Heart of the Matter

Love for Helsinki and Finland motivated billionaire Petter Stordalen to buy Kämp Collection Hotels

artikkelikuva: Heart of the Matter

The Helsinki hotel scene experienced a major quake in the fall as Kämp Collection Hotels – the leading luxury and lifestyle hotel group in Finland – was acquired by Nordic Choice Hotels. The “crown jewel” in the Kämp Collection portfolio is the legendary Hotel Kämp, established in 1887.

Nordic Choice Hotels is one of the leading hotel companies in the Nordic countries, known in Finland for its Clarion Hotels and the Nordic Hotels & Resorts portfolio consisting of independent hotel brands. Petter A. Stordalen, the founder of Nordic Choice Hotels and the new owner of Kämp Collection Hotels, says that the move made great business sense since Helsinki is a trending destination internationally as well as domestically.

“When we got the chance to buy Kämp, it was a temptation that I could not resist,” he says, adding that this deal also marks a “new important chapter” for Nordic Choice Hotels. The acquisition was finalized on 9 October 2019.

“In 2016, we opened our first two Clarion hotels in Finland, and the Finnish boutique hotel F6 in Helsinki also became part of the portfolio in 2016,” he looks back at recent additions to the ranks.

(From left to right) Ari Tolppanen, former Chairman of the Board for Kämp Collection Hotels Oy, Laura Tarkka, CEO for Kämp Collection Hotels Oy and Petter A. Stordalen, Nordic Choice Hotels.

Eye on Quality

With over 200 hotels in over 100 destinations, Nordic Choice Hotels wants to “become the best and most diverse hotel company” in the Nordic Region, Stordalen says.

“Expansion in Finland is therefore an important step.” Nordic Choice Hotels has hotels also in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Baltic countries.

In addition to flag ship Hotel Kämp, the Kämp Collection includes Hotel St. George, Klaus K Hotel, Hotel Haven, Hotel Lilla Roberts, Hotel Fabian, and four GLO hotels. Kämp Collection Hotels was previously owned by CapMan Buyout funds and other owners.

How about the over-all hotels market in the Nordics – what will happen in the hospitality business in the 2020s? – Stordalen responds that the old North is certainly heating up.

“We see that more and more people are discovering this part of the globe. When they come here, we will offer them a nice bed, good meeting opportunities and good food and drinks. The Nordic countries have incredible potential and we are doing what we can to attract more people here,” he lays out the game plan.

Long-time Love Affair

Stordalen has a long-standing relationship with Helsinki and Finland that is quite uncomplicated. He describes it with one word: Love.

Petter A. Stordalen, Nordic Choice Hotels.

“I have spent a lot of time here and I can reveal that it is a love that never ends. I love the people, the architecture, the ability of the people to roll up their sleeves and get things done. It is a wonderful country and now I have the privilege of having Helsinki’s best hotel to offer visitors.”

Stordalen feels that the values of Nordic Choice Hotels and those of the Kämp Collection Hotels are “very similar” – and, in fact, the guests and employees are at the Photo: Nordic Choice Hotels heart of the operations for both organizations.

“We can ensure that the quality of operations will keep rising even higher, and we can develop and expand operations of the hotels even further,” he says.

Dream Come True

Stordalen admits to having been dreaming about being part of Kämp’s future development for a while now – and is overjoyed for meeting this objective.

“From now on, Kämp and Nordic Choice Hotels are a team and I am convinced that this is the start of something very exciting,” Stordalen says.

While Kämp Collection Hotels is known for its luxury hotels, Nordic Choice Hotels is all about versatility, providing a full range of accommodation services, including full service, mid-priced and budget hotels.

There’s more to come, too: In September, Stordalen announced a plan to build two new hotels at the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. The hotels are scheduled to open their doors in 2023, with the cost of the construction project topping 120 million euros – making this undertaking the biggest hotel project in the land.

Just Getting Started

No surprise then, that Stordalen sees “huge growth potential” in the Helsinki accommodation market. This is just the beginning, he says.

“My aim is to achieve a 25–30 % market share in all capitals in the Nordics. I still want to add 2,000 hotel rooms to the supply in Helsinki.”

The track record of Kämp Collection Hotels is certainly something to write home about. The year 2018 was the fourth consecutive year of growth for Kämp Collection Hotels and during 2019, Kämp has seen an even stronger increase in the business.

In fact, the value of the entire Helsinki metropolitan hotel market increased by 9 percentage points in January–June 2019. Kämp Collection Hotels’ share of the growth of the travel market value during that time period was more than 25 %.

Nordic Choice Hotels, on the other hand, has been nominated the best hotel chain in the Nordic region for three years in a row, as well as the best hotel chain in Norway for nine consecutive years in Grand Hotel Awards.

Text by Sami J. Anteroinen

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