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A Job in the Sun.

CRAIG GARDNER spent two years in Sweden setting up a prestigious hotel chain. He is used to meeting the rich and famous as boss of Glasgow's three Hilton Hotels - but was bowled over during his stint in Stockholm when he met Abba's Bjorn Ulvaeus.

CRAIG, 37, from Croftamie, near Drymen, Stirlingshire, was staying on the same island near the Swedish city when he bumped into the superstar in the local shop.

Dad of three Craig said: "He was like any other customer and let me jump the queue - because I only had a pint of milk to buy.

"I ended up getting well acquainted with another Abba member, Benny Andersson, because he was opening a hotel and we would go for coffee to discuss his ideas."

Craig joined the Stakis Group in 1986. When the group was taken over in 1998 he was asked to rebrand one of the key hotels in the company's Nordic operation.

He said: "The Swedes were aware of the Hilton name but there was only one hotel in the Nordic region.

"My family and I made the decision to integrate with the Stockholm community - but there was a bit of adjusting to be done.

"For starters it was minus 24 degrees in winter and you couldn't walk 10 metres without your face freezing up.

"However, the summers were good and they have a real cafe society."

The family returned to the UK in the autumn of 2003 and settled in Manchester, where Craig developed two new hotels.

He said: "I would recommend working abroad to anyone. Just because you have kids doesn't mean you can't travel."

'Abba's Bjorn let me jump queue'
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 3, 2006
Words:277
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