SPEND £5.5 million on revamp plans for an hotel, and the results are bound to make their mark not only on the venture but the whole area.

That is just what happened at the luxury Aldwark Manor Hotel, near Alne, once Newcastle businessman Brad Holbrook bought up the illustrious 19th century building four years ago.

Now the hotel is aspiring to win the Small Business of the Year and Growth Business of the Year categories as well as the overall title of Evening Press Business of the Year 2001.

Preparations are being made next month for the biggest phase of that investment - a £3.1 million project to extend the hotel from 28 bedrooms to 60, as well as building a 100-seat brasserie overlooking its own 18-hole golf course, plus a 180-seat function suite which can be used for conferences.

Among the new bedrooms will be ten suites and a penthouse with views of the River Ure and the white horse at Sutton Bank. All should be completed in May next year.

But first things came first, with keen golfer Mr Holbrook investing in that golf course to make it a tricky challenge being accepted by an increasing number of golfers for miles around.

Following the recruitment of John Milburn as general manager in May, 1999, Mr Holbrook invested £2.4 million in a health spa with modern health and beauty facilities.

The spa, launched in March, includes an indoor pool, sauna and steamroom., including fun, snail-shaped showers, spa tub, fitness centre and conservatory lounge overlooking parkland.

Included in the spa are four health and beauty treatment rooms, a relaxation room, a sunbed and highly trained beauty therapists on standby.

Big efforts in the restaurant are continuing to be rewarded. Having recently gained two AA rosettes for food and service, head chef Andrew Burton is creating what he hopes will be further award-winning menus for the new brasserie as well as a banquet menus for the function rooms.

But after May? Well, the investment continues.

There will be a further upgrade of the original Aldwark Manor which was commissioned in 1865 by Lord Walsingham as a wedding present for his daughter.

"We start that work in January 2003," says Mr Milburn.

"And it will enable Aldwark Manor to become a year-round business appealing to all market segments."