Gothia Towers’ 5-star sister hotel Upper House was named Sweden’s top hotel 2018 in TripAdvisor’s annual Travelers’ Choice Awards.
“Fantastic news! This is the third time we have been awarded this top accolade,” says Elisabeth Thomson, Hotel Director at Gothia Towers.

The Travelers’ Choice Awards are TripAdvisor’s top accolade. They are based on millions of views and opinions from travellers all over the world.
In addition to being named Sweden’s top hotel, Upper House also won in the categories for Sweden’s top hotel for service and Sweden’s top hotel for romance.
“We’re very proud and delighted – the fact that the judges are our guests makes this even more rewarding. We work hard to deliver extraordinary service to all our guests and visitors,” says Elisabeth Thomson.

Travelers’ Choice are annual awards and the only ones in the travel industry to be based on millions of views and opinions from travellers all over the world, and they recognise the top 25 hotels in each category.

Simon Sinek is a leadership expert, motivational speaker, and author of the books Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last. He may be most famous for his TED talk, How great leaders inspire action, which is among the mostwatched talks ever on ted.com.

What makes for good leadership?

“Good leaders understand that they have a responsibility for the people inside their organisations. Leadership is not about being in charge; it’s about taking care of those in your charge. You can’t lead a company; you can only
lead people.”

How does one become a good leader?

“Practice, practice, practice. And you have to fail a lot and you have to try again and again and again. It’s a skill like any other that requires studying and learning and practising. And in time, you gain expertise. It’s the practice of empathy. It’s considering the impact of your decisions on the lives of human beings, not just bottom lines.”

You talk a lot about the circle of safety. What is that?

“There are all kinds of pressures, threats and dangers outside your organisation. Competitive threats, the stock market, economies, all kinds of things. Those things are out of our control and they are constant. The only variables are the conditions inside an organisation and if we feel safe amongst our own. It means we don’t fear each other. Then the natural human reactions to those conditions are trust and cooperation. That’s what I mean by the circle of safety. This can only be achieved with good leadership.”

What happens if you don’t create the circle of safety? 

“The absence of a circle of safety means there is danger outside the organisation and there is danger inside the organisation. And this makes an organisation struggle. 99 percent of the problems that companies face can probably be boiled down to leadership.” You say that leadership is a choice.

What do you mean by that? 

“We can choose to lead an organisation well, or we can choose to lead it poorly. We can choose to prioritize the lives of human beings over our personal interests. How we take care of others is entirely our choosing.”

Do you think that you are an inspiring leader yourself? 

“I work hard to be the leader that I wish I had. And I try to do the things I talk about.”

Three inspiring leaders, according to Simon Sinek: 

  1. The Pope. “Because he stands for something inclusive and is enjoying a popularity even outside the catholic church.”
  2. Lady Gaga. “She offers people who are often treated as misfits a place to belong. And her message is always positive, and always consistent.”
  3. Elon Musk. “He has a vision of the world that is different. And he’s repeated his success multiple times, which is one of the signs of a good leader.”

 

Text: Hanna Klumbies Photo: Hannes Ojensa

Simon Sinek spoke at Hjärntillskott at the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre in November 2015.

Club Gothia Towers is rather unique in its class. The hotel’s loyal guest programme already has no fewer than 28,601 members after just three years. They can all take advantage of a number of enjoyable benefits and activities, as well as discounts.

One such benefit is our loyal guest evenings every Wednesday. These have been running for 20 years now and so have been around significantly longer than the actual loyal guest programme. Every Wednesday a number of our loyal guests, usually around 20-30 people, attend these evening gatherings, generally at our Incontro restaurant or Twentyfourseven café.

“We have also, among other things, attended football and hockey matches, held wine-tasting sessions, enjoyed Christmas buffets, celebrated birthdays and arranged behind-the-scenes tours,” explains Sofia Ekberg, who is in charge of the customer club together with Marcus Eriksson Nordlund.

“Such tours allow you to see how the hotel operates behind the scenes, which most people seem to find very interesting. For example, it’s impressive to see how many tons of laundry we handle every day,” she says.

