International Spa Management at University of Derby – Interview with Stephanie Duchak, a great success story

Andrew PBeauty, Blog, De-stress, Health, Spa & Lifestyle, Work & Lifestyle

International Spa Management

One of the first people in the world to graduate in International Spa Management returned to Buxton to meet the students who followed in her footsteps at the University of Derby – and head-hunt a few at the same time.


Stephanie Duchak, who was in the first cohort to graduate in 2005 from the University’s pioneering Spa course, came back for the Industry Networking Day to pick out the stars of the future as employees at the Manchester Bali Health Lounge which she manages.

Her degree took her straight into a managerial role in a spa in Malta because her boss recognised its potential even though he’d never heard of one before!

“When I started we had about five books in the library and we’d fight over them. We had a room where all the beds were separated by was shower curtains. Now they just have the most amazing facilities.”Steph talking about the early days of the International Spa Management Course

“I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for,” said Stephanie about her decision to join the course, then at the University’s Harpur Hill site, after completing a Leisure and Tourism GNVQ in her native Greater Manchester.

“This just jumped out at me as it sounded really interesting. I didn’t come with a beauty background so everything was new to me then.”

The Buxton Campus now has the award-wining commercial Devonshire Spa where undergraduates train, but Harpur Hill was not quite so luxurious:

“When I started we had about five books in the library and we’d fight over them. We had a room where all the beds were separated by was shower curtains. Now they just have the most amazing facilities.”

But it was the quality of teaching in the International Spa Management course and the fact that it included a year’s placement abroad which mattered.

“I thought: This is definitely me – this is my calling and life. I did my year’s placement in Malta and when I graduated it was hard to find somewhere in England because no-one then recognised the degree.

“I knew I wanted to do management, so I applied again in Malta and got offered an assistant manager’s role straight away. Two years later I was promoted to manager, and I stayed there for six years.

Derby’s Spa degrees are now the gold standard, something Stephanie’s boss in Malta recognised straight away:

“He’d never heard of it, but thought it was the best way getting into the industry. You could be an amazing therapist but this course gives you the opportunity to learn the management side and that’s why he offered managerial position straight away.”

“That’s the way the industry is going,” she said. “From working abroad and working in England, that’s the massive difference. Abroad, we were much more holistic, concentrating on the clients and their wellbeing rather than just pamper sessions.”Steph explains whats happening in the industry

Stephanie came home, to manage spa in hotels in Manchester, including The Lowry, and now manages the Bali Health Lounge in the city. There Stephanie is once again ahead of the UK industry thanks to the University’s emphasis on wellness – which looks at the client as a whole person, not just someone who wants a relaxing treat.

“That’s the way the industry is going,” she said. “From working abroad and working in England, that’s the massive difference. Abroad, we were much more holistic, concentrating on the clients and their wellbeing rather than just pamper sessions.”

Now she is looking for the Stephanie Duchak of the future as the Bali Health Lounge business plans major expansion – and her old University is the place to go. It all started with the International Spa Management course!

“It just goes to show how good the course is that it can go from 15 of us in Harpur Hill to this amazing site,” she said. “We’ve even recruited recent graduates from the course at Bali Health Lounge who have gone onto senior managerial positions at spas across the UK”

Game of Thrones at Bali Health Lounge

Read why Game of Thrones actress Indira Varma became a member at Bali Health Lounge and her response as we try to ask her about the new series!

About Bali Health Lounge

Our philosophy is to help all people lead a healthier lifestyle with less stress, more relaxation and lasting wellness. We do this my providing professional massage and facial therapy. We pride ourselves on the quality of our treatments achieved through ongoing in-house training to develop advanced massage skills amongst our dedicated team of therapists.

Operating a unique membership scheme which offers affordability, quality and convenience, over 500+ people have signed up for monthly massages and truly felt a difference to their lives.

For more information please visit www.balihealthlounge.com or www.balihealthlounge.com/membership

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