New Brunswick's historic Algonquin Resort may soon carry the Marriott banner if a deal can be finalized, according to Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams.

The provincial government issued a statement on Wednesday indicating that the provincial government has entered final negotiations with a consortium consisting of New Castle Hotels and Resorts, and Southwest Properties to buy the Crown-owned resort or partner with the province.

It would be licensed under the Marriott name but no other details have been released.

"Specific details will be negotiated during this due diligence period with a consortium that knows the resort and hotel business," Williams said in a statement.

"We are entering into serious discussions with a joint-venture between New Castle Hotels & Resorts and Southwest Properties."

Tourism and Parks Minister Trevor Holder said a letter of intent has been signed and all parties now have up to 60 days to conduct their due diligence before any deal is completed.

"Marriott is a huge name. It is a strong brand. People all over the world recognize it," Holder said. "This is an opportunity to market this hotel in a way we have never been able to market it before."

A government statement said details about the hotel's future are expected soon.

David Buffam, the chief executive officer of New Castle, said the consortium was pleased to enter into the talks with the provincial government for the historic hotel.

"We look forward to adding the unique heritage of the Algonquin to the Autograph Collection. The property will then become affiliated with some of the most distinctive hotel and resort destinations around the world," Buffam said in a statement.

Contract expired in 2011

The province launched the search for a new operator last February after Fairmont Raffles Hotels International announced it would not manage the resort when its contract expired at the end of 2011.

The government recently announced that the search had been narrowed to just one group.

"This is a win for the people of New Brunswick, a win for the people of Charlotte County, and certainly a way that we can make sure that the Algonquin Hotel remains the jewel of the Fundy experience from an accommodation standpoint," Holder said.

Last year, Williams said the resort needed between $20 million and $25 million in repairs and upgrades.

The Tudor-style hotel opened in 1889 and the resort also features a golf course.

The Canadian Pacific Railway Co. bought the hotel in 1903 and it was sold to local owners in 1970. The province leased the hotel in 1973 and bought it in 1984.

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

The resort employs 60 people year-round and 250 during the tourism season.

with files from the Canadian Press