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Tue 28 Apr 2009 04:00 AM

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Back to school

Dubai's newest spa school, Academie Esthetique, plans to roll out sites across the UAE. Principal Ruth Koprowski explains how she aims to meet spa industry training demands.

Back to school

Dubai's newest spa school, Academie Esthetique, plans to roll out sites across the UAE. Principal Ruth Koprowski explains how she aims to meet spa industry training demands.During the past 18 months, if not longer, spa managers have bemoaned the lack of training options in the UAE. Apart from the CIBTAC-endorsed Cleopatra's Beauty Institute (CBI) in Wafi, there has been little choice locally.

What do spas do when they have bored receptionists who want to progress and learn beauty therapy? What about the highly-experienced facialist who complains about not receiving commission because she fails to hit her sales targets? And how does the industry encourage more Emirati girls to enter the growing business, when there are limited places for them to qualify?

We also teach people how to sell. We show the students how they should do it — it’s a very interactive course.

Finally, what about the spa manager; where do you get help to develop the business acumen you need to run a profit-generating facility?

It is these sorts of training gaps that former spa operator and trainer Ruth Lisa Koprowski, who learnt the trade in her home country of South Africa, hopes to fill with the launch of Academie Esthetique in Dubai Health Care City (DHCC).

"Some people have in-house training so they're bringing that up to standard, but there are a lot of companies that don't have in-house trainers; that is the market we fit into," says Koprowski. "We can also do custom-made programmes to suit specific needs and can be seen as a finishing school for Emirati girls."

Following a role as a regional trainer based in Saudi Arabia for the spa school's parent company Medica, Koprowski's passion is now her role as principal at Academie Esthetique, which she hopes will reverse what she says has been a trend for a lack of properly-qualified staff in the UAE's spas.

Koprowski says that there is already a demand for courses, plus a waiting list for the Spa Management course that she developed especially for the school.

"Individuals have got in touch along with some hotels that want to promote girls. What we've heard from the managers and the owners is that she doesn't have to have a beauty therapy background to be a spa manager - they don't want hands in, all they want is management, they are starting to looking at differently," she says. "Hotels are even prepared to pay for their girls coming on the course, or pay half of it," says Koprowski.

"That's the biggest demand: make-up, skincare, and the spa management course, and then you've got other therapists that have come from Asia and [their qualifications] need to be lifted . This is where a lot of the spa managers send them to us; like a rough diamond we smooth them off," continues Koprowski.

"We also teach people how to sell, we use the retail programme from Paris; it has role plays and videos and we show the students what's not right and how they should do it - it's a very interactive course," she says.

With Academie Esthetique at DHCC barely off the ground, Koprowski is already working to open a second school to be based at the International Academy for Graduate Studies FZE in Ras Al Khaimah.

She is also looking to expand into Abu Dhabi , following her participation at Beauty Vision in February. And developing a chain of schools isn't her only aim. Koprowski says she has spoken to CBI about developing a body to protect beauty therapists' qualifications.

"In South Africa, if you have a certain qualification, such as CIDESCO, you get a sticker to put on your door so people will automatically know what standard you are. Here, there is nothing like that."

With spa industry trainers starting to talk, and spa owners and managers doing the same, things are really starting to look up for the industry.

About Academie EsthetiqueThe Academie Esthetique is the first international French school to open in the Middle East and Asia, established in Dubai by a partnership between Medica and Ecole Régíne Ferrère-Paris.

Originally based in Garhoud and now with the opening of its own full-service training centre at Dubai Health Care City (DHCC) in March, the school offers a variety of courses, from spa management to one-year diplomas to short vocational programmes. They include:

• One Year International Diploma, covering professional practice, lifestyle, the skin, facial treatments, spa and heat therapies, body treatments, hair removal, hand and foot treatments, cells, tissue and the skin, and business management (AED 25,000 (US $6800))

• Seven-month Spa Management Diploma (AED 10,000 ($2700))

• Six-month Confederation National de L'Esthetique Parfumerie (CNEP) and Competence European de L'Esthetique Parfumerie (CEEP) diplomas (various packages from AED 12,000 to AED 22,000 ($3300 to $6000))

• One-day Microdermabrasion course (AED 600 ($164))

• Four-day Retail Sales Training (price TBA)

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