FIFTY jobs have been saved and more have been created following the acquisition of two prominent hotels on Bournemouth’s East Cliff in a deal exceeding £3 million.

Leisure property fund Real Estate Leisure Capital Ltd (Rel) has purchased the historic 40-bedroom Woodcroft Hotel and the 34-bedroom Orchid Hotel, which stand opposite each other in Gervis Road.

The Woodcroft Hotel specialises in group bookings and coach parties and is undergoing a £200,000 refurbishment.

Next year it will also have a 10-room extension built, enabling it to take two coachloads of visitors, giving it a total of 52 rooms and three function rooms.

The Orchid, which is a boutique hotel, focuses on weddings and fell into administration last December after the collapse of its owner Kingsbourne Estates Ltd.

Administrators PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP ran it as a going concern until a buyer was found, with no redundancies being made.

Rel Capital operations manager Michelle Gray explained that all staff will keep their jobs as part of the deal.

“We are not planning to cut current staff numbers and are actively recruiting new duty managers, receptionists, apprentices and night porters,” she said.

The acquisitions have been made at a time when it is anticipated that cash-strapped holidaymakers will flock to the sunny south coast rather than abroad.

Rel Capital, which has recently sold the Gresham Court Hotel in Grove Road and the Palm Court Hotel in Christchurch Road, Bournemouth, was founded last year as a joint venture fund.

It is run by property professionals and is backed by high net worth individuals and UK banks with the aim of purchasing distressed and turnaround leisure property opportunities.

The fund, which has already been involved with building mixed-use schemes in Essex and Kent with Travelodge hotels, has also launched Rel Hotels Ltd and Rel Pub Co Ltd. Throughout the next 18 months it aims to open 10 bars in freehold and leasehold sites.

Chief executive Andy Scott has four further acquisitions planned this year with two in Dorset.

“Normal deal making has gone out of the window, and now is definitely the time to think outside the box to get deals done,” said Mr Scott, who is also a director of national leisure operator Glendola Leisure, which employs 500 staff nationwide and runs desVin’s Café & Wine Bar in the restored St Pancras Station building in London.