FORMER fishermen’s cottages are being transformed into a luxury seafront hotel in a £450,000 revamp.

The three terraced houses in Hartington Road, Southend, known as Marine Villas, will reopen as a four or five-star hotel called the Beach Retreat at the end of November, builders have said.

Workmen have started stripping out the buildings – previously run as guest houses until the death of their former owner.

Each room will feature highquality tiling and woodwork, keycard locks, automatic lighting and a different photograph of the Thames Estuary by Leigh photographer Simon Fowler.

Builder Sorrel Construction is carrying out the work on behalf of the owners, who also own the Hope Hotel, around the corner in Marine Parade.

Project director Adam English said the building firm had asked South Essex College to help it find tradesmen to do the work, which began on July 21.

Jamie Halls, 19, from Leigh, has been signed up as an apprentice on the project.

Mr English said: “The aim is to highlight the importance of using locally-sourced trade professionals and local suppliers to help further support county commerce and inject further business into Southend and Essex as a whole.

“Sorrel believes it is its responsibility to invest in the future by supporting young professionals.

“It has partnered with South Essex College and Essex schools to introduce local talent to the industry through invaluable work experience placements and training in the project.”

The Beach Retreat will have 21 bedrooms, helping to add to the number of hotel rooms available in the borough, where there is said to be a shortage.

As well as the Beach Retreat, a new Premier Inn is due to open in Eastern Esplanade this winter.

Four years ago, the Park Inn Palace Hotel opened in the former seafront landmark Palace Hotel building, offering 137 bedrooms and 16 luxury flats, after a £25million revamp.