Former Tees Valley chef of the year Mark Jones has bought the freehold on the Staincliffe hotel at the seaside resort of Seaton Carew in County Durham for £1.3m.
Jones has been with the three-star hotel near Hartlepool since 2001, when he joined as catering manager, and has leased the property from Academy Hotels since 2003.
The Victorian property, which commands views across the Tees Bay, was built as a home for wealthy Hartlepool merchant Thomas Walker in 1869 and converted into a hotel in the 1920s.
Jones is planning a major investment that will include the refurbishment of the existing 25 en-suite bedrooms (which include the Japanese Silk Bridal Suite and the Gustavian Garden Room) and the addition of 10 more bedrooms in time for the Tall Ships Race in Hartlepool during 2010.
By Angela Frewin