A FIVE-STAR golf resort near St Andrews has been bought by an American property fund for £32.4m.
Fairmont St Andrews will become part of Kennedy Wilson's European property portfolio, making it the latest Scottish golf course to be snapped up by a buyer based in the United States.
The coastal resort has two 18-hole courses including the Torrance, which last weekend played host to the Scottish Senior Open.
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It also has 209 rooms - meaning Kennedy Wilson is paying about £155,000 per key - as well as a fitness centre, a spa, and planning permission for 71 additional holiday homes and eight manor homes.
The 520-acre site, formerly known as St Andrews Bay, was built in 2001 by Don Panoz. The American-born tycoon made his fortune at Elan, the pharmaceutical firm best known for the nicotine patch, before turning his hand to hotel ownership and entering cars in the Le Mans endurance race.
Fairmont St Andrews is currently owned by several funds overseen by Ares, a Los Angeles-based asset management firm, and is run by Canadian hotel operator Fairmont as part of a contract that runs until 2031.
CBRE, the property agent that handled the sale, said there had been interest in buying the resort from around the world.
"The bidders were truly international, from China, the Middle East, the Far East and the US," said Paul Collins, head of UK brokerage for CBRE Hotels.
"With resorts across Europe there's an increasing level of interest."
The deal comes at a particularly busy time for Scottish golf. The Ryder Cup comes to Gleneagles next month, and the Old Course at St Andrews is due to host the Open for the 29th time next year.
The sale has also been announced three months after Donald Trump sealed a deal to buy the Turnberry golf resort in Ayrshire and rename it Trump Turnberry.
Earlier in the year, the American businessman withdrew plans to build a second golf course at the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire in a row over a nearby wind farm.
Kennedy Wilson, a property giant based in Beverly Hills, listed its European fund on the London stock market in February.
The fund has already made several major purchases in Scotland including the Exchange Tower and Argyle House, both in Edinburgh, and Seafield House in Aberdeen.
The firm recently took over the Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links near Dublin for £24.2m.
"This is an excellent addition to our portfolio - a high quality and well-managed hotel which represents our second hotel transaction within two months," said Mary Ricks, president and chief executive of Kennedy Wilson Europe.
The company said it had identified several options for improving the hotel including a possible upgrade to the club house.
Fairmont St Andrews was valued at £32.7m by CBRE at the end of 2013, meaning Kennedy Wilson has acquired the site at a slight discount.
A brochure for prospective buyers had invited bids at around £37m.
Increasing numbers of resorts are coming to market in Europe as consumer confidence improves and businesses spend more on conferences hosted at hotels.
Property services group Jones Lang LaSalle said in June that investors had warmed to hotel deals since the start of the year and noted strong demand for business and leisure travel in Edinburgh.