Ieva Cesnoka, BSc (Hons) International Spa Management, 2015
What are you doing now?
I completed my International Spa Management studies in June 2015, moved to Abu Dhabi and started my internship in July, under the direction of Paris Kounoudis, the spa director at the Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal.
Working here is fantastic; our spa is beautifully designed with influences of local Bedouin culture, and it’s new – just one year old. We work with the ESPA brand, using ESPA products and procedures in our treatments, and we’re also the flagship spa in the Middle East region, which is why Susan Harmsworth (the ESPA founder) is creating signature treatments specifically for our spa.
My daily duties are varied and include assisting the spa director in the planning and supervision of spa operations, whilst ensuring that our brand standards are adhered to during daily operations, which is very important when working in a five star environment.
I also get involved in stock taking, leading daily team briefings, covering reception and promoting the spa to guests. There’s plenty of opportunities for me to develop in my role too; I recently supervised the express treatment lounge, where our therapists performed massages near the outside pool area, and Paris is hoping to involve me in the financial and marketing side of the spa in the near future.
What were the main reasons you took that course?
I decided to start my career in the spa management industry so I was looking for the most appropriate spa management programme. I was really impressed with what the course at Buxton had to offer when I came to an Open Day in 2012, and particularly liked the commercial spa where students can gain real world experience, performing a variety of roles with paying clients.
Why did you choose to study the course at the University of Derby?
I felt the course offered everything I needed in order to prepare me for a career in spa management.
What impact has studying this course at Derby had on your career?
My employer has the opinion that the course at Derby is the best in the world, so I believe the excellent reputation of the course helped me to stand out and get my current role.
How did the lecturers inspire you?
The most inspirational University members of staff for me were academics Tim Heap, Tony Loynes and spa managers Rohit Justa and Sarah Beeston. They inspired me with their passion and honesty; it was a real pleasure to learn from these wonderful people!
How do you feel the University has helped you in your career so far?
I mastered a variety of roles which are essential in the spa industry - including that of a therapist, attendant and retailer - because the course provided these opportunities. I was also able to undertake work placements and build up lots of valuable contacts while attending spa industry conferences, something that would have been difficult if I hadn’t been at university.
What are your future plans?
To manage a five star spa resort, to develop innovative spa treatments using natural elements such as the sun, air, seawater and sand.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to study this course at the University of Derby?
If spa is your passion I would highly recommend this course. It provides you with the best and most up to date industry knowledge, as well as the opportunity to master your practical skills. In addition there are plenty of chances to network and impress employers within the industry during your placements, so if you’re lucky you can secure a job while studying.