The unbeatable combination of authentic ingredients, a good splash of imagination and plenty of flair has proved to be a winning recipe for Hotel Chocolat in the UK and beyond. Starting as a mail order catalogue business, the company now stretches from its own cocoa estate in St Lucia to more than 40 shops in the UK and two new stores in Boston, US.

For Hotel Chocolat, flair and imagination aren’t just reserved for making chocolate, they’re also an integral part of how their products look, too – presenting them in a way that adds drama, excitement and style to the experience. This means that their packaging not only needs to be robust enough to withstand the rigours of the postal service, but it also needs to be eye-catching and stylish too.

Korsnäs White for packaging impact and durability

Korsnäs has been Hotel Chocolat’s packaging partner for several years. In the first instance it was because of the strength of the board, but after the launch of Korsnäs White they found they could also use it to achieve their luxurious design effects. Hotel Chocolat has a well-developed environmental policy, and since they can now buy the material FSC-labelled, the partnership has grown. Today they buy most of their packaging material from Korsnäs.

“We use Korsnäs White because the board has a strength that has allowed us to downweight the board and improve efficiency,” says Sarah Bunday, packaging innovator at Hotel Chocolat. “This material also provides a good base for our challenging designs and finishes.”

Engaged ethics – from the bean to the bar

It’s incredibly rare to find a chocolatier that is involved in growing cocoa these days; the vast majority prefer to buy their chocolate ready-made from specialists. Hotel Chocolat, however, have moved in the opposite direction with the acquisition in 2006 of the Rabot Estate on the Caribbean island of St Lucia. They don’t just grow their own cocoa on this historic 140-acre cocoa plantation, though. They also reach out to the wider cocoa-growing community with their Engaged Ethics Cocoa Programme. Besides providing help and advice on farming techniques, it also guarantees to buy all quality cocoa that farmers in the programme wish to sell, at prices above the world market price.

The next exciting step is to build a chocolate factory on the estate, which will convert cocoa from St Lucia and other islands into top-quality chocolate for export to the UK and US. The factory will be designed with visitors in mind, allowing locals and visitors to learn about chocolate-making at first hand. Meanwhile, plans to build an actual Hotel Chocolat are already nearing completion. It promises to be a unique experience, with a boutique hotel set in the tranquil surroundings of a working cocoa plantation, where guests can learn all about cocoa and chocolate making – as well as being pampered and soothed. Nothing seems impossible for this fast growing company.