Where history meets modern society
3 November 2020
The Grand Hôtel in Stockholm has a long and prestigious history. For almost 150 years, the hotel has not only hosted Nobel Prize winners, celebrities and royalty, but also ordinary people looking for something extra. In this feature, Pia Djupmark, CEO of SCC member Grand Group, fills us in on the hotel’s exciting history, upcoming projects and how the hotel moves forward post-pandemic.
With the National Museum next door and a view over the Royal Palace, the Grand Hôtel is located at the very heart of Stockholm. Even though the hotel opened almost 150 years ago, its history still holds a central role in today’s work. Pia Djupmark, CEO of Grand Group explains: “Our history remains in the walls. Strong personalities and role models are still Regis Cadier, Founder of Grand Hôtel, and Wilhelmina Skogh, a former Managing Director of the hotel. They were pioneers and created the most modern hotels of the time and a unique conservatory.” This long-standing history is also a key ingredient that distinguishes Grand Hôtel from other hotels, although Pia points out that excellent service beats everything. “Our location, building, strong brand, and our history are of course invaluable but can never replace the feeling that truly genuine service creates. The hardware can always be copied but the software is in our DNA. The soul of the Grand is to always make people feel welcome, to be the perfect host.”
History meets modern society
To manage the hotel’s history, vision and heritage is a significant task. Today’s society is moving faster than ever before, and keeping up and achieving the balance between treasuring history and welcoming modern aspects is of great importance, according to Pia. “The biggest challenge is to manage a rich heritage yet keeping with the times and developing the hotel, so it stays at the forefront and can meet the future.” Pia, who has worked within the hospitality industry for more than 32 years, highlights how exciting it is with new hotels and different concepts evolving on the expanding Stockholm market.
The Grand Hôtel offers as many as 273 rooms, of which 70 are suites. It is not only a destination to stay overnight – food and drinks also play an important role. Chef Mathias Dahlgren has the award-winning restaurant Matbaren and Rutabaga located at the hotel. Also, the Veranda and Cadier Bar restaurants are to be found at the hotel. Since opening, Grand Hôtel has been host to great events, and is continuing to do so even though the events have changed over the decades, from jazz parties and live orchestras to events such as MTV Video Music Awards, Royal Rehearsal Dinners, Stockholm Fashion Week and the Polar Music Prize.
Ongoing projects in spite of the pandemic
In spite of the pandemic, The Grand Hôtel has several ongoing projects, refurbishments and renovations, and Pia reveals another exciting project – a new champagne bar which will open in September. In addition to this, 19 new rooms are under construction at the Bolinderska Palace, a part of Grand Hôtel which previously has been made up by private homes.
A post-pandemic future
Naturally, the travel and tourist industry has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic throughout the world, and with the pandemic came restrictions. Travel bans both nationally and internationally, Swedish guidelines limiting gatherings to a maximum of 50 people and social distancing, it soon became difficult to operate per usual. “We were quick with an action plan where activities and actions were taken directly to reduce costs and to think creatively regarding income with take-away alternatives,” Pia says. With great uncertainty about what the future holds, Pia explains that it is hard to say when the market will be back on track and that the main focus is to handle the situation and plan for a future where the hotel can adapt to changes. But despite today’s challenges, Pia is certain that The Grand Hôtel will stand strong. “Grand has been around for almost 150 years and will continue to be a hotel and a destination that both Stockholmers and international guests will visit. The world is changing and we will change with it, but there will always be a reason for people to visit us. We will do our utmost in order to make people feel welcome and leave the hotel with memorable experiences,” Pia concludes.