Owner of Champneys defends TV show coverage: ‘Bad PR? More like free advertising, I’d say’

A clip from the Champneys TV programme
A clip from the Champneys TV programme

The owner of Champneys says bookings to stay in the luxury resort have actually increased since it was criticised in an ITV documentary on Thursday last week.

Stephen Purdew said the show was like a ‘free advert’ and although it did mention poor housekeeping, it also highlighted the many benefits of visiting the historic health spa.

He said: “I think it was great PR for us – which has been proved by what has happened since.

“It has been well-received and puts us on the map.

“We have been a very famous resort and significant employer in the area for 90 years and that will continue.

“There were some negatives about the house-keeping at a time when we were doing a major refurbishment.

“But the programme showed people having a great time and the diversity of our customers and that people like Daniel Craig come here.”

Other famous guests to have stayed at the Tring resort include Tony and Cherie Blair, Barbra Streisand and Victoria Beckham.

Mr Purdew said: “There’s not a lot to go to Berkhamsted and Tring for, but they come for the service and the facilities and the heritage we offer.”

The Tring mansion Champneys is based in was built by the Rothschild banking family for just one person: her 54 servants moved in but she never did. It has been a health spar for 90 years.

Thursday’s show was broadcast at 9pm after ITV captured more than 100 hours of footage between October and January.

During the programme, a report from a mystery guest was read out. The visitor complained that overflowing bins and dirty towels were strewn about the place in a room that had not been serviced since the last people left it.

But Mr Purdew said: “We are not staffed by robots – we are staffed by human beings.”

Champneys has since said that staffing changes – including new housekeeping and reception teams – have made the resort a much nicer place to visit.

Mr Purdew said: “Bookings are well up on the week.”

His resort employs 300 people – most of whom live in and around the area. A further 150 are employed at its head office in Tring.

Champneys offers health services ranging from fitness bootcamps to reiki treatments, a freezing kriotherapy chamber, and there is also the chance to just lounge around in a jacuzzi.

Champneys is currently in the middle of a £10million investment programme that will be finished by November next year.