New era and owners for West Runton Links hotel

An historic hotel in North Norfolk has been saved from the risk of closure after being bought by a couple already running two other popular hotels in the coastal area.

The Links Country Park Hotel at West Runton, which went into administration last September, has been acquired by Mackenzie Hotels, which runs the Sea Marge at Overstrand and Dales at Upper Sheringham.

The turreted Victorian landmark was built at the turn of the last century as a fashionable watering hole alongside a golf course, which once boasted the legendary Gary Player as its director. It also hosted many top rock bands when the village Pavilion was a thriving music venue back in the 1970s.

The 49-bedroomed hotel and conference centre has now been rescued from its more recent troubled times by Marc and Liz Mackenzie, who aim to refurbish the building and add to its leisure facilities.

'The Links is a huge opportunity for us and we are certain it has a very bright future.,' said Mr Mackenzie.

'Our plans are to renovate many of the rooms and to redesign part of the reception and ground floor areas and bars.

'We are thinking about adding a spa, getting a pro in to run the golf course, and the outside of the hotel needs a decorating. We will start a rolling programme soon,' said 48-year-old Mr Mackenzie.

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He was a diver in the offshore industry before he and wife Liz, from Trunch in North Norfolk and with a background in leisure having managed an ice rink and bowling alley at Milton Keynes, took their first steps into the hotel industry with the Sea Marge in 1996 and added the Dales in 2000.

The Links fitted in their suite of hotels because of the facilities it offered - with guests at all the hotels able to enjoy leisure and dining at the sister venues.

Mr Mackenzie said they had shown an interest in the Links last September, but the receivership had delayed negotiations, which were only completed this week.

The agents and receivers told him at the end there were 'only had a couple of hours to finalise the deal before the hotel and golf business were to be closed indefinately and the staff made redundant,' he added.

'Our aim is to make the The Links one the of the prime conference venues in the county.

'To have a hotel with its own golf course is very unusual, and we shall keep it exactly as it is with the same staff,' he said.

With the acquisition of the Links, Mackenzie Hotels now employs 61 full time and 37 part time workers and will have a turnover of more than �3m.