The loyal guest evenings are also a good opportunity for members to mingle and network.
As a member of our loyal guest club, you can always book rooms at the lowest daily price and you collect points for every krona you spend at the hotel. Points are accumulated not only for the actual overnight stay, but also when you spend in the hotel’s restaurants and spa, and on parking and films, etc. – anything that goes on your room bill.

The points earned can then be used for free nights, vouchers for any of the hotel’s restaurants, spa visits or donations to charity. One feature that is valued by many is the fact that you can also give away free nights to friends and family if you want.

There are different levels of membership depending on the number of hotel nights: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Additional benefits are added at each level, such as restaurant vouchers, late check-out and early check-in, spa entry and discounts on spa treatments.

“We are continuously trying to develop our loyal guest programme, partly to make it as simple as possible to be a member and partly with partnerships. We currently have great offers with Sixt Biluthyrning and BRA flyg,” says Marcus Eriksson Nordlund.

The “most loyal guest” in 2016 spent 108 nights at Hotel Gothia Towers. However, this is still well behind the previous year, when one guest spent a total of 162 nights at the hotel! Now fortunately there is no minimum requirement for number of nights in order to become a member of our loyal guest club. In fact, all you need to do is visit the website and register. And you can start collecting points from your very first visit.

 

Find out more about Club Gothia Towers >>

StamgäsEtkväll vinprovning gothia towers
Winetasting session with Club Gothia Towers

Today the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre presents the third phase of its expansion plans up until 2030. The planned expansion includes larger entrances, flexible meeting and event facilities and increased hotel capacity. In this third phase, focus will be placed on building a larger main entrance with a terrace and a hotel and office complex beside Korsvägen, a central hub in the events district of Gothenburg. The plans are ready and construction of the new entrances will start in 2017.

“In the past two years we have achieved organic growth of 35 percent and increased our number of visits by 30 percent,” says Carin Kindbom, President and CEO of the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, of which Gothia Towers is a part. “We need to speed up our expansion to maximise our potential to grow internationally and attract more visitors to Gothenburg. Our vision is to create Europe’s most attractive venue by offering the best overall experience.

Because of the market’s demands and the opening of Västlänken station next to Korsvägen, we are prioritising the construction of new, larger entrances. Construction will start in 2017.

“Upgrading our entrances will enable us to increase our visitor capacity, so that we can carry out a greater number and variety of events simultaneously. The enlarged main entrance onto Korsvägen will give us the space necessary to receive larger groups of visitors. The final phase of our expansion is now in place, including larger entrances, flexible meeting and event facilities and increased hotel capacity. We have now clarified our goals and plans up until 2030,” says Carin.

The new hotel and office building next to Korsvägen, a central hub in the events district of Gothenburg, is expected to have over 30 storeys.

“This will give us capacity for about 350 additional hotel rooms and more office and meeting rooms,” says Carin. “The plans also include building another hotel and office building beside Mölndalsån at a later stage. We aim to achieve a total hotel capacity of roughly 2,000 rooms by 2030.”

The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre is a financially independent foundation with no owners or investors. All investment and funding is done on the Foundation’s merits and all the surplus is reinvested in the business.

“The Foundation’s mission is to promote industry in West Sweden, and as these investments are gradually implemented, we will see increasingly strong spin-off effects on local tourism. This will benefit the whole city and local region,” says Roger Holtback, the Foundation’s Chairman of the Board.

The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre’s plans were presented in a manifesto in 2015. The investment plan up until 2030 is estimated to cost SEK 4-5 billion.

“Gothenburg is an exciting and fast-growing city, and this growth trend will continue for many years given the historic construction boom that is just beginning. With our expansion plans, we aim to contribute to Gothenburg’s development as an internationally attractive destination. Our ambitious plans testify to our strong belief in the future. However, they may need adjusting along the way, depending on how the situation develops,” says Roger.

Today, the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre submitted its application to the City of Gothenburg for a development permit to construct an expanded main entrance and a hotel and office complex next to Korsvägen.

