Landmark hotel is set to re-open

CHRIS BISHOP One of Norfolk's most famous hotels is set to re-open after being bought for an undisclosed sum by a Devon-based holiday company. Torbay-based hotel and coach tour operator WA Shearings last night confirmed it had bought the Golden Lion Hotel, in Hunstanton, the distinctive carrstone landmark on The Green overlooking the seafront, which closed down suddenly last September.

CHRIS BISHOP

One of Norfolk's most famous hotels is set to re-open after being bought for an undisclosed sum by a Devon-based holiday company.

Torbay-based hotel and coach tour operator WA Shearings last night confirmed it had bought the Golden Lion Hotel, in Hunstanton, the distinctive carrstone landmark on The Green overlooking the seafront, which closed down suddenly last September.

Guests were asked to leave and staff laid off when its parent group, Swallow Hotels, called in the receivers.

Last night Vince Flower, managing director of Shearings, said he hoped the hotel would be open again by Easter.

"We're going to carry out a major refurbishment to the hotel, starting almost immediately," he said.

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"We've earmarked £500,000 to spend this year on refurbishing the bedrooms and restoring the exterior.

"It's a fantastic building, I saw it for the first time in the autumn after it had closed and I thought it looked very sad and very tired. We felt it could become a successful business, but we knew we'd have to spend some money on it.

"We're hoping to be able to launch at Easter or just as soon as we can.

"We're refurbishing all 27 bedrooms and the public areas which are very tired and worn.

"We can't really do that without having it closed; the contractors are all geared up to start almost immediately."

Shearings has appointed Louise Matton as manager at the Golden Lion. Mr Flower said she would be pleased to hear from former staff interested in working at the hotel when it re-opened.

Mr Flower said the Golden Lion would be marketed at the increasingly popular short- break holiday market.

Last year Shearings, which owns 45 hotels in other resorts including the Carlton Hotel, on Yarmouth seafront, sold 200,000 short breaks.

The company, which also runs coach tours, believes Hunstanton would be a popular destination among its customers, who are mainly in their 50s.

The Golden Lion has dominated The Green since it was built in 1847. It was the first building to be built in Hunstanton as part of Henry Styleman LeStrange's vision of creating a new seaside resort from scratch.

The remainder of the resort rapidly sprang up around it with the coming of the King's Lynn to Hunstanton railway in 1862 and the booming popularity of sea bathing.