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Spa industry booming despite recession



DESPITE the recession, the spa and wellness sector is experiencing a period of unprecedented growth.

A boom in the development of hotel and inner city spas and salons across major cities, from Dubai to New York and London, has brought with it a renewed demand for skilled spa professionals, from therapists and beauticians up to spa managers, operators and developers.

With this demand for skills, comes great opportunities for those looking for a challenging new career.

Brian Hunter is one of the leading lights in the industry in Scotland.

After 30 years managing and developing spas across the world, in 2009 Brian became the owner and principal of Scotland’s oldest and most prestigious spa training school, the Mary Reid International Spa Academy in Edinburgh.

In August this year, Mary Reid relaunched under a new name and new premises, and is now one of the UK’s principal suppliers to the spa industry.

Brian said: "For students who have recently left university or school, or those looking for a challenging new career in the spa industry, now is the time to act.

"Spa owners and managers are on the lookout for expertly trained spa professionals to fill an increasing number of vacancies. There are excellent opportunities ahead, with potential earnings of up to £100,000 annually and the chance to work at top destinations across the world."

There are two major career paths within the spa sector: Spa managers and directors, who deal with the management and operation of spas and spa therapists, who provide the one on one treatments for clients.

Although it is possible to work your way up from therapy to spa management, they are specialist roles that often take separate career paths and require different skill sets and qualifications.

On the management side, many professionals enter the spa industry from the hotel sector.

Currently Derby University is the only higher education establishment that runs a full-time spa management degree which includes a six-month placement. However a degree is not essential.

Experience within the hotel management sector is useful and provides the necessary skills in business acumen, people management, as well as an understanding of sales and marketing.

To become a spa therapist, more defined qualifications are required.

There are a number of spa and beauty schools that offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses in spa therapy as well as shorter day courses to top up skills and knowledge.

For example The Mary Reid International Spa Academy in Edinburgh offers a one-year full-time course, or two-year part-time gold diploma which will soon be providing comprehensive training in all aspects of beauty therapy and body therapy.

The gold diploma can lead to both Itec and Cidesco qualifications, two of the principle industry standards.

Unlike other colleges in the UK, the gold diploma also provides additional modules in spa management, giving students the necessary qualifications to work in all areas of the spa sector, from therapy to operations.

Holly Foubister, 18, from Ellon, choose to study at the Mary Reid International Spa Academy after completing her highers, and has just completed a six-month body therapy course which qualifies her in aromatherapy massage, Swedish massage, Indian head massage and toning treatments to name just a few.

The spa industry attracted Holly as she was looking for a job that offered practical and hands on work, where she could work face to face with people.

"I did a great deal of research and it soon became clear that the Mary Reid name was well known for quality and professionalism. I was also attracted by the fact I could be fully trained in just a year.

"The college provides a gold diploma condensed into an intensive one-year syllabus, enabling me to get to work quickly and start earning."

Holly is about to start a beauty therapy course where she will specialise in facials, pedicures, tinting, bleaching and many other techniques.

"I am going to work on Steiner cruise liners for at least three years before going to join the Fairmont Spa in Monte Carlo. Eventually I’d like to get up to the level of spa manager and maybe one day start my own business. Just now it’s all about getting experience under my belt," she said.

Source: http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk

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