Plans to turn the three-AA-star, 120-bedroom Royal Clifton hotel in Southport into the "best seaside hotel resort in the country" have been revealed following its acquisition by D'Urberville Hotels.
Owned and operated since 1983 by Tim Timmerman, the hotel - currently a member of the Best Western consortium - has been bought by D'Urberville Hotels for an undisclosed sum off a guide price of £4m. Timmerman, a former baker from Holland, is chairman of Mellors Catering, a contract catering business with 160 sites in the north of England and North Wales.
Nearly £2m is to be spent over the next two years on upgrading the somewhat faded hotel into a four-AA-star property, creating the second Beefy's steakhouse restaurant in conjunction with former cricketer Sir Ian Botham and launching a Champagne, gin and oyster bar. Eight new bedrooms will be added to the property, alongside the refurbishment of the existing bedrooms and spa.
In its glory days, the hotels welcomed the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Bing Crosby, Dame Shirley Bassey and Marlene Dietrich as guests.
Funding for the venture has been provided by Coutts Bank and a consortium of investors, including David Murray, retired deputy managing director of Anglo Irish Bank's UK division, and premier league footballer Ryan Taylor of Newcastle United, whose family come from the Southport area.
Clark, former chief executive of De Vere Hotels and head of Richard Branson's Virgin Hotels, said the acquisition of the Royal Clifton was a "once in a generation opportunity" to create an iconic seaside hotel.
"We are passionate about restoring this characterful building back to its original Victorian splendour. It has pride of place on Southport's promenade, in a town which we believe is one of the hidden gems of Victorian seaside resorts."
Clark, who is on the board of Luxury Family Hotels as well as being involved in Palladian Hotels and Resorts, which owns Sheen Falls Lodge in County Kerry, Ireland, created the concept of Beefy's in conjunction with Sir Ian Botham. The first Beefy's has just launched at the new 171-bedroom Hilton at the Ageas Bowl Southampton and further sites have been earmarked for Abu Dhabi and Melbourne.
Steve Grant added: "Our plan is to turn this venue into one of the leading hotels in the north west and the best seaside hotel resort in the country."
The sale of the hotel was handled by Christie + Co.