Page last updated at 13:54 GMT, Friday, 4 April 2008 14:54 UK

Store chain buys hotel for staff

Part of the Bala Lake Hotel
The Bala Lake Hotel was chosen for its extensive grounds

Store group The John Lewis Partnership, which owns retail chains Waitrose and John Lewis, has bought a lakeside hotel in Bala, Gwynedd, for use by its staff.

The firm says it has invested 3m in buying and refurbishing the 24-room Bala Lake Hotel by Llyn Tegid, which is due to open in December.

It will create 18 permanent jobs on the site and bring more than 5,000 visitors to Bala every year, says the firm.

Visit Wales said the development would bring jobs investment to the area.

The firm owns five UK holiday clubs providing staff with subsidised breaks.

The sale of the hotel, which is in a 200-year-old restored building, was completed on Monday. It is now closed to the public and is being refurbished by John Lewis Partnership.

Bala Lake Hotel is aimed at employees and their families who want a more active break and was chosen for its extensive grounds and woodland area, said the firm.

Further plans for the site include a revamp of the golf course into a five-hole pitch and putt course, the creation of nature trails, and using part of the forest behind the hotel for cyber tag, which is a type of mess-free paintballing game.

There are plans to link up with local businesses that provide leisure services and activities to offer discounted packages for visitors.

Lawrence Chapman of The John Lewis Partnership said: "We're delighted to make this announcement, which will bring new job opportunities and a steady stream of visitors to the area throughout the year.

"Bala is a fantastic location offering both stunning views and a great range of outdoor activities."

Mike Greenow from Visit Wales, the tourism arm of the Welsh Assembly Government, said the move would mean the facilities could be developed to their full potential and used all year round.

"In addition the choice of this hotel and location is a tribute to the beauty of the surroundings and the quality of life offered," he said.

"Every visitor from the John Lewis Partnership is a potential ambassador for the area."

The John Lewis Partnership is owned by and for its 69,000 employees, who are known as partners, and have a say in how the business is run and share in its profits.

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