The mass mop up following the devastation caused by the Boxing Day floods has reached another major milestone, with Wellington Street’s Crowne Plaza Hotel – one of the worst hit businesses in Leeds – finally reopening its doors.
As well as ploughing a seven-figure sum into the well-established hotel, its owners also had to deal with £1.5m of lost revenue through the cancellation of more than 3,000 bookings.
On December 26 the venue’s basement, which hosted its IT systems, boilers and electrics, and its car park were completely submerged after the deluge turned Kirkstall Road and parts of the city centre into a river.
But after staff and contractors put all hands to the pump over eight weeks, the revamped hotel opened to customers today and was fully booked on its first night.
Marco Frik, general manager, explained that the costly refurbishment had focused on moving much of the hotel’s infrastructure upstairs.
“My first reaction was ‘oh my god, where do we start?’,” he said. “A lot of blood, sweat and tears has gone into this.
“I don’t think anyone will ever be ready for anything like this. It is a lesson learned for everybody.”
Maintenance manager Phil Bowden witnessed the flood waters rising and helped other night staff, who were focused on tending to the hundreds of guests staying over Christmas. The hotel was 70 per cent full when the flooding struck.
“When the power came back on everything just went bang as it was all underwater,” he said. “All my paperwork and plans were just washed away.”
Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, ceremonially reopened the hotel at a reception today.
He said: “If you look at the images of the flooding here it’s just quite remarkable that it’s open for business – and it’s fantastic that it’s full already.”