A HOTEL that was ravaged by fire is set to take its first bookings after a £2million rebuild.
The Quality Hotel, in Boldon Colliery, was wrecked by a huge blaze last November, after a guest left a towel on a sauna heater.
Firefighters spent three hours tackling the blaze, which spread through the single-storey health spa, reception and function room, as about 20 guests and staff fled the scene.
Customers’ Christmas parties, weddings and business conference plans were all left in tatters as the building, in Witney Way, was destroyed.
But now bosses are looking forward to welcoming guests back on Tuesday, as the first phase of restoration work is completed.
Mike Chawla, hotel company director, said: “We are all delighted that we are now at the stage where we can invite guests back into our hotel.
“It was never an option for us not to rebuild after the fire – it was something we were always committed to do.”
“The area which we are in is surrounded by business, and it needs a good-quality hotel like the one we provide.
“Our website went live on Wednesday, our bedrooms have all been refurbished and we can offer continental breakfasts.”
Construction workers from the Meldrum company have spent the past six months working on the refurbishment of the hotel’s 82-bedroom accommodation block, and a sitting room area.
However, the 400-seater function room, health club, fitness centre and beauty rooms won’t be completed until March.
Twenty staff, many of whom are former employees, are already back at work, and numbers will rise to 30 in the next few days and to about 55 next spring.
Mr Chawla said: “It has been hard work, and obviously we were all devastated when the fire happened.
“But our main concern was that none of our staff or guests were injured, and thankfully, everyone was OK, so we were very lucky
“And come next March, everything will be back up and running once again.”
A MAJOR investigation was launched into the blaze, which sent plumes of black smoke into the skies.
More than 35 firefighters were scrambled from stations across South Tyneside, Sunderland and Gateshead to help extinguish the flames, which broke out at 11am on November 22.
Four jets and an aerial ladder platform were used to stop the fire from spreading further.
An investigation by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) discovered that the fire had started in the hotel’s sauna.
It is understood a guest had left a towel on one of the solar heaters, which then smouldered and burst into flames.
At the time, group manager for TWFRS, John Allison, who was in charge of the original firefighting operation, said: “I would like to praise our firefighters for their hard work and professionalism in tackling the fire.
“It is due to this that we were able to stop the fire from spreading to the other parts of the hotel, where the sleeping accommodation is.”
Despite the damage which was caused, hotel boss Mike Chawla says he has no hard feeling towards the guest who was responsible.
He added: “It’s just one of those things isn’t it? Nobody meant to start the fire – it just happened. We don’t hold any hard feelings – the main thing was that everyone was OK.”