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Iconic Banff hotel on schedule for 2018 opening 1 year after devastating fire

Banff hotel on schedule for 2018 opening as businesses mark 1st anniversary of fire
WATCH: One year after the Mount Royal Hotel in Banff was damaged by fire, the restoration is on schedule. Tony Tighe has this progress report.

Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the Mount Royal Hotel in Banff catching fire.

On Thursday, a hotel official told Global News the hotel is six months away from reopening.

Reconstruction of the iconic inn on Banff Avenue is 75 per cent complete, according to Stuart Back, the vice-president of operations for Brewster Travel, the hotel’s owner.

“We’re very excited about getting the property reopened,” Back said. “There’s lots of interest from the public in the property and from the local community. So much so that a couple of months ago, we actually opened the bookings for next summer and we are already seeing some strong interest there.”

READ MORE: Fire extinguished at Banff’s historic Mount Royal Hotel

The $45-million reconstruction includes new interior and exterior designs based on the hotel’s history, something that will be a new attraction for visitors says Nancy Dadalt, who works for Banff Lake Louise Tourism.

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“Bringing out the heritage of the building is going to be fantastic,” Dedalt said. “You can already see some of the lines that they changed in the building, so it looks like it did many years ago when they first built it.”

Watch from Dec. 29, 2016: A quick-thinking Mountie is being credited with saving nearly 300 people from a Banff Hotel. The Mount Royal Hotel went up in flames early Thursday morning. Global’s Tony Tighe reports.

Mountie’s quick thinking helps save Mount Royal Hotel guests from fire
Mountie’s quick thinking helps save Mount Royal Hotel guests from fire

On Dec. 28, 2016, Ward Betke held the grand opening of his business, Banff Dog House, on the ground floor of the hotel.

The next morning, at 5:30 a.m., he was told the hotel was on fire.

“We stood outside for a while and watched the events unfold,” Betke said on Thursday. “I was not too sure what was going to be for the future, so there was definitely a window of, ‘Oh my God, I don’t know if we’ll reopen.’”

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READ MORE: Banff Mount Royal Hotel fire: staff work to return belongings to guests

But Betke said one of the first priorities for Brewster Travel was restoring the ground floor retail spaces and he decided to rebuild, officially reopening Sept. 1.

“We’ve come back strong and it’s a very nice feeling to walk into work here every morning.”

Betke is also looking forward to the new business from hotel guests when it reopens and the extra foot traffic outside his store when construction is complete.

Back said the management team will begin hiring staff for the summer early in the new year.