Historic Hotel Des Bain reopens in Venice


ROME -- The Venice Lido's historic Grand Hotel Des Bains has reopened for business, less than seven weeks after a blaze ripped through part of the structure and cast doubt on whether or not the august building would be operational for the the summer's Venice Film Festival.

The hotel said Tuesday that it is operating at about one-third capacity, though all 190 rooms are rarely used this early in the season. But a hotel official said that there was "no doubt" that the Des Bains will be fully operational by the time the Venice festival opens its doors Aug. 27.

The February fire was thought to be caused by an electrical fault and raged for nearly five hours before it was put out. It damaged parts of the second, third and fourth floors of the building, which is where Luciano Visconti's classic film "Death in Venice" was screened, and which has been has been an icon on the Venice Lido for more than a century.

Even though the Des Bains will be restored to its former glory by festival time, the Lido will still see plenty of construction work. This will be the first festival to work around construction of the new $100 million Palazzo del Cinema, which will be the centerpiece of the festival after it is completed in 2010 or 2011.

The 65th edition of the Venice event will conclude Sept. 6.