EXCLUSIVE: UK spa industry reacts to latest lockdown extension

Champneys' Dorothy Purdew, OBE, Lucknam Park's Harry Murray, MBE, Mosaic Spa & Health Clubs' Dave Courteen, Yvonne Ebdon of the UK Spa Association, Danny Pecorelli of Exclusive Hotels and our editor, Sarah Camilleri, all give their opinion on the latest setback to spa business


By Sarah Todd

18 June 2021

The recent decision by the UK government to delay final lockdown easing in England for at least another four weeks has largely been met with dismay across the spa and hospitality industries.

As cases of the Delta variant, which was first identified in India, continue to rise, Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated on June 14 that most coronavirus rules will remain in place until at least July 19, meaning hospitality venues will have to continue to operate with restricted numbers with an estimated cost of up to £3bn for hospitality businesses, according to UKHospitality.

With spa, leisure and hospitality leaders all urgently calling on the government for more comprehensive support after months of closure, European Spa asked a selection of industry leaders for their response.

'Another devastating blow'

“The announcement of the delay was another devastating blow for the hospitality industry,” said Harry Murray, MBE, chairman of Lucknam Park.


“Hospitality is the UK’s third largest employer but around 25% of hospitality businesses have still not reopened and many that are open cannot break even with social distancing – in particular spas, where there’s intimate guest contact and the highest Covid hygiene and safety practices are absolutely essential.



“Enough is enough. Far too many hospitality businesses have been driven to the edge of ruin and many people are suffering from physical and mental health problems that far outweigh the small percentage suffering from Covid.


“It is now imperative that the Chancellor provides added support to avoid more businesses going into receivership.”

‘Keep calm and carry on…’

“We are very fortunate that we have seen huge demand and record numbers of guests returning to our spas since our reopening,” said Dorothy Purdew, OBE, owner of Champneys Resorts and Spas.

“Whilst we’re looking forward to the further easing of lockdown measures, the warm weather has seen our guests organically want to spend time outside; exploring our grounds and outdoor spa facilities.

"Much like the rest of the country, we look forward to seeing the remaining measures relaxed..."

Dorothy Purdew

Owner, Champneys Resorts and Spas

“It has also enabled us to increase exercise class numbers by simply taking them outside, and has allowed us to add new ones to the schedule, such as garden yoga and barefoot nature walks. This year, we have also introduced our first ever luxury glamping sites, which have been a hugely popular.

Champneys' guests are gravitating towards outdoor spa experiences

“Of course, much like the rest of the country, we look forward to seeing the remaining measures relaxed, such as the wearing of masks, but for now we are very much keeping calm and carrying on in true Champneys style.”

'Continued reduction in capacity threatens viability'

“Whilst the latest decision is not a welcome one, we fully understand the reasoning behind the latest announcement,” said Danny Pecorelli, managing director of the Exclusive Collection.



“However, continued reduction in capacity due to social distancing will, without extra support, threaten the viability of many.


“The continued use of face masks and PPE is also impacting significantly on staff welfare and starting to take its toll.”

‘Spa and wellness services are part of the solution’

European Spa’s founding editor, Sarah Camilleri, said: “We all understand the importance of supporting our vaccine programme roll-out in the UK, however, to be told again at the 11th hour that Stage 4 is to be withdrawn for a further four weeks is a direct blow to hospitality and tourism, which includes the majority of the spa workforce that serve the best hotels and wellness destinations.

"The delay in easing restrictions is Another setback for spa and wellness hospitality, which includes the majority of the spa workforce..."

Sarah Camilleri

Founding editor, European Spa

“Spa businesses have already met the challenges of providing much needed wellbeing services with many new protocols and operational issues.

“The industry is fully committed to finding ways to work safely with the virus and deliver much needed wellness services to help people to reset and recover, all of which, ultimately, supports our health service and society at large.”

'Consumer confidence is critical'

“We operate and manage 12 spas in hotels and three of our own standalone day spas, and we have been hugely encouraged by the volume of business and level of enquiries since we were able to offer spa days with F&B with the step-three easing on May 17,” said Dave Courteen, managing director of Mosaic Spa & Health Clubs.


“However, consumer confidence in these challenging times is critical and so a delay in the unlocking of the roadmap cause us some real concerns, and we do know that there are many of our spa guests who are waiting for the final unlocking process to be put in place before booking.



“We also recognise how much pressure and challenging working conditions the current situation puts on our hard-working spa teams, so we really are desperately looking forward to the day when the final stage of unlocking happens.


“Our team is 500-strong, and they have all found this last 18 months challenging but have worked incredibly hard to make our guests and members feel safe.

‘A temporary setback’

“While this may seem disappointing in terms of the capacity able to mix indoors and at larger events, we must remember that this allows our industry to continue to operate within the parameters set,” said Yvonne Ebdon, general manager of the UK Spa Association.

“This is something we have previously fought so hard for, and could assist in preventing yet another lockdown, which would be detrimental to so many businesses.

"The tapering of support measures such as furlough contributions and business rate re-introductions are, of course, an immediate concern..."

Yvonne Ebdon

General manager, UK Spa Association

“We therefore see this as a temporary setback. The tapering of support measures such as furlough contributions and business rate re-introductions are, of course, an immediate concern and the UK Spa Association are engaged with BEIS and the Treasury on this.”

Government guidance...

Click below to read government guidance on the continuing restrictions

Business support...

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