The new owners of the Algonquin Hotel and Resort in St. Andrews have let go a number of employees as the province transfers ownership of the business.

Neither the Algonquin, nor provincial officials could confirm the exact number of job losses.

Jennifer Astle, who was the human resources co-ordinator at the resort, said after months of being kept in the dark, employees didn't see it coming.

"I don't think that any of us anticipated that it would be this dramatic. I wasn't there for a great deal of time — I was there for about three months, and I'll bounce back from this, Astle said.

"But my heart is broken for all of those people who have been there, this is their career. They have been there for, in some cases decades and they were handed their papers yesterday. My heart breaks for them."

The province has offered to extend their contracts until the end of April, she said.

Gerry Chase, president and chief operating officer for New Castle Hotels and Resorts — one of the new owners of the historic hotel — said the company is doing its best to make a smooth transition.

"We are going to make sure this the least painful for everybody we can. Obviously when you have a major change like this there are going to be some major bumps in the road, he said.

"We try to do everything we can to be as conscious for the associates, for the public, for the town and for our guests."

Chase said New Castle has offered jobs to 40 of the employees who were let go.

The New Brunswick government announced March 23 it had sold the historic resort to New Castle Hotels and Resorts and Southwest Properties, which will be under the Marriott banner.

Tourism Minister Trevor Holder announced March 23 the provincial government was selling the resort and was providing a $21-million repayable loan to the companies.

The government will collect 20 per cent of any profits the hotel makes in the next 30 years.

The Tudor-style Algonquin hotel was built in 1889 by the St. Andrews Land Co. The hotel was once owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway Co.

The hotel's website says the guest list has included Sir John A. Macdonald, Theodore Roosevelt and Princess Diana.

The provincial government took over the lease in 1973 and bought it in 1984.

Some renovations will begin Monday, and the company will close the resort in September for the major renovations.