Champneys Mottram Hall: Jewel in the crown

By Sarah Camilleri


By Sarah Camilleri

23 November 2020

In an exclusive interview, Champneys’ owner Stephen Purdew discusses the recent refurbishment of Mottram Hall in Cheshire and the much anticipated launch of its £12 million new spa

Loved by footballers, celebrities and golfers among others in the north-west of England, Cheshire’s Mottram Hall celebrated its reopening in September following an extensive £14 million [e15.5 million]refurbishment programme, £12 million of which was dedicated to redeveloping and launching its opulent 3,000sqm spa.

The transformation of the 300-year-old property has been a passion project for Champneys’ founder Dorothy Purdew, OBE, and her son, Stephen, along with CEO Alan Whiteley who heads up the company’s 2,000-strong team.

Having identified that Mottram Hall required significant investment, particularly to meet the demand for its spa, £12 million was set aside for a new facility with a further £2 million for refurbishments to bring the hotel a new luxury level.

Despite the unforeseen challenges of 2020, the Champneys team remained steadfast in their mission to complete the work. “When Covid-19 hit we continued with investment and our extensive development programme right through lockdown – even though we didn’t know when it would all end and when we could reopen,” explains Stephen. “It was brave, but we decided we had to just get on with it.”

“For every business it is now a real team effort – everyone’s contribution is important for success; from our managers to our therapists. Everyone on my team has been incredible. They’re so passionate about their work.”

Stephen Purdew

Co-owner, Champneys

Tailored wellness

Run by resort general manager Deirdre Billing, Mottram Hall’s audience is sure to appreciate Champneys’ bold investment in its spa facilities.

“Mottram Hall really is a wonderful destination. We attract a lot of business leaders and celebrities who live in this dynamic and affluent area,” states Alan Whiteley. “Our golf course and spa membership are very popular, especially with footballers, actors and the local business community. They appreciate this level of luxury hospitality and wellness expertise on their doorstep.”

International wellness design company Sparcstudio was selected to develop Mottram Hall as part of a highly collaborative project. “We worked closely with Sparcstudio along with our in-house property director Chris Maryon and architects Darling Associates,” explains Purdew. “It was a real journey together.

woman wearing glamorous outfit and pearls

“I am delighted that despite the difficulties of 2020 we have been able to deliver a beautiful spa worthy of the Champneys name. Relaxation at a health spa has never been more important.”

Dorothy Purdew, OBE

Co-owner, Champneys

“We wanted to make Mottram Hall the ‘Gleneagles of the north-west’. There’s not much competition locally, a few nice properties of note, but since reopening we are confident that we have the best hotel in the region.”

Based in London, Sparcstudio has recently delivered some of the most memorable spa and leisure projects in the UK, including: South Lodge in Sussex, Cotton Mill Spa at Sopwell House in Hertfordshire; Third Space, London; and Aqua Sana at Center Parcs Longford in Ireland, which successfully launched in summer 2019.

“Our brief was to create a new mix of elements that you would expect from Champneys, while respecting the country house setting and the 300-year history of Mottram Hall,” explains the company’s co-founder Beverley Bayes, who led the project. “Integral to this is the unique combination of wellness, beauty and fitness offerings that Champneys is renowned for – a 360-degree approach to wellbeing that aims to be ahead of the curve. From this brief we developed a ‘barefoot luxury’ concept with a palette that reflects ‘refined nature’, which is cosy, contemporary and effortlessly glamorous.”

"We developed a ‘barefoot luxury’ concept with a palette that reflects ‘refined nature’, which is cosy, contemporary and effortlessly glamorous.”

Beverley Bayes

Director, Sparcstudio

Fit for purpose

Set over two floors, the 3,000sqm spa provides 15 treatment rooms as well as a dedicated beauty lounge for manicures, pedicures and makeup, and Champneys’ first barbershop. Guests can enjoy healthy snacks in the Spa Café as well as nutritious dining in the 60-seat Raffaella’s spa restaurant, named after Stephen’s daughter, which offers views over the grounds.

“We paid particular attention to the design of the extensive fitness areas, which include a beautiful timber-lined gym with full-height glazing overlooking a terrace; a reflective pool; a spin studio; and the first-floor Panoramic studio,” explains Bayes.

