Criterion July opening?

DESPITE construction having been at a standstill for several months, the Criterion Hotel in Sale is tipped to open within the next few weeks.

The hotel, which began its transformation nearly two years ago when Minster Constructions bought the property and began renovations, has been dogged by setbacks.

Initially slated for a mid-2011 opening, the venue was no closer to opening in February this year, when the Gippsland Times was told in February by Traralgon-based Minster Constructions, they were aiming for a mid-May opening.

May came and went — with the Criterion seemingly no closer to opening.

Rumours circulated that the heritage-listed facade may have caused bureaucratic hold-ups, but a Heritage Victoria spokesperson said delays were “absolutely not” linked to any Heritage Victoria permits.

“We are delighted with the restoration works carried out to the exterior,” the spokesperson said.

The blame apparently lies with some carpeting, according to Criterion co-owner and Melbourne-based chef, Adrian Richardson.

Mr Richardson, who has made appearances on MasterChef, Ready, Steady, Cook, and has published several cookbooks, said the fit-out of the venue was being held up by waiting for some carpeting to arrive so the flooring could be completed.

“Having the site sitting idle like that is obviously not an ideal situation, as it costs everyone money,” Mr Richardson said.

“But, bear in mind for me, this is a project that began well over five years ago, when I first saw the Criterion.

“It’s going to be a beautiful place when its finished.

“That’s why the progress has been a little slow — we’ve all been wanting to get it just right.

“I’m still really excited for it and I’ve been dying to get it open.”

Mr Richardson said he was aiming for a mid-July opening.