Newcomer Clayton Hotels has bought a Grade I-listed castle in North Wales for £850,000 which it plans to transform into a five-star country house hotel.
Because Gwrych Castle near Abergele in Conwy has fallen into disrepair over the past 17 years, Clayton expects to have to invest a total £6m into restoring the building to create its first hotel.
When the project is completed over the next two to three years, the property will become the flagship hotel in the group's portfolio and offer more than 90 luxury bedrooms, a world-class health and beauty spa, a fine dining restaurant and banqueting, wedding and conferencing facilities.
Built between 1819 and 1822 for Lloyd Bamford Hesketh, Gwrych Castle is a Georgian castellated mansion in the gothic style with the main house surrounded by some 18 round and square towers, bastions and curtain walls.
It is set in 40 acres of parkland, with another 150 acres of Grade II-registered woodland and adjoins one of Wales's premier golf clubs.
Clayton Hotels is a sister company to Clayton Homes, a property and construction company based in Elland, near Halifax, that specialises in the sympathetic restoration of former mill buildings. Both companies are chaired by Kris Clayton.
By Angela Frewin