VIRGIN Australia co-founder and Quamby Estate owner Rob Sherrard looks set to take over the lease at the Entally House historic site.
The government is due to announce the new leaseholder in the coming weeks, but The Examiner understands Mr Sherrard will be named as the successful party.
The heritage-listed site would add to Mr Sherrard's property portfolio in Northern Tasmania, which includes Lake House at Cressy, the Rutherglen Village, which faces the Entally site, and the lease on the Low Head Pilot Station.
Mr Sherrard also owns the Tasmanian Walking Company, which operates tours at Cradle Mountain and the Bay of Fires.
Mr Sherrard's company bought the Rutherglen Village site in September, and plans to rename it Entally Lodge.
Work has already begun at that site, with plans to introduce new dress restrictions for the pub and create a grassed picnic area and playground. As part of Mr Sherrard's portfolio, the Rutherglen accommodation could ideally be used by couples who are getting married at Entally.
Mr Sherrard could not be contacted for comment yesterday.
Heritage Minister Brian Wightman said the second, detailed stage of the Entally expression of interest process was ``being progressed''.
``I look forward to announcing the outcome of the EOI process in the coming weeks,'' Mr Wightman said.
The state government called for expressions of interest in the colonial house, stables, chapel and vineyards in October, after its decision to drop the heritage home from the Parks and Wildlife Service portfolio.
The tender process to find a private operator has attracted criticism from some groups, who believe the property should remain in public hands.
Tourism Northern Tasmania chief executive Chris Griffin said volunteers at Entally provided tourists with a significant historical experience, and he would be watching ``with great interest'' to see what happened under the new lease.
He conceded there was a balancing act involved in the private operation of a public site.