 

Gothia Towers huvudentré

Also read:
Policy statement: All-in one concept generates growth (2 December 2015)
Press release: Plans and visions for the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre 2016-2030 (2 December 2015)
Press release: Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre speeds up plans to expand facilities (2 March 2017)

Due to a growing need for capacity and strong international demand, the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre is bringing forward plans to further expand its facilities with new, flexible meeting areas. An additional storey will be built on top of the existing hall area to create an extra 14,000 square metres of space. The new storey will include an auditorium.

“We have enormous need for increased capacity,” says Carin Kindbom, President and CEO, Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre. “Our national exhibition and meeting business is booming, and our international business has also exploded since we upgraded our facilities two years ago, our biggest investment ever.”

As part of this SEK 1.2 billion investment, a third tower was added to the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre’s Gothia Towers hotel, making it one of Europe’s ten largest hotels with a total of 1,200 rooms. This has generated a strong increase in demand, for instance from global companies eager to book meeting facilities, accommodation and restaurants under a single roof.

“We need to expand our flexible exhibition and meeting space to meet the market’s demands and remain internationally competitive,” explains Carin. “With the additional storey, we will be first in Scandinavia to offer an exhibition centre on two levels.

Building the new hall and meeting facilities on a third storey will allow the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre to implement its strategy of moving certain activities upstairs, thus freeing up space at ground level for activities that promote interaction with the surrounding city and its social life.

“For instance, shops and other facilities might be installed on ground level,” says Carin. “Meanwhile, we are working on extending our entrances, partly in preparation for the planned construction work around Korsvägen.”

In December 2015, the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre applied for a development permit to expand the facility over a 15-year period, a project that includes two new towers, a new arcade, larger entrances and an additional storey. The expansion will be implemented earlier than planned and in a different order, to more quickly meet growing demand for flexible meeting and event facilities.

There are also future plans to construct two new towers which, among other things, will contain more hotel rooms. The aim is to increase the hotel capacity to 2,000 rooms to meet rising demand for large international events.

“We aim to continue growing, making Gothenburg more attractive and helping to promote local trade and industry,” says Carin. “Our vision is to become Europe’s most attractive forum by offering the best overall experience, and this requires investment and boldness. We have no other option if we want to compete in the global market.”

The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre is a financially independent foundation with no owners or investors.

“All investments are made on the Foundation’s merits and all surplus is reinvested in the business,” comments Roger Holtback, the Foundation’s Chairman of the Board. “Thanks to our strong financial development in recent years, we have the resources to continue developing and improving the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre’s facilities to accommodate our growing exhibition and meeting business.”

ABOUT THE SWEDISH EXHIBITION & CONGRESS CENTRE

The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre Group, of which Gothia Towers is a part, is owned by the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre Foundation and has the mission of promoting industry. The Foundation is financially independent so has no owners or investors. All investments are made on the Foundation’s merits and all surplus is reinvested in the business. The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre’s vision is to become Europe’s most attractive forum by offering the best overall experience.

Mingling with food in bite-sized form is a delightful way to socialise. Head chef Johan Lilja and sommelier Emma Ziemann have assembled the perfect small-plate menu.

Option 1

Potato pancake with roe
Potato pancake with sourdough, Vendace roe from Lake Vänern, strained sour cream and horseradish. Johan: “A Swedish potato pancake with a new twist. Sourdough and potato are a lovely combination and they also pair together really beautifully with the acidity of the sour cream. The vendace roe is from smallscale vendace fishing in Lake Vänern.”
Recipe below.

Perfect together with

Lager & vodka 
Emma: “Vodka has more flavour nuances than people think; a malt or potato vodka has a more oily mouth feel that will enhance the delicate flavour of the vendace roe without overpowering it. The beer shouldn’t be too bitter to avoid competing with the heat from the horseradish, but should preferably have a fresh acidity that can balance out the sour cream and offer an exciting contrast to the potato pancake.”

Option 2

Squid in cabbage
Swedish squid in cabbage, fried flaxseed, fried lacinato kale and reduced pickle juice. Johan: “Unfortunately, you don’t see Swedish squid at restaurants very often, but it has a delicious flavour and is caught here on the west coast, usually as a by-catch.”

