Mild winters and improved air travel connections make the Faroe Islands a year-round destination, as the country makes headlines for its stunning natural beauty, rising culinary status and excellent conference facilities.
Since the general upgrade of Hotel Føroyar a few years ago, a steady stream of positive developments have taken place in the Faroe Islands from a business travel perspective. For one thing, the islanders have gone out of their way to make the country more accommodating for conference goers and tourists — air travel has been made more convenient and more regular, new local tour products have emerged ranging from team building adventures to sea fishing and birdwatching, and the culture and entertainment scene has undergone a makeover with new clubs, cafes and restaurants popping up, especially in the capital Tórshavn.
Hotel Føroyar has been at the center of this process and is making no secret of its ambition to up the game further. The four-star hotel with its signature grass turf roof and spectacular panorama over Tórshavn — the Faroe Islands’ only five-star conference venue — has also played a pivotal part in the quiet revolution that has transformed Faroese dining cuisine, especially when it comes to fine dining.
KOKS, a gourmet restaurant located at and owned by the hotel, is fast becoming an international sensation — with some guests even flying to the Faroes for the sole purpose of experiencing the culinary wonders from local celebrity chef Leif Sørensen.
Mr. Sørensen was part of a group of Nordic chefs that helped draft the ‘New Nordic Cuisine’ manifesto in Denmark back in 2005, setting off a phenomenon that soon became widely famous, outlining the core principles behind some the world’s top gourmet restaurants, including Copenhagen’s Noma and Oslo’s Maaemo Restaurant.
“We knew that trying to market any single Nordic country’s cuisine as a serious contender to French or Italian was never going to work,” Mr. Sørensen said. “Instead, we had this vision of a common platform that could provide the resources and the background to build a more compelling case.
“We believe strongly in the idea of combining this regional culture with the more specific domestic heritage of each place while keeping international standards. Local sourcing is a significant aspect to the whole concept and it fits perfectly with the other principles we adhere to, such as always using top quality raw materials and considering the environmental impact of what we do.”
Whether it’s fermented sheep, seaweed, or the most delicious cod you can imagine, KOKS will serve Faroese specialties in style—minimalist, elegant style, that is.
‘Amazed’: A growing number of internationally recognized chefs have been visiting the KOKS and, according to Hotel Føroyar, have been astonished by the quality and originality of the food. For instance, most of the farmed salmon from the Faroe Islands is of such high caliber as to make it hardly distinguishable from wild caught salmon. Many also find the sheep meat to be outstanding. Then, of course, Mr. Sørensen’s way of preparing such foods brings it to a whole new dimension.
International praise has been lavished on KOKS and Hotel Føroyar itself as well as other aspects of it, including CoastZone North Atlantic, one of the partnerships that the hotel is involved in.
Opinions voiced by delegates participating at corporate events at Hotel Føroyar has been “beyond encouraging,” according to sales manager Thora Augustinussen. “We have had, for example, conferences combined with outdoor team-building activities and more, and the response has been overwhelming. Much of it has been taking place outside the summer season and that makes perfect sense, because the Faroes has a relatively even climate throughout the year.
“People are amazed by the view and the natural surroundings. Two leading figures from a world-renowned architecture and engineering company said this ‘beats any urban hotel, anytime!’ That’s quite a statement.”
Ms. Augustinussen was recently hired specifically to bring conferences, courses and other corporate events to the attention of more businesses in Denmark and other northern European countries.
“Our winters are mild,” she noted, and rightly so. The temperature in the Faroe Islands seldom drops below zero Centigrade and when it does, it hardly hits minus 3, which is considered very cold. “It can be windy and rainy but quite frankly, it’s not much of a problem if you know what to expect. After all, your seminars or conference will be taking place indoors and as far as concerns your outdoor activities, well, you will enjoy the weather for what it is. You may experience all four seasons in a day, and that will only add to the excitement of your activity.”