Stordalen was born in Porsgrunn in Telemark, Norway to grocer Knut Anker Stordalen (1933–94) and Kari Stordalen. At the age of ten he began helping in his father’s grocery store and at the age of twelve he began selling strawberries at the local market. He already then displayed his acumen for Business, being named “Norway’s top strawberry seller” in the local paper, Porsgrunns Dagblad, in 1974, beating out his competition of 50- to 60-year-old market ladies. Following high school he attended Kjøpmannsinstituttet for one year, he then managed his father's store for a short time before going off to the Norwegian School of Marketing.
Petter Anker Stordalen (born 29 November 1962 in Porsgrunn, Norway) is a Norwegian investor, hotel "tycoon", property developer and a self-proclaimed Environmentalist. He has an estimated personal net worth of NOK 7-11 billion (USD 1.2 bn according to Forbes list of billionaires 2012 ) stemming from Investments in hotels, shopping centers and properties. Stordalen is a self-made Business man. Stordalen owns Strawberry, a corporate group consisting of ten companies operating in real estate, Finance, hotels and art. Through Strawberry Hospitality Group, Stordalen owns Nordic Choice Hotels, consisting of 190 hotels and employing 13 000 people. In the later stages of his career, Stordalen has pursued a number of philanthropic endeavors together with his wife, Doctor and Environmentalist Gunhild Anker Stordalen, donating large amounts of money to various charitable organizations within environment/climate change and scientific research programs through The Stordalen Foundation, established in 2011.
After leaving Steen & Strøm Invest, Stordalen struck out on his own teaming up with investor Christen Sveaas. In October 1996 the duo bought 68 percent of the shares in the Scandinavian operations of Choice Hotels for NOK 100 million. At the time the chain consisted of 8 hotels across Scandinavia. Following the acquisition Stordalen started his expansion, following the same model as in Steen & Strøm Invest, buying Swedish hotel chain Home as well as Norwegian hotel company InterNor, and taking Choice Hotels Scandinavia public. During a three-year period Choice Hotels Scandinavia bought, on average, a new hotel every other week and added 50 people to the payroll every 10 days. In December 1997 Sveaas sold his 37 percent share of the now 77 hotels. In 1999 Christian Ringnes and his company Eiendomsspar acquired a 35 percent share in Choice Hotels Scandinavia. After a short power struggle, Ringnes folded and Stordalen cemented his control over the company. The same year Stordalen also saw the acquisition of several Swedish and Danish hotels, including the Danish hotel company Nordisk Hotel Group, Stenungsbaden Yacht Club and Stockholm Globe Hotel. At the turn of the millennium, at age 37, Stordalen became a billionaire(in Norwegian krone). In 2012 Stordalen opened his biggest hotel to date, the 500 room 40 000 square meter Clarion Post Hotel in Gothenburg, Sweden. At the opening 10 000 Gothenburgers were gathered to watch a light and fireworks display that included Stordalen ascending from the top of the hotel playing the drums inside a six by six meter disco ball.
In 2000 Stordalen formed the company Home Invest, consisting of the properties previously owned by Choice Hotels Scandinavia. The company went public, but was delisted in 2001. In 2003 Choice Hotels Scandinavia bought shares in Swedish property owner and developer Capona. In 2004 Stordalen’s Home Invest sold 19 hotel properties to Capona with settlement in shares giving him a majority interest. In 2006 Capona changed name to Home Properties. In 2005 Home Invest bought the remaining shares in Choice Hotels Scandinavia and delisted the company. In 2006 Home Properties spins off Home Capital as an investment company and lists it on the First North Stock Exchange in Stockholm. In 2007 Stordalen’s Home Invest acquires all the shares in Home Capital and delists the company. In 2009 Stordalen does the same with Home Properties. Stordalen now privately controlled all the building blocks needed to complete his current Business structure. (see investments).