Perfect together with

Light, fresh white wine
Emma: “The dish has a nice balance of sweetness, acidity and umami. Look for a white wine with no oaky character, with a bright fruitiness and acidity that can match the accompaniments without diverting the spotlight from the octopus.”

Option 3

Chicken sandwich
Chicken steak from Mowitz, chicken liver terrine and pickled cucumber on rye bread. Johan: “The chicken sandwich is a classic that has been here on the West Coast from the start. The chicken is from a local producer in Trollhättan.”

Perfect together with

Elegant red wine 
Emma: “A light red wine with a fresh acidity can take on the fat in the dish and balance out the pickles. A light oakiness and mature character can provide both spicy and smoky notes, which will be a delicious complement to the nuttiness of the bread.”

Option 4

Swedish charcuterie
Air-dried topside, air-dried pork loin, ham hock terrine and 24-month-old grevé cheese. Johan: “We only use Swedish charcuterie products, because there’s such incredibly good charcuterie here.”

Perfect together with

Champagne & dry sherry
Emma: “A dry sherry will enhance certain flavours, especially umami-rich foods like charcuterie and aged cheese. Champagne, preferably ripe and with a more full-bodied profile, pairs beautifully with the fat and salt in the cheese, charcuterie and terrine, while the wine, with its brisk acidity, enhances the freshness of these appetizers.”

Johan Lilja Emma Ziemann

Johan Lilja

Age: 35 years old.
Job: Head chef at West Coast at Gothia Towers.
Background: Previously worked at Familjen and Peacock in Gothenburg. Has also worked seasonally in Åre and Storlien.
Favourite finger foods: Cheese, charcuterie and pickled vegetables.
Favourite drink: Beer.

Emma Ziemann

Age: 28 years old.
Job: Sommelier at Upper House Dining.
Background: Several years of experience in the restaurant and service industry. Won the Lily Bollinger Award and thus the title of Sweden’s best female sommelier in 2016.
Favourite finger foods: Gruyère, dill chips, vendace roe, truffle salami and smoked shrimp.
Favourite drink: Depends on my mood, but champagne always hits the spot.

 

Potato pancake with Vendace roe

Potato pancake with sourdough, Vendace roe from Lake Vänern, strained sour cream and horseradish

100 g Vendace roe from Lake Vänern or another high-quality vendace roe
2 dl sourdough starter (buy in stores if you do not have your own)
2 tbsp. flour
2–3 large, firm potatoes
2 dl sour cream
0.5 dl red wine vinegar
1 dl sugar
1 dl water
1 red onion
1 lemon
dill
horseradish
oil for frying
salt

Pour the sour cream into a coffee filter and place in a bowl. Put the bowl in the refrigerator and let drain for about 12 hours, until firm.
Grate the horseradish and mix with the sour cream to suit your taste.
Bring the red wine vinegar, sugar and water to a boil. Peel the onion and cut into rings. Pour the vinegar mixture over the onion and place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.
Grate the potato on a grater. Combine with flour and sourdough, a little at a time, so that the batter does not become too runny.
Heat the oil to about 180 degrees. Carefully drop in small potato batter balls and fry until golden brown. Let the balls drain on paper and season with salt.
Serve with the sour cream, red onion and a dollop of vendace roe. Garnish with a sprig of dill.

 

With eight prestigious titles in one year, Gothia Towers takes the lead in the Swedish restaurant world.
In addition, Upper House has been awarded its first Michelin star.
“It has been a fantastic year, full of activities and competitions,” says Krister Dahl, executive chef at Gothia Towers, who himself received the Special Award of the Year at Sweden’s Restauranggalan event.

In 2015 the Chef of the Year competition was held at Gothia Towers. That was the start of a major focus on competitions among the staff.
“For us it’s about creating commitment and developing an attractive workplace, where the staff are given the opportunity to grow,” says Krister, who is himself one of Sweden’s most successful chefs.

And this focus has borne fruit immediately, with World Championship Gold in the Valrhona Chocolate Chef Competition, Olympic Gold for the junior national team, Silver in the Global Chef Challenge, as well as Female Sommelier of the Year, Organic Chef of the Year, Waiter of the Year and Rising Star of the Year.

