BOURNEMOUTH’S most famous hotel faces an uncertain future after it was put up for sale.

De Vere Hotels has confirmed it has put the four-star Royal Bath on the market along with two other major venues.

The company has said the sales will help fund the development of three new De Vere Village Hotels, which cost around £19million each and bring higher returns.

Andrew Woodland, chairman of Bournemouth Hotel and Restaurant Association, said he hoped a new owner would invest in the resort.

“Our feeling is that anything that will come into improve the bed stock in Bournemouth will always be welcome,” he said.

“I know that the age of the building means that it is in need of some refurbishment and if De Vere aren’t going to put that money into the hotel, then anybody coming in will have to invest in the property, which would be good for Bournemouth.” De Vere, which owns a Village hotel near Royal Bournemouth Hospital, once owned the Norfolk Royale and the Branksome Park hotel at Canford Cliffs.

The other De Vere branded hotels on the market are Southampton’s Grand Harbour and the University Arms in Cambridge.

Mr Woodland said: “As a group they have moved their emphasis across to the Village brand.

“Things do shift and maybe they’ve moved away from the traditional seaside hotel to a more corporate and family market which the Royal Bath isn’t suited to.”

Ron Hands, 79, who was doorman at the Royal Bath for 10 years, said: “I worked there during the heyday in the 1980s and 90s and I hope that a hotel with the history that the Royal Bath has got doesn’t disappear off the face of Bournemouth.

“The Royal Bath, to me, is Bournemouth.”

He hoped that under a new owner, the hotel could even regain the fifth star it lost some years ago.

An icon in Bournemouth

THE Bath Hotel was built in 1838 and was later bought by Sir Merton Russell-Cotes and his wife Annie.

They added the “Royal” because the Prince of Wales had stayed there in 1856.

For many years, it was the hotel of choice for VIPs.

Former doorman Ron Hands remembered how jeans were forbidden in the restaurant – even for pop stars.

He said: “I turned Sting away when he came in with his wife. I said ‘You can try but they don’t let you in there’.

“He came back and said ‘You were right, Ron. We’re going down the pier for a burger’.”