An historic Chipping Norton venue is set to undergo a £40million transformation to become ‘the biggest and best hotel’ operated by a national hospitality group.

Heythrop Park Resort was bought by Bourne Leisure in 2018 and will now become the newest hotel operated by its subsidiary Warner Leisure Hotels, known for its adult-only breaks.

Grade II listed Heythrop Park was built in the 1700s by Charles Talbot and in 1922 was bought by the English Jesuits.

In 1969, they moved their seminary to London (still called Heythrop College) and sold Heythrop Park to NatWest Bank for use as a training college and conference centre.

In 2000, it was bought by Firoz Kassam and family, under the banner of Firoka Ltd – owner of the Kassam Football Stadium in Oxford for £15m.

The site underwent a £50 million rebuilding programme and was developed into a four-star Crowne Plaza hotel, with spa, 18-hole championship golf course and restored landscape gardens.

Guests at the hotel enjoying a stroll in the gardens were often surprised by the sight of camels and dromedaries at pasture.

Amazing Animals, which supplies all manner of creatures to the media and events industries, is based at the resort and supplies a huge range of mammals, reptiles and fish for films, TV programmes and photographs.

They have provided donkeys for one of Sting's children's birthday parties and zebras and giraffes for a Sir Elton John extravaganza.

The transformation, due to be complete by this summer, will see the creation of 337 bedrooms offering opulence mixed with modern amenities, countless chic lounges, vibrant bars and outdoor terraces, plus a ballroom theatre. Three restaurants will offer live music and fine dining.

The hotel’s spa, housing an indoor pool, will have a brand-new thermal and sensory suite and Warner will keep the 18-hole Bainbridge Championship Course.

General manager Dean Saunders joined Warner as a lifeguard at one of its coastal hotels 30 years ago and worked his way up to managing the group’s flagship property, Studley Castle in Warwickshire.

He said: “Heythrop brings together the best of both worlds – inside and out. Guests will have a unique a sense of space here, with the option to explore, relax or be entertained without ever having to leave the stunning surroundings.

“When the opportunity to manage such an amazing place came up, I jumped at it. I can’t wait to greet new guests and begin our exciting journey here in the summer.”

Warner Leisure Hotels managing director Simon Thompson added: “We’re absolutely delighted to have acquired such an impressive property in what is a beautiful part of the UK. It’s our first property in Oxfordshire and is set to be our biggest and best - we look forward to bringing even more tourism to the area.”