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Sophie’s Spa Placement

“When I first started working at the hydro we didn’t have any student placements, I quickly developed links to a private college, Mary Reid in Edinburgh, and the rest is history! This is the third time that we have done this and we put a lot of effort in to the week to make sure that it is varied and gives the students not only the chance to work professionally one on one with “guests” but also to experience all that the hotel has to offer.” – Fiona, Spa Manager.

We’ve heard from one of recent student placements, Sophie…

My name is Sophie and I am a 17-year-old student at the Mary Reid Spa Academy in Edinburgh, studying a one year intensive course in Beauty and Spa Therapy. I live in Edinburgh and have done my whole life, hobbies include attending the gym as I like to keep fit and healthy. I am going on my first girls’ holiday this year, 4 days after I finish the academy as a celebration! I started studying at Mary Reid because I absolutely adore the spa environment and everything that’s involved. I like interacting with clients and helping benefit them on a personal level, it has been my passion for years.

I travelled from Edinburgh to my placement at Crieff Hydro on Monday and stayed in the hotel until the Friday. I was very nervous about travelling in case I got lost, but also trying to act professionally at all times, even outside of working hours as I was staying in the hotel. When I got here I was welcomed with open arms by everyone at the Crieff Hydro, and all the team members were very nice to me. As the hotel is big I did get lost trying to find my way about, but I knew I could speak to anyone as they were always so cheerful and keen to help.

As soon as I started working on Monday morning, we were shown around the resort and spa. Fiona, the Spa Manager, talked to us about everything that goes on during a typical day – it is a fun, busy and vibrant department. Fiona took the time to train us in some of the treatments available at Crieff Hydro, and we got to work with the 5-star brand, Aromatherapy Associates. We learned ‘Aching Foot’, ‘Nourishing Scalp Massage’ and then a ‘File and Polish’ using CND brand Vinylux. It was interesting to work with all the different products the spa had on offer.

Throughout the week I was able to do eight treatments in total, on other Crieff Hydro team members, this was very insightful, as I could get feedback from someone who didn’t know me. It gave me the opportunity to showcase my skills and they could advise me how to improve.

On Friday we mentioned that we would like to do some back massages. Although Fiona was surprised by this she threw on a tunic and taught us some moves that were new and different to our college routine. They found us some team members to have treatments and I got to practice giving four back massages. It was great that they were able to take our requests and turn it around so quickly to give us an even better placement.

I learned a lot about working in a professional environment and how to act around clients, because in my academy we are all friends so it’s a more relaxed environment. The treatment rooms in the spa were also a completely new environment for me to work in, we are used to having curtains in-between treatment tables but here I had my very own treatment room and it was one-to-one with my client. My favourite part of the week was having the hot and cold stone massage, as I have never experienced one before, it’s definitely something I would want to learn and be able to do myself in the future.

Another interesting thing about the placement was learning a new technique for a foot scrub, which involves taking the grains of the exfoliator and mixing them with body wash to exfoliate the foot and leg. Then I took the body gel and oil, mixing them together, I rubbed it into the leg and foot. Finally, I used Aromatherapy body lotion and performed a 10-minute massage onto my client’s foot and leg.

Overall, my time on placement was a positive one and I can take a lot from it. The main thing I will take away is learning to be more professional. This is something I struggle with so being put into a spa environment was a real challenge for me, but I feel like I have improved my skills. Future plans include working on cruise ships. I chose a placement far away from home (well, an hour away) to see what it would be like in the future. As soon as I leave college I want to travel everywhere with my job so this was a brilliant start.

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