ONE of the Island's most prestigious hotels is set to be taken over on a three-year lease next month.

The deal has yet to be signed, but if it goes ahead, the £4 million George Hotel, Yarmouth, will be taken over by entrepreneur Howard Spooner, a friend of royalty including Prince Harry and Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice.

The 17-bedroom hotel has been owned by Dame Dianne Thompson for nearly five years and she has spent £1.5million transforming the bedrooms, garden and introducing Isla's Restaurant.

Mr Spooner confirmed: "I have signed a binding heads agreement and hope to take over on January 21, if not before, and there is also an option to buy the freehold.

"It's a 'try before you buy' arrangement and Dame Dianne wants to work with me on this. She doesn't want to sell it to someone who sees the hotel as a trophy.

"She has taken the hotel in a fantastic direction and I want to keep pushing it in that direction.

"I don't need to do any building work to it, but I have lots of plans and we will be closed for a short time next month to do some redecorating."

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Mr Spooner was a partner with Guy Pelly, a childhood friend of Princes William and Harry, and had nightclubs in Chelsea, Fulham, Clapham and Hammersmith.

He also had a club in Verbier, a popular ski resort in Switzerland when the royals visited.

He currently owns The Grand, Clapham, which he describes as a 'palace of varieties', offering different forms of entertainment such as themed film screenings; an irreverent take on bingo, world-class comedians, musicians and DJs.

Mr Spooner added: "I first started visiting the Island about ten years ago when I got into sailing and a friend of mine told me to visit Yarmouth. It was there I discovered a gem, The George, and fell in love with it."

The hotel's 31 staff have been notified of the plans.

Dame Dianne said: "Like the watch brand Patek Phillippe says: 'You never own it, you look after it for the next generation'. That is what I have genuinely done and tried to pull her back to her former glory."

Isle of Wight County Press: