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Bali International Spa Academy, Bali, Indonesia


Founded in 2006 by Penny Ellis, a spa veteran with 40 years of experience, the Bali International Spa Academy has lived up to its mission of excellence through professionalism. It is now widely regarded as one of Asia’s leading spa, massage, aesthetics and wellness training schools. It is a CIBTAC accredited school and the first to offer CIBTAC endorsed courses such as Balinese Massage, Lomi Lomi Massage, Maternity Program, Thai Program, Ayurvedic Program, Spice Islands Program, Shiatsu Program and Slimming Program.

The trainers are all highly experienced therapists and must pass a three month training programme before becoming trainers. Often the academy has guest presenters for workshops. The academy works closely with Ellen Watson, one of only 20 Esalen Massage trainers in the world, and one of the best known.

It caters predominantly to students from all over the world and only about 5 per cent of them are Indonesians and most of these are working abroad and need CIBTAC certification to continue working in their desired country. According to Ellis, there were many first-rate spas on the islands, but no professionally managed spa schools upholding increasingly demanding international standards. The demand for spa therapists is growing phenomenally and employers are seeking those who have professional training, and increasingly international certification such as CIBTAC.

The academy offers 33 courses: Five to 10 day courses based on Bali BISA custom designed curriculums and syllabus. Topics include basic spa therapies, holistic modalities, health and wellness, aesthetics, Ayurvedic and maternity. The courses are further combined into longer programmes and comprehensive therapist training programmes. The academy also offers Spa Management courses.

Very few of the courses have pre-requisites. The Spa Management courses require several years as a spa therapist. The CIBTAC endorsed programme requires the formal education of anatomy and physiology, but students can take this at Bali BISA along with their course at a discounted rate. Otherwise the academy accepts students with the desire and enthusiasm, from novice to professional.

The basic Bali BISA five day courses are US$540 to US$570. CIBTAC QCF 10 day programmes start at US$1,300 and the 40 day programmes are almost US$3,000. CIBTAC courses are more expensive as they are more comprehensive and require practical and theory exams by a CIBTAC examiner.