Decision on whether to rebuild resort and convention centre likely weeks away
STANHOPE, P.E.I. - The Stanhope Beach Resort and Conference Centre may one day rise from the ashes.
© The Guardian photo
However, giving serious consideration to the potential future of the popular, historic tourism resort that was razed in a major blaze Tuesday is for another day, says Paul Murphy, vice-president of finance with DP Murphy Inc.
Murphy told The Guardian Wednesday that making decisions on the "rebuild question'' will be done in the months ahead.
The focus right now and in the weeks ahead is aimed firmly on staff that had started trickling back to work at the scenic resort property that underwent extensive restoration and renovations in 2010 as well as working on alternate arrangements for the many guests already booked for a stay this year.
Murphy says DP Murphy Inc., which reopened the facility in the summer of 2010, will be doing their best to help staff, who number upwards of 100 at peak season, to fill positions with the company's other properties.
Some staff was also expected to find work with other competing tourism operators. However, Murphy was quick to praise others in the accommodation business for extending a genuine offer of support. The industry pulls together in such times of difficulty.
"We have been overwhelmed with the great response with the neighbouring resorts that have offered to assist us,'' he said.
A lot of resources, he adds, are being put towards expediting the process of arranging alternate accommodations for weddings, conferences and group businesses booked at the resort this year.
Murphy says optimism was running high that the upcoming season was going to be strong at the Stanhope Beach Resort and Conference Centre.
The resort appeared to be moving past a nasty blemish last year that saw more than 230 guests become ill from a norovirus, resulting in the launch of a $5 million class action lawsuit.
"We had a rough stretch last fall with the experience with the norovirus,'' he said.
"We thought we were turning the page and starting fresh.''
More than 30 weddings had already been booked for this year. Conference bookings looked promising as well.
There was a staff of between six and eight people working at the resort Tuesday, back and forth between the Stanhope property and Dalvay by the Sea some six kilometres away.
The small group of employees were left staring in disbelief as flames quickly spread through the resort that first housed guests in 1855.
"It's a sombre mood for sure,'' said Murphy.
"The staff was very excited about the start of the season. It's always a very exciting time.''
Jim Day - The Guardian