The firm behind the Galgorm Resort & Spa has bought the Old Inn in Crawfordsburn, one of Northern Ireland’s best known hotels and wedding venues.
The Galgorm Collection said it was investing millions of pounds in the property, including a £1m extension.
It is the latest chapter in a rich history for the venue, which hosted CS Lewis and his wife, Joy, on a belated honeymoon in July 1958. The infamous highwayman Dick Turpin is also believed to have visited while hiding in Ireland.
All staff are to be retained by the new owners, who hope to reopen in mid or late May.
The venue was put on the market a year ago following the retirement of former owner Danny Rice after four decades.
The deal is another major acquisition for the Galgorm Collection, which bought the former Templeton Hotel in Templepatrick two years ago.
Galgorm Collection managing director Colin Johnston said: "The Old Inn is one of the region’s most historic and appealing hotels, located in a unique, charming location which makes it a perfect fit for Galgorm."
The venue dates back to 1614 and was named AA Hotel of the Year in 2017/18. It has 33 bedrooms, two wedding suites and a 78-seat restaurant.
The Galgorm Collection plans to develop the property at the back, Mr Johnston said.
"With an initial strategic investment of £1m, we are planning to build upon the hotel’s award-winning credentials and extend the site to incorporate a boutique spa with infinity pool, hot tub, sauna, steam room, private cabanas and a relaxation space," he added.
"We are confident we will be in a position to reopen the restaurant and bar in mid to late May, based on the easing of Government restrictions.
"Reservations for future stays can be made from April 19. We look forward to safely welcoming guests back to enjoy a fantastic stay."
As well as the Galgorm Resort & Spa, the group owns the Castle Kitchen and Bar at the Galgorm Castle Golf Club in Ballymena. In Belfast, it operates Fratelli’s and Cafe Parisien.
The former Templeton Hotel has been renovated and renamed The Rabbit. It is scheduled to open on June 18.
Belfast Telegraph food critic Joris Minne praised the Old Inn in a review last year.
"It is one of the pillars of the Northern Ireland tourism sector and many will remember it for being one of the few quality accommodation and restaurant providers offering consistently high quality of service long before the region became an internationally recognised tourism destination," he said.