotel is part of the Green Key program, which is very nice. The Green Key Award is the leading standard for excellence in environmental stewardship in the tourism industry.

In Germany we have big problems finding people who want to work in the hotel industry. What is the situation in Denmark and at the Coco Hotel?

Hotel room at Coco

Matthias: I would say it's not so much a problem finding staff. It is more of a problem to find qualified staff. It has become very difficult to find particularly good chefs and also good service staff. We have people applying for a service position who have never worked in a restaurant before and, for example, do not know how to open a bottle of wine correctly. Which is totally understandable if you've never done this before. But of course, learning it requires a lot of time and effort from the entire team, which can be very tiring. Fewer and fewer young people are choosing the hospitality industry as their career path. As a result, there is a lack of trained personnel throughout the tourism sector.

Does sustainability help with this problem?

Matthias: Yes, I do think that you have an advantage in the “battle for talent” if you act sustainably as a company. This is particularly well received by young people. They are very much aware that something has to change and they support companies with a clear goal and authentic actions. I even believe that you have disadvantages in the recruiting process if you as a company completely ignore sustainability.

Let’s talk about Coco’s supply chain – where does Coco source its products?

Culinary at Coco

Matthias: When it comes to food and drinks, we have a mix. Most of the products we need in big amounts we buy from a wholesaler and try to order in bulk to minimize transportation costs. But we also have small local producers from whom we source things locally and in very high quality. We select our products very carefully. Our goal is to purchase products that are both local AND organic. We do not see regionality alone as an advantage. If the product is neither organic nor environmentally friendly, we won't buy it. But we also choose sustainable options whenever possible for all other things that are needed in a hotel, e.g. our organic bed linen.

What will the food and beverage offerings of the future look like?

Matthias: That is very difficult to say. Copenhagen is a food capital, home to some of the best restaurants such as NOMA and Geranium. Nordic cuisine is very popular. But people also want to try food from all over the world. And that is often the opposite of sustainability. That doesn't necessarily have to be negative. It just forces restaurants and hotels to find solutions.

What does sustainability management look like at Coco?

Cafe at Coco

Matthias: With our participation in the Green Key program, we have a very good guideline that we are happy to follow. Once a quarter our environmental management group meets and we talk about what we have done in the last few months and what we will do in the coming months. For example: In one quarter we focus on reducing our paper waste and develop a plan to achieve this. Let's say one milestone might be to reduce the number of paper registration forms at check-in by encouraging guests to check in online. Of course just a small step. But with 89 rooms over the entire year, this small step makes a difference.

Are environmental impacts documented and tracked at Coco?

Matthias: Yes. For example, we keep precise records of our CO2 emissions from Scope 1-3. This means that we have an overview of most processes in our hotel and can directly influence them. In addition, we receive monthly reports from our suppliers on the environmental impact of the products we have purchased or commissioned. For example, the company that cleans our bed linen regularly sends us a report on how cleaning and transporting our bed linen affects the environment. So we don't just record the environmental impacts that arise directly in the hotel. But also those caused in our supply chain.

And what happens to these numbers?

Matthias: Every year we prepare a report on our carbon footprint based on the number of our guests. This value needs to be reduced further bit by bit. All the small actions we take always pursue this goal.

What about compensation?

Decoration at Coco

Matthias: First of all, we try to reduce the negative impact of our actions as much as possible. In addition, we support a tree planting project in Kenya, where we plant trees on behalf of our guests through our partner Eden Reforestation Projects. At more than 45 different project locations in Kenya, we support the production, planting, cultivation and protection of trees for the benefit of the climate, the environment and local communities. And the Coco Hotel is powered by green energy since Cofoco built a 6-hectare solar energy park in Nees, northwest Jutland. The solar panels produce such a large amount of sustainable energy that Cofoco's solar farm not only powers the Coco Hotel and Cofoco's 16 restaurants, but also feeds solar energy into the national grid.

How does Coco address the problem of waste? ​

Matthias: All our waste is sorted into 10 different fractions, which is required by law for all companies in Denmark. Each individual type of waste is weighed by the disposal company when it is collected and the weight is recorded. We receive a monthly report and know exactly how much paper waste, plastic or food waste we have produced. Our ongoing goal is to reduce the amount of waste per guest and we are taking steps to keep getting better.

What do these actions look like?

Matthias: When it comes to food waste, we take a close look at our guests' plates. When we notice that certain items are often left over, we reduce portions and offer guests the opportunity to reorder for free if they want more. We offer food that has been prepared for events but not completely consumed to homeless shelters for collection. And our employees are also welcome to eat them or take them home. We try a lot of things so we don't have to throw away good food.

How is sustainability communicated in Coco?

Hotel room at Coco

Matthias: We are very careful not to communicate things that we cannot clearly prove, as that would be greenwashing. We communicate what we do, but not what the effects are. So we like to talk about how many trees we have planted, that we give guests who arrive by bike a 10% discount, that we have a solar farm and that our suppliers are sustainable, etc. And of course this is also a selling point . But mostly we say it because we're proud of it, not because we want to benefit from it.

What about the mobility of guests and employees?

Matthias: Almost all employees come to work by bike or subway. So this is already very environmentally friendly.
When it comes to our guests' mobility, we take measures to reduce the carbon footprint. Initially, we wanted to reward guests who could prove that they traveled by public transport. But it was hard to explain that we don't want to encourage guests who fly in and then take the train to get from the airport to the city center. That's why we've changed the promotion and are now giving guests who can prove they are traveling by bike a 10% discount on their stay. For the taxis that we order for our guests, we use the company Viggo, which only uses electric cars. And we have bikes that we rent to our guests at a good price so that they can easily explore Copenhagen by bike.

How can hotels get started with sustainability?

Bar at Coco

Matthias: Getting started is easier than you think and doing something is always better than doing nothing. Therefore, I would recommend making a plan of what smaller and larger things you want to change as a company. And then you start with small actions and work your way forward step by step. I also recommend the Green Key program, which provides very clear and simple guidelines for hotels, hostels, restaurants, etc. to become more environmentally friendly. Green Keymstarted in Copenhagen, but is now an international program and has already helped many companies around the world get started with sustainability.

*** Thank you, Matthias, for this very friendly and open conversation!

It's so nice to see where the journey can go if more and more people and companies take action. Sustainability can be the new “normal” – the example of Copenhagen shows this beautifully!



Would you also like to develop your company sustainably? DAS HELDEN ATELIER would be happy to support you on your journey. Take a look around the website right here and get in touch with me. I look forward to hearing from you: your ideas, goals and your company!

Your Sandra Wacker


Cookies on helden-atelier.com

Our website uses cookies to collect anonymised information about the use of the website by visitors. By clicking the "Agree" button, you agree to the use of cookies. Further information about the use of cookies or about changing your settings can be found in our data protection declaration.