Archive for March, 2010

Danhostel Ribe – An eco-friendly hostel in Ribe, Denmark

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Danhostel Ribe is uniquely located in Denmark’s oldest town with access to the Wadden Sea National Park and a beautiful view of Ribe Cathedral, the city and the stream through Ribe. The current manager, Jens Philipsen and his wife, Gudrun Rishede took over the hostel in 1986. As former schoolteachers they possess certain core values that they want to implement in the management of the hostel. Personally and as managers of the hostel they hold a sustainable and eco-friendly mentality, by which the place is greatly characterized.

ribe-hostel-and-ribe-cathedral View from Danhostel Ribe Danhostel Ribe and Ribe River

From the beginning the couple has focused on moving away the traditional hostel-image with dormitories, bunk beds, smelly socks and fleshpots. Instead they want the hostel to be a modern and sustainable hostel for all target groups. Moreover, they focus on eco-friendly and sustainable solutions and in 1997 they became, as first movers, members of Green Key, an international environmental label in Danish tourism. The label is an expression of comprehensive environmental considerations. The hostel is one of the few accommodations in South Denmark with this label. The hostel is also a member of “Environmentally Friendly Hotels”, which has put the hostel on the list “Best Green Hotels” – this list has put the hostel among the 40 most environmentally friendly in the world among more than 3500 hotels, inns, hostels etc.

Ecolabels at Danhostel Ribe: Green Key and Best Green Hotels

Ecolabels at Danhostel Ribe:
Green Key and Best Green Hotels at  Environmentally Friendly Hotels

The management and operations of the hostel have gone through a lot of changes since 1986 due to both the guidelines of Green Key and the managers own core values. The hostel has a fundamental environmental policy that, amongst others, states that:
– Only rustic and maintenance-free materials are used
– The place uses energy management to reduce the amount of electricity and heat and practices water conservation by using water and shower filters
– All cleaning detergents etc. are eco-friendly
– All staff members are trained in being and acting ”green” and in communicating the green way of thinking to the guests
– The guests are informed about the green way of thinking and are encouraged to conform to the green thinking and also to come up with new initiatives
– The kitchen uses partly organic products, bakes and makes a lot of foodstuffs, uses also partly homegrown herbs, fruits and berries and local products
– The place has an effective waste separation
– The hostel has a sustainable location from where one can walk or ride a bike to most attractions 
Jens Philipsen and his wife, Gudrun Rishede consistently focus on finding new ways in which the hostel might become even more eco-friendly and sustainable. The green way of thinking has never been just a trend the couple chose to follow. It is a core value and a lifestyle they have incorporated in the concept of the hostel since they took over in 1986. There is no doubt about that the couple is on the right path and that green values gain ground with more and more tourists. Lots of tourists are impressed with the eco-friendly approach, but it is not just environmentally conscious guests who visit the hostel. It is a mix of those who are very environmentally conscious and chose the hostel due to the environmental policy, those who do not chose the hostel due to the policy but appreciate the initiatives and those who do not care at all.
The guests at the hostel are tourists, school classes and conference- and course participants. Surprisingly, the tourists represent most of the overnights stays and not school classes, which might have been expected. Most tourists are from Denmark, but a lot of international tourists also visit the hostel – more than most other hostels in Denmark.

Danhostel Ribe.  Arrival and Welcome

Danhostel Ribe. Arrival and Welcome

At arrival guests will receive information about what to see and do in and around Ribe town and the Wadden Sea National Park – A plethora of environmentally friendly expierences.

The hostel has a lot of loyal guests and the percentage of guests revisiting or recommending the place to family and friends is between 70 and 80. School classes are also extremely loyal and several schools have visited the hostel every year for over 20 years. The current challenge is to attract more conference guests and the hostel has become a part of Green Conferences and hopes that this membership will lead to more companies and organizations arranging conferences and the like at the hostel. Attracting green tourists is also challenging, since the repeat-visitor percentage among tourists are due to the atmosphere, service and location and only occasionally due to the green initiatives.     

Furthermore, it is also a great challenge to be green, as it entails a lot of rules and self-regulation. It is, for instance, difficult to manage rules from respectively Levnedsmiddelstyrelsen (governing body of the food industry) and Green Key, as some of the rules may seem contradictory. Another challenge with working with Green Key is the perception and use of locally produced products in proportion to imported organic products and whether to use homegrown organic vegetables and fruits that do not have the official eco-label and therefore is not a part of the norms of Green Key.
For that reason it can be demanding and challenging to follow the rules of Green Key and to develop the business both environmentally and financially. The leaders of Danhostel hoped that the membership of Green Key would be beneficial, but they expect the membership will become a part of the future success stories. Hereby, they pass the ball on to the organization managing the Green Key concept, as they believe that Green Key ought to become more visible to tourists and companies through purposeful marketing.  