Fredrik Borgskog vinner VM-guld i Valrhona Chocolate Chef Competition

“That’s a lot of great awards, but the one that impresses me most is Waiter of the Year for Gustav Cansund. In many culinary competitions you get the ingredients well ahead of the competition and have the help of a whole team. For Waiter of the Year you are on your own, and you have to cope with all the elements yourself, including verbal tests. It’s incredibly difficult,” says Krister.

“Fredrik Andersson’s second place in the Global Chef Challenge in Athens is also impressive. It’s a global competition where the 20 best chefs compete for the title. I also think the junior national team, which included our own Kasper Kleihs, put on a strong performance to retain their Olympic Gold.”

These successes mean so much, not only for the award winner, but also for the entire group.
“Today we are one of the most attractive workplaces in the industry, and we invest so much in the facilities, the staff and the environment.”

Malin Franck, restaurant manager at Gothia Towers & the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, agrees.
“Awards are fantastic, of course, and for us it’s also about creating a culture that encourages staff members to develop. Awards bring us attention, but they also create expectations and we have to deliver when customers come here to dine.”

Next year has already got off to a good start, with Jesper Bogren reaching the final of Chef of the Year 2017 and Fredrik Andersson becoming the new manager of the Swedish Culinary Team.
“It would be great if we could win some kind of award for our elegant cocktail bar at Heaven 23,” says Krister.

Here are all the prizes and awards during 2016:

  • Fredrik Borgskog – winner of the world final of the Valrhona Chocolate Chef Competition
  • Fredrik Andersson – silver in the Global Chef Challenge
  • Emma Ziemann, – Lily Bollinger of the Year, Sweden’s best female sommelier
  • Gustav Cansund – Waiter of the Year
  • Anton Husa – Rising Star of the Year
  • Viktor Arabzadeh – Organic Chef of the Year
  • Kasper Kleihs – Olympic Gold as one of the participants in the Junior Culinary Team
  • Krister Dahl – Special Award of the Year
  • Upper House – first Michelin star

 

No less than four chefs from Gothia Towers will be lining up to compete in the Culinary Olympics in Germany on 2226 October.
“It’s totally unique! The fact is that we have become something of a breeding ground for promising young chefs,” says Krister Dahl, Director of Concept Development for F&B at Gothia Towers, who will be part of the judging panel at the event.

Three of the chefs in the Swedish Olympic team – Fredrik Andersson, Kalle Bengtsson and Eddy Zippert Gilborne – and one member of the junior national team, Kasper Kleihs, actually work at Gothia Towers.
Fredrik will also take over as captain of the Swedish Culinary Team after this event.

Why is it that Gothia Towers is so well represented?
“I suppose it’s partly to do with my background,” says Krister, who headed the hugely successful Swedish Culinary Team for ten years and is the only person in the world to have four golds from the Culinary Olympics.
“We are good at supporting and pushing one another. It’s actually difficult to find good chefs, but we have created a culture that attracts many talented individuals.”

Krister himself will have a rather special role at the Culinary Olympics in Erfurt: he will be on the six-man jury judging “Restaurants of Nations”, one of the two subdivisions at the championships.
“I will be rooting for Sweden, of course, that’s inevitable,” he admits.
“But it’s the same for the other judges, they also have to judge their own countrymen. There’s a professionalism among the jury; marks are reported openly and you have to be able to justify the marks you award.”

Sweden are the reigning Olympic champions – in both the senior and junior category. And naturally ambitions are high. Even judge Dahl, who was Swedish captain at the previous Culinary Olympics four years ago, agrees:
“Yes, obviously I hope that our chefs can defend the title. It’s a strong team with all the qualifications to succeed.”

