Bespoke Hotels has finalised a five-year management agreement for 40 ex-Shearings hotels, after the company was put into administration in May.

Almost all of the hotels from the Bay, Coast & Country and Country Living collections have joined the Bespoke Hotels banner effective immediately, including the Windermere hotel, Cumbria; the Caledonian in Fort William; the Ship and Castle in St Mawes; and the newly refurbished St George in Harrogate (pictured). It has not been confirmed who acquired the properties.

Having been closed since March, Bespoke Hotels will gradually start to reopen the properties over the coming months, with the Pitlochry Hydro, the Windermere and the Derwentwater Hotel & Manor Apartments earmarked to reopen first in late August.

Bespoke Hotels regional director, Paul FitzGerald, will be leading the project internally.

Bespoke’s chief executive Thomas Greenall said: “This news is particularly welcome in these trying times for our industry. This new arrangement ensures that we can create jobs at a challenging time for employees in the sector.”

Specialist Leisure Group, parent company of the 117-year-old Shearings coach holiday brand and owner and operator of 44 hotels in the UK, fell into administration after failing to secure a rescue deal. The group was significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic as all tours, trips and events were cancelled and the hotels closed to the public, leading to a significant cash shortfall. The jobs of 2,460 employees were made redundant.

Shearings Holidays was the UK’s largest escorted tour operator and traced its roots to 1903 when Smiths Happiways was established in Wigan. Main stakeholder Lone Star Funds took control of Shearings in 2016, and the company rebranded as Specialist Leisure Group in 2018.