Though the output of the membership of Green Key is not positive and clear yet, and the increase in overnight stays by green tourists is not noticeable so far, the leaders still see the green profile as an advantage. The green way of thinking is innovative and noteworthy compared to competitors in the area and forms the basis of differentiated marketing. Danish interest groups have also shown interest in the hostel. And the hostel has increasingly attracted international attention, as Danhostel is featured on numerous English-speaking homepages about green tourism. For instance at Best Green Hotels and  Environmentally Friendly Hotels

Wadden Sea National Park - just outside the hostel

Wadden Sea National Park - just outside the hostel

In the long run the development of a national park in the Wadden Sea area will benefit the hostel. Danhostel expects that most of the tourists visiting the national park will have a green mindset with great emphasis on nature and the environment. For that reason the hostel hopes for an increase in green tourists in the future. The manager, Jens Philipsen has a great wish for adding more rooms and also for expanding and improving the conference facilities. Such buildings must be built with emphasis on an energy effective and eco-friendly “zero” solution.

You can also read about the hostel and find a lot of eco-friendly activities like a historical town walk in Ribe and “Black Sun” (migration starlings performing air ballet) on the hostel’s own homepage: Danhostel Ribe and discuss with us here on innotour, on our blog: Danhostel Ribe blog and our facebook

 Danhostel Ribe at the border of the Wadden Sea National Park's Ribe marshland has "Sea view", when the marshland is flooded due to accumulated water from the hinterland, - logged water that cannot reach the sea due to the closing of the Kammerslusen (Ribe Waterway Lock)  in stormy weatherDanhostel Ribe at the border of the Wadden Sea National Park has “Sea view”, when the Ribe marshland is flooded due to accumulated water from the hinterland, – logged water that cannot reach the sea due to the closing of the Kammerslusen (Ribe Waterway Lock) in stormy weather

Self service spa pampering

Sunday, March 7th, 2010


The Anttolanhovi Wellness Village is situated on the shore of Lake Saimaa in Finland. Anttolanhovi aims to bring Finnish know-how, such as art, design furniture, and locally produced food to the spa experience.  As a response to both the demands of the customers and the need to ensure financial sustainability, the enterprise attempts to develop high class and quality to a a self-service concept.

A distinct concept is the ‘wellness bar’ (following the idea of minibar), which can be found in all villas. The bars are filled with Finnish wellness and well being products from Lumene and Cutrin (both labels owned by LUMENE Oy). The intention is to give customers the possibility to pamper themselves in the villas. Skincare products come from Lumene and hair care products from Cutrin. All the products are manufactured in Finland. It is also possible for guests to buy these products from the Anttolanhovi shop.

Lumene was the first cosmetic business that used berry oils in cosmetic products. The primary raw materials in their products are cloudberry, blackcurrant, cranberry, blueberry, lingonberry, birch, linen, heather and peat. All the raw materials are gathered from arctic areas – the plants and berries accumulate nutrients and vitamins during the short and intensive growing period. Studies have shown that arctic berries are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and essential fatty acids (omegas). Lumene aims for their products to include at least 80% natural ingredients. The company also cooperates with The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation and Allergy and Asthma Federation, which is a non-profit public health organization. Cutrin’s products are designed especially for Nordic hair types and they contain ingredients similar to those in the Lumene products.

Customer feedback on the wellness bars has been very positive. The hotel manager of Anttolanhovi declares that the products of Lumene and Cutrin are supporting the whole business concept of Anttolanhovi. The co-operation started when the hotel manager of Anttolanhovi had a meeting in the Lumene factory and got a positive reception to the wellness bar idea. After presenting the idea to Lumene, she consulted with Lumene on which products would be suitable for the wellness bar. At the moment, the co-operation can be observed on the spot in Anttolanhovi as an active example of co-branding. However, neither of the businesses mention the co-operation on their websites.

Mandø Soaps – working with local ingredients of the Wadden Sea

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Many local destinations seek to innovate the tourism product by creating alliances between core tourism providers and producers of “signature” products. Signature products tell a story about the destination and help to create memorable experiences for the tourists. Signature products are for example food and drink items used in restaurants. Most signature products can be taken back as souvenirs and gifts.


 The Danish Wadden Sea area is popular among German tourist who enjoy the human scale and the proximity to nature. For the local tourism business it is, however, a challenge to maintain a viable business over all seasons. Therefore, a collaborative network – VADEHAVSPRODUKTER – has been created in order to enhance the links between the producers and tourism. It is essential to ensure an efficient transfer of knowledge and inspiration. The members are all constantly – individually and in collaboration – looking out for local ingredients and resources which can be utilized for products with special local distinctions and appeal to the tourists.

One of the producers in the network is Mandø Soap. It is a very small scale producer of traditional soaps, which signals the visual and mental images of the marsh landscapes. Mandø is an island with an extensive sheep production, and a main ingredient in the soap is the tallow from the local sheep. Other ingredients are imported such as coconut oil, almond oil and natural scents. Due to the lack of artificial ingredients Mandø soaps are claimed to be beneficial for persons suffering from allergic reactions. This has, however, not been tested, documented or declared, although the recipes are based on well-known traditional soap production procedures. A main geographical “signature” ingredient is the lamb tallow. The owner, Lotte Stensig, is currently considering other local ingredients, but she finds that the extraction of for example fragrances from plants will require a larger production or a partnership with specialized suppliers. 

The owner of the firm puts her products up for sale mainly in touristic craft shops, museum gift shops etc. It is very complex for a production orientated manager to undertake systematic sales activities, and only in collaboration with others it will be possible systematically to approach for example hotels, spa and wellness facilities.

More about Mandø Soap and the innovation potentials in the network on the VADEHAVSPRDODUKTER website (in Danish)