Champneys pays tribute after owner Dorothy Purdew dies aged 91

06 September 2023 by
Champneys pays tribute after owner Dorothy Purdew dies aged 91

Dorothy Purdew, the co-owner of the Champneys spa and hotel business, has died at the age of 91.

Born to a working-class family in London's Clapham in 1932, she built Champneys into one of the most successful and recognisable spa brands in the world.

Now valued at over £300m, the business became a favourite of the rich and famous and has welcomed guests including Naomi Campbell, Brad Pitt, and Diana, Princess of Wales.

A driven entrepreneur, Purdew continued to check guest feedback every morning even into her nineties, the company said.

Purdew started her first business, weight loss firm WeightGuard, in 1970 with just £60. The slimming club expanded across the south-east of England before opening its first health farm, Frimleys, in 1978.

Alongside her late husband Bob and son Stephen, Purdew purchased Henlow Grange in Bedfordshire in 1981, followed by Springs Hydro in Leicestershire in 1990 and Forest Mere in Hampshire in 1995.

The Purdew family acquired Champneys Tring - dubbed Britain's original health spa - in 2002 and rebranded its four other resorts under the Champneys banner.

The businesses remained successful and later bought two spa hotels, Eastwell Manor in Kent, and Mottram Hall in Cheshire.

A spokesperson for Champneys said: "Dorothy could never believe a girl from a working-class background could become one of the world's most influential spa operators.

"Champneys became her life. Even into her nineties, she would read the guest feedback every morning, eager to learn of how the business could improve."

In 2008, Purdew was awarded an OBE for services to the health spa industry and to charity.

Purdew is survived by her sons Stephen and Simon, her grandchildren; James, Daisy, Robert, Raffaella, Barnaby and her great grandchildren; Charlie, Olivia, and Henry.

The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking