The Villa Pauli Club, one of the most exclusive member clubs in northern Europe, aspires to be a “home away from home” for the expatriate community in Stockholm and the Nordics.
It began over a hundred years ago when the most sumptuous private residence in northern Europe was completed in 1907. The villa, designed by famous architect Ragnar Östberg, was richly decorated with works by the painter Georg Pauli and sculptor Carl Eldh.
Owner with a passion for networking
The owner Arnfinn Röste, is the kind person that seems to live and breathe international relations. Brief encounters and small talk could lead to fruitful collaborations if they occur in the right context.
- The priority for the Villa Pauli Club, when receiving members and their guests, is to deliver a great and unforgettable experience. I was an expatriate in Asia for 25 years, and from my personal experience, I realised that business deals were made in venues that could offer confidentiality and discretion. I wanted to create an international club, as a home away from home, where international business people could meet in a luxurious but comfortable surrounding.
A hundred years of wealth
The villa was built by Anna Pauli, the daughter of Johan Wilhelm Smitt, the wealthiest man in Sweden in the 19th century. He made a fortune in Latin America in the 1850ies, co-founded the Enskilda Bank and founded Handelsbanken. He then funded Alfred Nobel’s Nitroglycerine Corporation and became its Chairman 1864-1904. Together with his young relative Ragnar Sohlman, he became instrumental in establishing the Nobel Foundation and the Nobel Prize based on Alfred’s testament. He also financed the establishment of the University of Stockholm. Villa Pauli was a private residence until 1968, when it was acquired by the Catholic Church for the purpose of visiting Cardinals and used as a Convent. Pope John Paul has stayed there.
In 1985, the wealthy real estate magnate Birger Gustavsson, at great expense converted the mansion listed as a state monument, into a luxurious and comfortable Club, with all imaginable facilities and amenities. The Villa Pauli Club was inaugurated in September 1986 for corporate members only. Arnfinn Röste bought the Villa Pauli Club in 1998 and upgraded and redecorated everything, including the interior decoration featuring antiques, original art and sculptures. Many companies use the Villa Pauli Club as a forum for an event, fashion show or product launch, and some spend many days in the beautiful villa, working at day, networking at night.
- I had a feeling that Stockholm lacked a venue for international business relations, he says in one of the beautiful meeting rooms, with handpicked antiques and top modern conference technology like HD videoconference equipment battling for attention.
- Such venues are very rare, and I did not want it to be an introverted gentleman’s club. An attractive point for the expatriate community, is that our monthly membership fees are much lower than at most of our international counterparts, and we don’t require any membership deposits, so far.
A broad mixture for dynamic networking
The Villa Pauli Club is well established as a venue for corporations, entrepreneurs and families from the wealthy neighbourhood of Djursholm, as well as expatriate families. Arnfinn Röste is now focusing his attention to attracting a new generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs in their 30’s and 40’s. Diplomats, embassies and international organisations are also a focus of attention and are offered special rates. The mixture of personal experiences and backgrounds creates a unique venue for networking and business, as well as social contacts.
- The Villa Pauli Club is a one-stop-shop, he says. You can have a breakfast seminar, lunch meeting, two-day conference, or wine tasting in one of our chambres separée. Seeing is believing, and you have to see the facilities, as well as the surroundings, for yourself - foreign guests can’t believe that we are only fifteen minutes away from the City of Stockholm.
Arnfinn Röste describes himself in terms of “internationalist”, “pioneer” and “explorer”. He claims to have spent over 20 years of his life in hotel rooms all over the world.
- Business people get tired of seeing the same hotels, restaurants and conference centers every single day. They may have left their families, friends and hobbies back home and need somewhere to meet new people in the same situation. We want the Villa Pauli Club to feel like a home away from home, and we have succeeded according to our members.