Gothia Towers will not only be represented at the Culinary Olympics this autumn, but also at several other prestigious food and restaurant competitions:
Fredrik Andersson achieved a well-deserved second place at the Global Chef Challenge in Greece on 27 September.
Anton Husa had a good showing at the world championship for junior chefs in the UK on 30 September.
Gustav Gansund will compete for the title Waiter of the Year and Anton Husa for the title Rising Star of the Year at Restauranggalan at Cirkus in Stockholm on 17 October.
Fredrik Borgskog, Pastry Chef at Upper House, will compete in the international final of Valrhona C3, the ultimate chocolate dessert championship, in New York on 24 October.

Congress sales at the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre are approaching a record year.
The number of agreed congresses so far this year is more than double compared with the same period last year.
“What we are seeing is the result of strategic work and the investment in our three towers,” says Malin Erlandsson, Director of Association Sales.

During the first six months of the year, a total of 15 congress deals were concluded, of which four were major international scientific conferences involving between 2,500 and 4,000 participants.
These deals are agreed several years in advance and relate to events that will take place between 2018 and 2021.
“The pressure is enormous right now,” says Malin Erlandsson, who feels that the positive trend is a result of strategic and goal-oriented work together with Göteborg & Co.

Most of the agreed congresses are within medicine and science.
“Naturally, our close cooperation with Sahlgrenska Academy and industry, including companies such as Astra Zeneca, SCA Hygien and Mölnlycke Healthcare, is also hugely important.

Another, more long-term explanation for this success is the SEK 1.2 billion investment in the conference facility between 2011 and 2014. A third tower was constructed with 450 new rooms, and a new hotel concept was launched along with new restaurants, lounge areas and art.
“The fact that we have been able to increase our capacity, giving us what is now Europe’s largest fully-integrated hotel and conference facility means an awful lot,” says Malin.

“Internationally, we are seeing how interest in organising conferences and events here just keeps growing. Our facility is increasingly included in the final discussions for the really large, prestigious congresses.”

Gothenburg’s Fredrik Andersson – a chef at the city’s Gothia Towers – claimed a highly respectable second place in the final of the Global Chef Challenge on 27 September. The final brought together 20 of the world’s leading chefs for the fifth edition of the competition, which this year was held in the Greek city of Thessaloniki.

“Coming second out of so many skilled chefs from more than 40 countries means a great deal to me, and is a real honour,” says Fredrik, who represented Sweden in the competition. “I put in many hours of training, so it’s gratifying that my efforts paid off.”

The finalists prepared a four-course menu using eight set ingredients: duck liver, halibut, salmon, scallops, fillet of veal, sweetbreads, Valrhona chocolate and tea. Finland’s Eero Vottonen took first place, with Lee Boon Seng from Singapore coming third.

“I wanted to keep my menu fairly Swedish to reflect our culinary heritage,” continues Fredrik. “It was a privilege to show our fantastic west coast ingredients to the world.”

All the finalists had previously progressed through the qualifying rounds and semi-finals held in Prague, Bangkok, Aalborg, Auckland and Abu Dhabi during the year. The final of the Global Chef Challenge took place at the Worldchefs Congress & Expo.

“Fredrik did fantastically well in the face of such tough competition, and we’re extremely proud of him,” says Malin Franck, Restaurant Director at Gothia Towers. “We now look forward to this autumn’s forthcoming competitions and hope he will do just as well – or even better!”

On 22-25 October, Fredrik will be competing with the Swedish Culinary Team in the Culinary Olympics. The eleven-strong team will also include Eddie Zippert and Kalle Bengtsson from Gothia Towers’ Heaven 23 and Imagine restaurants.

Alongside them, Sweden’s Junior Culinary Team will also be taking part in the Culinary Olympics. Kasper Kleihs from Gothia Towers’ Upper House Dining will be one of nine chefs making up the team.
Krister Dahl, Executive Chef at Gothia Towers, is the only chef in the world to have won four gold medals at the Culinary Olympics. He will also be involved in this year’s event, this time as a member of the jury.

Gothia Towers is a place for meetings and experiences, for people from all around the world. We have more than 40,000 square metres of space for conferences, congresses, parties, events and shows. We have 1,200 hotel rooms and suites, ranging from great value comfort to the ultimate in international luxury. Our popular bars and restaurants offer something for every taste and occasion.
Gothia Towers is part of the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre Group.