Meet the owners: Karen Nedegaard of the Andersen, Copenhagen, Denmark

Nathalie Salas Nathalie Salas Uploaded

Karen Nedegaard is the general manager of one of the newest boutique hotels in Copenhagen, Denmark. Karen and her family own The Andersen in addition to their founding hotel, the 11-room Absalon, which was created by her grandparents in 1938. When Karen's father and his brother were old enough to join the family business, they acquired the neigbouring properties in order to expand the hotel to 270 rooms.

In 2012, the 73-room Andersen hotel undertook a six-month renovation to convert it from a standard tourist hotel to a more design-led boutique hotel. With the new look, they also undertook a rebranding exercise and renamed the hotel using the family name Andersen.

How did you get in the hotel business and when did you become GM of the Andersen?

I am the third generation hotelier of the Andersen family. Starting from a young age, I started serving breakfast, cleaning rooms and helping out in reception. After high school I also created a summer café in the Absalon Hotel named "Café Karen". After I graduated in hotel management in Switzerland, I worked abroad for many years for hotels in London, Thailand, Paris, Zürich and Geneva. I became general manager of the Absalon Hotel in 2002 and then took over as general manger of Andersen Hotel (formerly Selandia Hotel) in 2010. In 2011, I also did an Executive MBA from Copenhagen Business School in order to improve my strategy, management and leadership skills. 

Why did you decide to refurbish the Andersen into a design hotel? 

The existing hotel required a refurbishment and initially we were just going to refresh a couple of floors.  Then I thought it would be a good idea to differentiate the hotel from a design aspect. The majority of hotels in Copenhagen use the minimalistic Danish design philosophy, which I like a lot. But the vision I had was to stand out and show something new - to offer a functional, well thought-through designer decorated hotel with modern facilities.

In the end we refurbished the entire hotel using a design that instilled practicality but at the same time great design using daring colours. It's definitely the type of hotel I personally would choose and like to stay in - new, fresh and innovative.

Consumers even at the luxury end of the scale are now looking to spend their money in a smarter way, looking for value-added benefits when staying in hotels. How have you adapted to this situation without comprising your room rates?

Offering free Wi-Fi is an absolute must these days. For the type of hotel that we operate, there shouldn't be any excuses but to offer it for free. We also provide guests with a mobile throughout the stay so they can make free local calls, in addition to a complimentary breakfast buffet, and evening entertainment with selected DJs in our lounge, with a complimentary drink offer.

Additionally, while also doing my MBA, I to wanted to find a way in which we could deepen our value offering and to help develop a stronger affinity amongst our guests. Through analysing our internal operations, I developed "CONCEPT24" which allows the guest to keep their room for 24 hours no matter what time they check in at no extra cost. It has worked out well for our guests and we have received amazing feedback. What's important to me is that if there is more value that we can provide to guests, without impacting operational costs, why not offer it?

With the "experience" now such an important factor for luxury travel consumers, how do you combine the hotel's attributes with Copenhagen as a travel destination and what experiences to you provide to your hotel guests?

It's important for our guests to really experience the authentic Copenhagen.  As the Danes live on bicycles, we offer free bike rental for our guests so that they can explore and move around the city exactly like a Dane does. Even the area of Vestero, where the Andersen Hotel is situated is an experience in itself.  It really has a raw, eclectic and authentic ambience.  In recent years, the area has experienced a revival and has really been transformed in to a hip and trendy neighbourhood.

Nathalie Salas is a writer for Perfect Boutique Hotel, a website dedicated to readers who have a passion for boutique and lifestyle hotels. She is a also a freelance consultant specialising in hospitality and tourism, helping small businesses improve their marketing and branding on an international level. Nathalie is British and lives in Asolo, Italy.

Follow her on Twitter: @perfectboutique


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