A leisure and travel company has been named as the new operator of a major UK snowsports centre.

Natural Retreats will take on a 25-year lease to run Cairngorm Mountain from June this year.

The appointment was announced by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

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HIE said the firm has a £6.2 million five-year investment plan, which, it is claimed, will secure the future of the resort for the next quarter of a century. The enterprise body is supporting the investment with a £4 million loan to develop a new lodge.

Alex Paterson, chief executive of HIE, said: "Natural Retreats has the vision, ambition and experience to enable the resort to fulfil its potential as a world-class visitor destination.

"Their plans include the further development of snowsports and diversification of the business into a high quality, year-round attraction.

"Natural Retreats' ambition to attract new visitors to Cairngorm will produce spin-off opportunities for other local businesses in the tourism sector, especially in Strathspey."

HIE said it will continue to own Cairngorm Estate, including the funicular and infrastructure on the mountain.

The new arrangement will see the ownership of current operator Cairngorm Mountain Ltd transfer from HIE to Natural Retreats.

Matt Spence, founder and CEO of the firm, said: "We truly believe Natural Retreats will elevate Cairngorm Mountain as one of the leading leisure and adventure resorts in Europe."