UK spa group to build huge resort in Dubai

UK tourism magnate Steve Purdew is planning to open the world’s largest health club in Dubai, Arabian Business has learned.

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By  Richard Agnew Published  December 18, 2005

UK tourism magnate Steve Purdew is planning to open the world’s largest health club in Dubai, Arabian Business has learned. Talks over the move are expected to be finalised in the next few weeks, which will see Purdew’s luxury health club and spa group Champneys opening its first resort in the emirate. Work on the complex is scheduled to start next year, forming part of an expansion programme which has seen Champneys targeting opportunities in Asia. “Steve has been thinking about this for a while and is really excited about it,” a friend of Purdew said. “He was in Dubai in November finalising details and now is ready to go.” The move represents Champneys’ first venture into the Middle East, and the company aims to use it as a springboard into other international markets. It follows the opening in October of the group’s first spa in India, based in Goa’s Intercontinental Grand Resort. The company aims to team up with hotel groups to support its expansion, but also to develop its own travel and treatment packages for consumers. Guy Wilkinson, director and general manager of regional hotel analysts, PFK The Consulting House, said the move comes at a time when Dubai is becoming a more popular destination for health treatments in their own right, rather than one where hotel guests are offered spa services as part of an overall package. “The [Champneys] name is certainly well known out here already, so if and when it arrives it’s obviously going to boost Dubai’s reputation as somewhere you can get treatments,” he said. “If and when [Champneys] arrive they will be entering a market which is going from looking at spas as an appendage to a hotel service to one where they will be at the centre of holiday packages.” Champneys reported losses of over US$7 million for the 12 months to April this year after the closure of two of its UK resorts, but is believed to have a multi-million warchest available for international expansion and the refurbishment of its existing developments. Managed and owned by Purdew and his mother, Dorothy, the group has built up a string of exclusive spas across the UK. The Hotel de la Paix, a luxury hotel in the traditional Swiss resort of Champéry, was also acquired by the company six years ago, making it the largest destination spa group in the world. Champneys now employs over 2000 people.

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