Petter A. Stordalen first made his mark as an Environmentalist in Norway supporting Norwegian NGO Bellona in the fight to free their expert Alexander Nikitin, charged with treason through espionage for his contributions to a Bellona report on nuclear safety within the Russian Northern Fleet. He has also participated in personal activism; in 2002 he broke into the UK nuclear treatment plant Sellafield and chained himself to the bridge of the plant for nine hours to protest the discharging of the radioactive element technetium-99 to the sea. In 2007 he was charged with trespassing after entering a restricted area at Malmøyakalven to protest the dumping of toxic mud in the Oslofjord.
Stordalen has also been a public Sports figure and at the age of 24 he completed an Ironman race. Although his days as a competing athlete are over, he still keeps fit, as he displayed in 2007 when he did a backflip on stage at a Prince concert. He has also fielded teams in the company class of the road relay Holmenkollstafetten.
Petter Stordalen is married to Gunhild Anker Stordalen. On New Years Eve 2008 Petter Stordalen proposed on top of Aspen Mountain. The NOK 35 million (approx. USD 5 million) wedding was held in Morocco on 12 June 2010, making it Scandinavia’s most expensive wedding, outspending the Crown Princess of Sweden. The lavish treatment of the guests included chartering an airplane and renting all the rooms of La Mamounia, one of the world’s finest luxury hotels. The ceremony was officiated by Bob Geldof in front of 240 of Norway’s most prominent celebrities, from Finance and the arts. The wedding received press attention normally reserved for royal weddings; Norway’s largest news website, VG Nett, had a protocol for the public to leave their greetings. The couple has since been dubbed the Bill and Melinda Gates of Norway by the Norwegian tabloids for their combination of Business and philanthropy.
Following the Utøya shooting, on 22 July 2011, Stordalen donated NOK 5 million to the Norwegian Workers' Youth League to rebuild the summer camp.
As his fortune grew, Stordalen started investing in art, mostly contemporary. His first buy was a painting by the American Artist Ross Bleckner which still hangs at his private estate. In an interview in September 2012, renown Swedish curator Sune Nordgren stated that Stordalen was the European answer to American hotelier Steve Wynn. This partly due to the fact that Stordalen had "redefined" hotel art by spending in excess of five million dollars in contemporary art on his two latest hotels alone, Clarion Hotel Post in Gothenburg and Clarion Hotel & Congress in Trondheim - and have a private collection which is valued at around 30 million dollars. In January 2013 Stordalen opens a new hotel called The Thief, in the Tjuvholmen neighborhood in Oslo. Every one of the 119 rooms will have unique original art from artists like Sir Peter Blake, Chris Gianakos and Tony Cragg. On the interactive TV's guests will, supposedly as the world´s first, be able to choose between pay-TV-options and contemporary video art. In one of the elevators there will be an animation by Julian Opie, one of Stordalen's favorite artists. In the library bar one will find a suite of pictures made by HM Queen Sonja of Norway. The Thief has signed a sponsorship-deal with the neighboring Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art that gives the hotel access to the museums vast art library. Under the agreement, The Thief can borrow some signal work for strategic locations in the hotel. Stordalen has world leading collections of artists like Jaume Plensa, Alex Katz and Franz West. He also owns some of Andy Warhol's best interpretations of Norwegian Artist Edvard Munch. In the article the value of his total collections (private and Business combined) was said to be more valued to more than 50 million dollars. These are some of his known art possessions: Franz Wests «Lemure», Miwa Yanagis «Elevator Girls», Bård Breiviks «Partitur», Alex Katz’ «Kirsten in a baseball hat», Jaume Plensas «Tattoo», Julian Opies «Suzanne Walking» and Damien Hirsts «Stamp Out Pleasure And Pain».
In 2016, Stordalen launched Strawberry, a corporate group consisting of ten companies operating in real estate, Finance, hotels and art. In 2017, Strawberry consists of Strawberry Group, Strawberry Properties, Strawberry Advisory, Strawberry Capital, Strawberry Equity, Strawberry Fields, Strawberry Forever, Strawberry Brothers, Strawberry Art & Design, Strawberry Future and Strawberry Hospitality Group.
Together with his wife, Gunhild Anker Stordalen he has founded the couple’s philanthropic organization, The Stordalen Foundation. The Stordalen Foundation focuses primarily on climate change: