TAVISTOCK Leisure has announced multi-million pound plans which will see its hotel portfolio in north east England double in size this year.
As well as opening three new hotels, Tavistock also plans to expand its restaurant business.
The South Tyneside-based company, which runs the Tavistock Italia restaurant chain, currently owns three hotels in Sunderland, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough.
The company has now said it is close to revealing a £1m hotel project in Whitley Bay, and is seeking two more sites during 2008.
The company is aiming to operate a total of 10 hotels in the long term.
Tavistock - part of entrepreneur Russell Foster’s Durham Estates business - is refurbishing the former Dougies Tavern at Blackett Street in Hebburn - which has been empty for five years - into another Tavistock Italia restaurant and bar, at a cost of £1m.
Tavistock already owns the Best Western Roker Hotel in Sunderland, The Tavistock Grand Hotel at Hartlepool and the Best Western Highfield Hotel in Middlesbrough which the company says are all proving successful investments.
Managing director Mark Hird said: “Last year we purchased the Grand in Hartlepool and The Highfield in Middlesbrough, both of which have proven to be excellent choices for us and which are rewarding our investment in them.
“We are always looking out for new sites and are currently looking at a number across the region, including developing our brand into North Tyneside initially.
"We would certainly hope to have six hotels in the North-East by the end of 2008.
He added: “Tavistock Leisure had a fantastic year last year and we can see no reason that this won’t continue into 2008.”
Last year the company opened a Tavistock Italia branch in South Shields, and also runs Tavistock Italia and Pearl Bar on Newcastle Quayside.
Mr Hird said the refurbishment of the Hebburn site would add to the company’s appeal, and would work along similar lines to the business’s South Shields outlet.
He said: “The idea is to make it very much along the lines of our highly successful Tavistock bar and restaurant at South Shields, with a 120-cover restaurant and a family-orientated bar and terrace.”
As well as its smaller Tavistock branded hotels and restaurants, the company has also put forward high-profile plans to open a £15m purpose-built hotel and conference centre on the site of the Gypsies Green Stadium in South Shields., which will be its most ambitious project to date.