By Bill Heaney
Almost four years after the deaths of two young men in a huge fire, Cameron House Hotel on Loch Lomondside has re-opened for business.
The luxury hotel has undergone a multi-million pound renovation and refurbishment after a fire exploded through its rooms and corridors in December 2017, taking the lives of guests Simon Midgley and Richard Dyson.Cameron House was fined £500,000 after pleading guilty at Dumbarton Sheriff Court to fire safety failures.
And a night porter, Christopher O’Malley, who admitted starting the fire after placing a plastic bag full of ash inside a cupboard, was sentenced to 300 hours unpaid work.
Almost four years on, the resort has reopened to the public, offering 140 guest bedrooms, including 24 luxury suites, with opening day rates starting at around £500 a night.
A £17.5m extension, which includes a new ballroom and 68 bedrooms, is also currently being built and is set to open early next year.
In June, the Crown Office revealed that a Fatal Accident Inquiry would be held into the deaths of Mr Midgley, 32, and Mr Dyson, 38, who had been unable to escape from the burning hotel.
A total of 214 guests – including 25 children – fled the building on the morning of December 18, 2017.
The court heard the resort had been given two warnings by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the latest being just one month before the blaze, over the storing of flammable materials in the concierge cupboard near a source of ignition.
Prosecutors said the general manager raised the matter with a head concierge and resort manager but the practice remained unchanged, with jackets, leaflets, kindling and newspapers all being stored there.
Despite being told to by experts, the company also failed to put procedures in place for removing and disposing of ash from open fires as well as the maintenance of ash storage bins and their emptying.
Like most local hospitality businesses during the Covid pandemic, Cameron House Hotel is recruiting staff at present.
The extension now being built following the fatal fire at Cameron House, Loch Lomond.