ONE of the biggest hotels in the county is under new ownership.

Nico De Freitas has sold Haddington’s Maitlandfield House Hotel to David and Stacey McWatters.

Mr De Freitas, who lives in Musselburgh, has been at the helm of the Maitlandfield, which has more than 20 bedrooms, for 19 years.

He has been heavily involved in a number of groups in the town and East Lothian over the years. Mr De Freitas was a Haddington community councillor for four years from 2007 and is now one of the directors of Haddington Community Development Trust (HCDT).

In addition, he was involved in Haddington Farmers’ Market, was chairman of East Lothian Tourism for 10 years and a member of East Lothian Golf Alliance.

His son Mark De Freitas, head chef at the Maitlandfield, remains with the hotel.

Jan Wilson, chairwoman of Haddington’s community council, wished Mr De Freitas well for the future.

She praised him for transforming the hotel’s fortunes over the years.

The 17th century historic town house on Sidegate has a selection of en-suite bedrooms, a brasserie and bar, as well as conference and meeting rooms.

She added: “It is a shame [that he is leaving]. It is good that it is being kept on and I hope it will be kept in a similar way to what it has been. Nico is a nice bloke.”

Provost John McMillan, Haddington and Lammermuir ward councillor and the local authority’s spokesman for tourism and economic development, added: “I really wish him and Pauline [his wife] the best.

“They have been really thoughtful hosts and I have known them through the Rotary. I really want to say thank you to them.”