Haigh Hall, a historic country house near Wigan is to undergo a £6m transformation to become a 30-bedroom boutique hotel.
Contessa Hotels will undertake the development of the Grade II-listed property, which was built between 1827 and 1840 by James Lindsay, the 7th Earl of Balcarres.
Haigh Hall remained under the ownership of the Lindsay family until it was sold in 1947 to the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan. In recent years it has been used as a conference centre and wedding venue.
The new hotel, which will continue to be owned by Wigan Council, will incorporate a spa and fitness centre and is expected to open in time for Christmas 2015.
Contessa Hotels, which operates two hotels in Merseyside: the five-AA-star, 18-bedroom Hillbark, Frankby, and the four-AA-star, 19-bedroom Leverhulme, Port Sunlight, is undertaking the development costs of the hotel as the leaseholder of the property.
The development of Haigh Hall into a hotel is part of a wider £12m plan to transform the surrounding 250-acre estate into Haigh Woodland Park, which will boost the local economy by £30m and increase visitor numbers to 500,000 per year. It will include a kitchen courtyard within the existing stable block, which will provide a base for some of the region's best artisan food and drink producers; a family adventure zone; and improved heritage trails and cycle routes.
Craig Baker, director of Contessa Hotels, said the company was delighted to be involved in such a unique project as Haigh Woodland Park. "The building is steeped in history and we are excited about restoring Haigh Hall and transforming it back to its very finest. Haigh Hall is such an iconic structure in the region and we look forward to introducing the hall to our Contessa portfolio," he said.
Weddings will continue to take place at Haigh Hall during the restoration programme.