As at all Champneys spas, the healing benefits of water are at the heart of Mottram Hall’s wellness offer. “We are especially proud of the thermal suite in the pool area,” says Bayes. “This has been created with lots of glass and interesting lighting. The thermal suite, supplied by Dalesauna, places a deliberate focus on bringing the outside in with slot windows looking to the gardens and onto the pool, creating a unique sense of space.”

“Sparcstudio has delivered such a great design here,” praises Purdew. “Their attention to detail is exceptional. It was a real challenge, not only rebuilding spaces but also refurbishing them, which is sometimes much more challenging than starting from scratch. “It’s just incredible what we have achieved with the space. My favourite area is our new Technogym equipped gym. It’s such a beautiful space, lined with trees and very different from most gyms.”

On the menu

Having successfully launched the spa at Carden Park, Cheshire in 2019, Steve Ewing rejoined the Champneys’ team as spa director to open Mottram Hall. and he believes the property provides a much needed boost to the UK scene.

“This new spa offers something very special to everyone who visits,” he states. “I believe the ‘health spa’ concept has been a bit lost here in the UK for the past few years, yet in these times when everyone is more conscious of health and wellbeing it’s so important that we can offer a spa of this calibre.”

The spa offers Champneys’ own range of treatments, together with face and body experiences from long-term product partners, Elemis and Clarins. “We also offer manicure and pedicure services by Jessica, as well as Lava Shells treatments as part of day and residential packages,” adds Ewing.
A new range of fitness and wellbeing breaks is also being planned to help guests escape and recharge. “Opening a spa during a pandemic is certainly a challenge but we have seen huge interest in bookings, as well as solid membership growth – in fact, the launch has far exceeded our expectations,” Ewing reveals.

Overcoming adversity

Continuing to expand the business despite recent global events, Purdew is candid about the difficulties of his own lockdown experience and the challenges
that are currently being faced by everyone in the hospitality industry.

“I found lockdown very hard. We didn’t know what was going to happen and I don’t believe there’s been enough strategy deployed by the UK Government to help our sector. We were grateful for the furlough support, but like other people, everything I have ever worked for was in danger of being destroyed,” he says. “I also suffered from Covid-19 myself, feeling lousy for six weeks without realising what was happening. Luckily, I’m indestructible!,” he jokes.

On the business side, Purdew emphasises the need for hospitality leaders to be flexible and determined. “For every business it is now a real team effort – everyone’s contribution is important for success; from our managers to our therapists,” he states. “Everyone on my team has been incredible. They’re so passionate about their work – not only keeping Champneys going but doing their bit to make it better and better.

Silver linings

Despite the possibility of clouds on the horizon, Purdew believes spas will benefit as people seek out ways to improve their wellbeing. “Holidays abroad are difficult to commit to at the moment, so people are looking for ‘staycation’ options and are staying longer. We are seeing bookings for four and five nights increasing as well as demand for spa breaks,” he says. “It’s also clear that we must help tackle obesity, and inactivity. This is such an important focus for us.”

With this in mind, Champneys has more plans for investment over the next 12 months. “We’ve put a lot of effort into the re-launch of Mottram Hall as well as redeveloping our resorts, Champneys Tring and Champneys Forest Mere,” says Purdew. “In 2021 we will continue to innovate with further investment at our Champneys Springs resort, to revitalise our spa offering with a fitness-focused concept.”

Spa statistics

Mottram Hall
+44 (0) 1625 828135 |

Owners: Dorothy Purdew, OBE and Stephen Purdew
CEO: Alan Whitley
Resort general manager: Deirdre Billing
Spa director: Steve Ewing
Property director: Chris Maryon
Architect: Darling Associates
Design and interiors: Sparcstudio
Investment: £12 million
Spa size: 3,000sqm plus a 250sqm outdoor terrace to be added before the spring
Treatment rooms: 15
Spa team: 25
Suppliers: Dalesauna, Cheshire Wellness, RHA furniture, Ellisons, BC Softwear, Tom Dixon, Alexander Rose, Technogym
Additional facilities: Panoramic Studio, Cycle Studio with MyRide virtual programmes, Gym, Café Bar, Our Spa and Raffaella’s Restaurants
Product houses: Champneys, Elemis, Clarins, Jessica, Made for Life Organics, St Tropez and Lava Shells

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