RICC repairs and improves after the fire

RICC repairs and improves after the fire

Published - 1st Dec

Torquay's Riviera International Centre is looking better than ever, as repairs and improvements following a major fire this summer reach completion.

A small kitchen fire caused substantial damage at the centre in Torquay in June, as well as flooding caused in parts of the building by the centre’s sprinkler system.

The newly launched Aqua Lounge café, which replaced the Bay Brasserie in February this year, and the Forum & Rosetor conference rooms were flooded by water from the sprinklers following the blaze which caused some £650,000 damage and was tackled by crews from nine fire engines.

The centre actually re-opened within 24 hours, but the work has been continuing since to carry out repairs, redecoration and refurbishment.

Grace MacDowall, RICC Finance Director, said: “The period following the fire was understandably a stressful time, however there has at least been a level of satisfaction in seeing the reinstatement project unfold.

“The fire itself was pretty small, it was the water from the sprinklers that caused the majority of the damage.  The water flowed down the stairs like a river damaging the Aqua Lounge and its kitchen, as well as flowing out into the Forum & Rosetor conference rooms.

“Following the fire we now have a fire suppression system built into the extraction canopy, which would tackle a small kitchen fire before the sprinklers went into action, preventing water damage on the scale of the recent incident.”

The downstairs corridor was also damaged, as were the ladies pool changing rooms, and the male and female Aqua Lounge toilets. The main conference auditorium and Rosetor Room carpets had to be replaced due to the water damage, the Rosetor has also needed complete redecoration as the décor had been damaged by smoke.  The sunbed suite on the lower level was also significantly damaged by water and is being refitted.

Grace said: “We have also been able to carry out some additional modest improvements including the carpet in the conference delegate’s reception area and stairwell, and also have been able to create a new children’s party room from the shell of the old Neptune’s Galley.

Grace praised the staff who worked tirelessly under difficult conditions throughout the recovery, adding that the centre was able to host a large conference only two days after the fire.  “Contractors used dehumidifiers and deodorisers to dry out the carpet in the Forum, and surrounding areas and the event was able to proceed as planned.”

Grace said: “The chefs have been amazing throughout, using a small portable kitchen unit situated outside they have still managed to cater for every client, meaning we have not had to cancel one event. The main kitchen was handed back in early November with the only outstanding item being the new air handling unit, however we are thrilled to be back up and running.”

Referring to the previous café refurbishment Grace said the Aqua Lounge has been a great success, with figures 31 per cent up on forecast, and having seen the success of the modernisation we are keen to continue the theme in other areas of the Centre.

“We have also witnessed the positive effect of upgrading the majority of the cardio equipment in the gym, alongside a restructure of the membership packages, and member numbers are at an all-time high. Due to this success we are seeking financial support to enable us to expand the Health Club.”

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