Mr. Urban's Story...
Trainee in Paris
I was always interested in the hotel business and as a young man, after graduating from the Stockholm Hotel and Restaurant School (Sweden), I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship in Paris in a restaurant located on the famous Avenue Des Champs Élysées. My time in Paris remains in my memories and still plays an important part in my heart, not only as a city I love but the place where I first learnt the tricks of the trade and became passionate about the hospitality business; with the dream of one day opening my own hotel.
A Meeting with Dr Albert Sweitzer in Africa
After returning to Sweden to complete my military service I was sent by the United Nations to serve in Gaza for one year and then to Congo, Africa. I spent nearly two years in Congo and travelled to many places in Africa in a time when many parts of Southern Africa were still under British rule. One of my most memorable trips was to Lambarene in Gabon where I stayed with Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Albert Schweitzer. He was an eccentric character and at quarter to six every evening he would play Bach, the only listeners, was me and him. I learnt a lot from Dr. Albert Schweitzer and captured an image of him, which now hangs in the Albert Schweitzer Museum in Kaysersberg, Alsace.
A Grand Hotel in Sweden and a good restaurant at a Copenhagen Corner
After my years spent working for the United Nations I returned to Sweden with my elder brother and together we started a small hotel in the university town of Lund, which is located in the south of Sweden. The hotel was a success and the business grew to two big hotels in the centre of Lund (South Sweden), which I ran with my brother for more than twenty years. Though I enjoyed my work I was bored and wanted to do something new and different. I sold my share of the business to my brother and started travelling.
Exploring Asia and landed in Luang Prabang
In 2004 my travels brought me to Laos where I discovered the enchanting city of Luang Prabang. A Lao Australian architect and hotelier heard about my background and asked if I would help him run his expanding hotel, The Sala Prabang. Whilst working at the hotel I spoke with guests and learnt more about the tourist business in Luang Prabang and the service people desired. After working in Luang Prabang for some months I returned to Sweden but could not get the little pearl of South East Asia out of my mind.
The establishing of Mekong Riverview Hotel
I returned to Luang Prabang in 2006 with a ticket valid for one month and the dream of finding a suitable location to build my own hotel. I rented a small house near the Sala Prabang and began my search. After three weeks I was ready to give up after being shown so many places that were either unsuitable or badly located. One evening after a glass of wine at my favourite restaurant, the Blue Lagoon, I went for a walk along the Mekong River. Some local men who recognized me from The Sala Prabang said hello and we started talking. One of the men then said that his uncle wanted to sell his house and we arranged to meet the next day so I could see the property. When they showed me the land the house was built on I could not believe it, I was so excited it was almost impossible to control my emotions. The location overlooking the Mekong was perfect, a dream come true.
I spent the following months travelling between Sweden and Luang Prabang before moving here permanently in November 2006. It was a year of hard work building the first property but it was well worth the effort and on December 27th 2007 The Mekong Riverview Hotel was officially opened.
Warm welcome to Mekong Riverview Hotel