WORKERS and bosses at a blaze-hit hotel are looking forward to a better Christmas – a year after the leisure complex was devastated by a major fire.
About 20 people fled to safety when fire ripped through the Quality Hotel in Witney Way, Boldon Colliery, on November 22 last year.
The blaze – sparked by a guest leaving a towel on a sauna heater – was tackled by 35 firefighters over four hours, with flames shooting high in the air and smoke visible across the area.
No one was seriously hurt in the inferno, and the hotel’s bedroom block has now been restored, with most rooms already booked for the festive period.
But many staff had to be laid off and much of the hotel will not be fully open until next summer.
Managing director Mike Chawla said: “The effects of the fire have been long-term and we are disappointed that we have not been able to take back on all our staff for this Christmas, as we hoped.
“We currently have 14 staff at the Quality Hotel, but we had between 50 and 60 before the fire and that also helped support 150 to 160 jobs indirectly in the local Boldon Colliery area.”
The hotel’s concert room, restaurant and health spa have still to be rebuilt, so weddings and Christmas parties will not be held at the hotel complex over Christmas.
Mr Chawla, whose family also runs the George Washington Hotel in Washington, plus three others outside the region, is “hopeful” the Boldon hotel will be fully rebuilt by next summer.
“For various reasons, this has all taken much longer than we expected, but at least the bedroom block is open for this Christmas and bookings are going well.
“But our main aim is to get the rest of the hotel rebuilt and to take back on many of our former staff by early next summer,” Mr Chawla added.