Blaze ends Kandawgyi Palace era

YANGON, 20 October 2017: A fire broke out at Yangon’s iconic Kandawgyi Palace Hotel, 0300 Wednesday, turning the predominantly wooden structure into a smouldering ruin.

One of the first five-star hotels to open in Yangon on the banks of a picturesque lake, the fire gutted the entire hotel by the time it was extinguished at around 0700.

One person died and there were reports of some injuries to staff, fire fighters and guests who were staying at hotel.

Firefighters walk through the burnt-out building following a fire at the Kandawgyi Palace Hotel   (AP Photo/Thein Zaw).

There were reports of explosions as gas tanks in the kitchens exploded.  The blaze consumed the upper wooden floors and seriously damaged the ground floor, mainly a concrete structure.

Asian Trails, which issues bulletins to travel partners, quoted the Myanmar Fire Service Department saying the fire broke out on the fourth floor and spread rapidly through the property.

According to an Asian Trails assessment the damage to this  “legendary property was extensive.

There were no Asian Trails guests staying at the hotel, but the hotel is popular with tour groups and travels firms that are now sourcing alternative accommodation for the coming cool season months. Due to the severity of the damage, the hotel will be closed indefinitely.

A well-known Burmese hotelier Robert Thein Pe, opened the hotel in 1990, commuting between Bangkok and Yangon until his retirement from the hotel industry in 2010.

Built on the banks of Kandawgyi Lake, the hotel incorporated a former rowing club, dating back to 1934,  which was converted into the hotel’s cultural dinner and dance venue.

Thein Pe partnered with Bangkok’s Baiyoke Tower owners in the hotel’s early years. They later sold the property to the U Tay Za’s Htoo Group in 2010 for a reported US$29 million. It has since been refurbished and expanded, and was until now considered one of the city’s top hotels.