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Sun 15 Nov 2009 04:00 AM

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Doha spa industry sets standards

It's easy to believe that the Middle East's spa industry revolves around Dubai given the vast number of day spas and hotel spas operating in the emirate.

It's easy to believe that the Middle East's spa industry revolves around Dubai given the vast number of day spas and hotel spas operating in the emirate.

However, quantity does not always mean quality and having tried my fair share of spas in the city, I can safely say that the quality of the treatments and the professionalism and knowledge of the staff administering them varies greatly.

All too often a spa with a ‘good reputation' or one associated with a world-renowned chain or brand is not up to scratch.

I was therefore heartened when last month I visited Doha and met with a number of spa industry professionals who are raising the bar in terms of spa standards.

Firstly, the Qatar Foundation's not-for-profit Social Development Centre (SDC) has teamed up with renowned UK beauty training centre, the Yorkshire College of Beauty (YCOB) to establish the Qatar International Beauty Academy that will provide training for both current and potential spa and beauty professionals to international standards.

The facility's general manager, Jo Cusworth, who is the assistant principal at YCOB, says the idea is to eventually get CIDESCO (Comité Interantional Desthétique et de Cosmetologie) accreditation.

The efforts of Cusworth and the Qatar International Beauty Academy are being firmly supported by Doha's spa community and particularly by Liliana Matic Moore, the general manager at Bliss spa at W Doha who herself is making great efforts to raise the profile of spa in the Qatari capital.

Not only has she become involved in community and charity projects, but she has staged meetings for her fellow spa managers in Doha so that key industry issues can be debated. Moore is hoping that in conjunction with the new beauty academy, a spa association can be established in Qatar.

Academies and associations aside, the academy's Cusworth says the general standards at most spas in Qatar she has visited are good and from my personal experience, I must concur.

The staff at Bliss and at the Six Senses spa at Al Sharq Village & Spa (a Ritz-Carlton property), were of a very high standard as you would expect from such renowned brands.

Spas at Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton, Doha, are also highly respected, as well as independent day spas in the mid-market category such as the Al Mashata Beauty Centre.

The task in hand, which is in line with the QTEA's ambition to put the nation on the map as a top spa destination, is to ensure all therapists in the state are qualified.

With spa professionals such as Cusworth on board, it looks like this objective will be achieved in time. Keep up the good work Qatar!

Gemma Greenwood is the senior group editor of ITP Business' travel & hospitality tiles.

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