STAFF at Dunkeld’s famous Royal Mail Hotel were yesterday frantically reorganising functions after fire tore through its conference centre.
Hamilton criminal investigation unit detectives remained at the scene until late yesterday and last night were yet to determine the fire’s cause.
The freestanding function building, valued up to $1.5 million, was engulfed in flames about 2am yesterday.
The hotel complex and restaurant were not damaged by fire and hotel general manager Scott Horn thanked police and CFA volunteers for responding quickly.
Mr Horn was the first to discover the fire and said at no time was there any threat to the hotel’s guests, accommodation or dining facilities. No guests were evacuated from the hotel.
Mr Horn said an event for 120 people scheduled today would go ahead in the facility’s restaurant and bistro dining rooms.
He said people who had booked events in the conference centre were contacted yesterday.
“We owe thanks to our local police and fire brigades who were all on the scene very quickly,” he said.
Sergeant David Walkley, from Hamilton police, told The Standard CFA units responded from surrounding areas, including Glenthompson, Hamilton and Dunkeld.
“The building was totally destroyed and a crime scene was established awaiting further investigations,” he said.
“There’s no way to tell at this point what started the fire as it was fully engulfed in flames when discovered.”
He said the building was a recent addition to the hotel, constructed in the past 10 or 15 years.
In 2012 and 2013 the hotel and restaurant was awarded three chef’s hats in The Age Good Food Guide.
CFA operations officer Bruce Farquharson estimated the damage bill at between $1 million and $1.5 million.
“The hotel, the restaurant, the motel, the apartments are all unaffected,” he told Fairfax radio.
“The remainder of the complex is still functional; in fact, the guests didn’t even wake.”