Student LifeTwins prepare to take over Sweden’s first floating hotel

Twin sisters Ellen and Wilma Hermansson are following in their parents’ footsteps and have chosen to study at IHTTI to learn how to provide the best service to guests and to challenge the traditional image of running a hotel business.

Salt & Sill – a love story from the start

The story of Salt & Sill starts back in the 1970’s when Patrick Hermansson arrived home after military service. Without another career path in sight, he took the leap and started his first restaurant at 18 years old.

In 1995 Patrick and his future wife Sanna met at the local carnival and the rest is a true love story. Fast forward a few years and the couple is on the hunt for a summer house on the west coast, when Sanna spotted a small tavern next door to the house they were currently being shown.

Together they bought the tavern and transformed it into Salt & Sill and raised twins Ellen and Wilma along the way.

Salt & sill Hermasson Twins International Hospitality & Design Management

You literally grew up in the kitchens of Salt & Sill. What is your strongest childhood memory?

(Ellen & Wilma) - Christmas and the Christmas buffet are such strong memories with all the smells and tastes. We used to put carnations on oranges (a Swedish tradition) and make chocolate balls in these huge bowls we had in the kitchen. It took us forever with our tiny hands for the amount that we needed to bake. But boy, it was fun! And with batter all over the place, haha!

What are you studying at IHTTI and how did you end up here?

(Ellen & Wilma) ¬– We are studying Hotel Management and Design at IHTTI School of Hotel Management in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. We found the school through a friend of the family who had studied here. We both want to do something great in the future and knew the schools here in Switzerland have the best reputation in the business.

The teachers at IHTTI know that we are very ambitious and where we come from, so they are pushing us pretty hard. It means long days and pretty straightforward feedback, but we like and appreciate it a lot.

What is your goal after graduation?

(Ellen & Wilma) - We both want to manage the business that Mom and Dad created, together. But first, we want to see the world and get new ideas about running a creative destination with focus on eco-friendliness. Today its more about selling a lifestyle at Salt & Sill instead of the product itself and we are excited to bring what we have learned about communication, management and design back to the business.

How do you run a business like yours together with the entire family?

(Patrick) - It is amazing to be able to work with your family as close as we do. But you have to be empathetic and not step in to someone else’s responsibilities. The long days can be tough from time to time so you need to try to leave the work at work and letting home be just home.

(Sanna) – You have to see it as a lifestyle for the whole family, even if you work in different parts of the company.

Salt & sill Hermasson Twins International Hospitality & Design Management

(Ellen & Wilma) ¬– Once we got a bit older we gained a much bigger understanding of why our parents were working so much. To see each other every day wasn’t such a big issue, we are pretty tight as a family. The hardest issue for us was being the boss’ daughters when we started working in the company in a more serious capacity.

How have you as parents affected Ellen and Wilma’s choice of careers and what professional advice do you want to share with your daughters?

(Patrick) – I often say to myself that I have been neutral, but of course that is not the case. I think that I have showed them that it is a hard but very rewarding job. Both Sanna and I have always tried to be good role models, both as parents and within the company. They grew up and lived in the middle of it, but I have never told them what to do with their lives, they made their own decisions to keep doing this.

If I would give them one word of advice it would be to be honest with yourselves when working and make sure you have fun doing it.

Salt & sill Hermasson Twins International Hospitality & Design Management

(Sanna) – Of course they have been affected by us a lot considering where and how they grew up. But we have always been very clear with that there is no pressure in taking over the family business. We have tried to build a business that they can feel proud to be a part of.

If I can give them one word of advice it would be to follow and live your own dream, not someone else’s.

What has been the biggest lesson you have taken away from your parents? And what advice would you give to them?

(Ellen) – I have learned that hospitality is so much more than just a hotel and developed a keen interest for what entrepreneurship has to offer. I have always loved design and travel and I think it comes from Mom, as she designed the interior of the restaurant and hotel herself. Her eye for detail has inspired me.

If I could give my dad a piece of wisdom it would be to take your time to pause and feel the moment.

Salt & sill Hermasson Twins International Hospitality & Design Management

(Wilma) – Mom and Dad are so good at handling all kinds of people. I don’t want to work 9 – 5 every day, I want to manage my own time, just as they do, that is what success is for me.

If I could give Mom a word of advice it would be to remember that if everything always goes smoothly, you will end up never appreciating it.


Swiss Higher Diploma in International and Design Management

Wilma Hermansson is a current student studying Bachelor of Arts in International Hospitality & Design Management at IHTTI

Swiss Higher Diploma in International and Design Management

Ellen Hermansson is a current student studying Bachelor of Arts in International Hospitality & Design Management at IHTTI

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