IRVINE’S biggest hotel is set to undergo a £2million makeover after being bought over by an Ayrshire businessman.

The Times can exclusively reveal that the Hallmark Hotel has been taken over by Henry Fitzsimmons - the property developer behind the Brisbane House Hotel in Largs.

The hotel will be renamed the Riverside Lodge Hotel, by the end of this month and Henry, who also owns Oscars in Saltcoats, says he has grand plans, including a new restaurant, gym and swimming pool and hopes to turn it in to an entertainment hub and onestop-shop wedding venue.

Henry explained: “It’s going to cost £2million-plus. “We have 128 rooms to refurbish, carpets, curtains, beds, furniture. Everything. It will be a complete overhaul.

“At the moment we have two entrances, the main hotel entrance and the function suite entrance and there is a wall that joins them together - that has vegetation which will all be cut away and replaced with big stainless steel letters saying Riverside Lodge and there will be a water feature in there too. then when you come in to the reception area that will all be upgraded too.

“Right now there’s no windows in the restaurant and it’s a very dark area. it used to look out on to the lagoon but when the Lagoon went, they just put the shutters down.

“So we are going to knock all that out, similar to what we did in Largs where you have a big glass front looking into the gardens.”

Work will be starting on the hotel foyer and bedrooms first, which Henry hopes to be finished in the coming months, followed by the landscaping getting underway in spring and the fitness suite later in the year.

Henry says Riverside Lodge’s goal will be to attract families.

He said: “It will be late this year we will start on the fitness suite and we will be putting a swimming pool back in.

“Families can come, parents can use the gym, kids can use the pool.

“We are going to have a brand new restaurant because at the moment, under Hallmark, the menu has been too corporate and it hasn’t worked, because what works in London doesn’t work in Irvine.

“So what they have been offering has not been to the demographic of where we are, so that is something we want to improve on.

“Up until now everyone has seen the hotel as somewhere you can get married, somewhere you can stay over etc, but we want to turn it in to somewhere you can come and dine, somewhere you can have a good experience with your family.

“The gardens will also be getting landscaped. Obviously this time of year isn’t great but we are planning for the spring to get landscaping and architects involved so we have a nice area for wedding photography.”

Hotel manager Frank Long says weddings will be a huge focus for the hotel - and their unique package will even include a honeymoon.

He said: “Anyone locally who is getting married and who chooses our venue, there is a good chance they will have friends and family abroad who will need somewhere to stay.

“We can do grand weddings and we can do the more intimate weddings, because we have six function suites so that gives us a unique advantage.

“We will also be including a honeymoon to Florida in the package we offer so it really will be a one-stop wedding shop.”

Sales and Weddings manager Will Parrott said staff at the hotel are excited to be part of the changes.

He said: “The new plans have got all the team excited because it will be the exact same team still in place during this transformation and it’s great to see that excitement and it’s being passed on to our guests.

The Riverside Lodge Hotel will be hosting its own Wedding Fayre on March 4, showcasing the new plans and refurbishment details.

The Hotel will also be taking part in the Scottish Wedding Show at the SECC on February 24 and 25.