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Pärnu in Estonia – a perfect place to study wellness

Wellness and Spa Service Design and Management, a Master’s Programme at the University of Tartu, Pärnu College — by Programme Manager Kai Tomasberg.

In warm autumn days, I like to reach the college with a small detour, and so I take a quiet street that leads me to the park. The Pärnu College is located in a picturesque area at the Pärnu River, and about 15 minutes walking distance from the famous Pärnu beach. Between the beach and some colourful wooden houses and large buildings of medical spas, there is a park with old pine trees, bend by forceful winter storms. The land is flat and vulnerable to floods from the sea and river.

Pärnu, a small town on the Western coast of Estonia was a famous resort already in the 19th century offering seawater and mud therapy to foreign guests coming mainly from Russia. The fame grew and so did the expertise to provide resort therapy as a package of fresh sea air, the sun, physical movement, rest, massage, hydrotherapy, sea bathing but also cultural entertainment like concerts and dancing evenings. Not only people’s bodies needed improvement, but so did their souls.

Pärnu gained more popularity and as an addition to traditional mad baths, big modern sanatoriums were built in the 20th century. Large functional establishments accommodated, rehabilitated, and entertained hundreds of people from different regions of the Soviet Union. Working people received treatments approved and ordered by sanatorium’s medical staff. After the collapse of the soviet regime, sanatoriums changed their image and became medical spas with a wide range of water therapy, famous natural mud baths, massages, and many, many more services for the improvement of people’s health, serving customers mainly from Northern Europe.

It took a while before the traditional Western medicine acknowledged spa treatments and wellness services as a serious alternative to medical care. Nowadays several types of spas are existing side by side, wellness and spa services are considered as integrative medicine and are even suggested by doctors as a form of natural therapy and prevention.

Autumn is a beautiful season here in Pärnu. The usual summer busyness has already slowed down and the streets and cafeterias in the beach area are less crowded. It is easy to find a quiet place to sit and look at the sea. The temperature is still warm, and the sun is shining. The air from the sea is bringing a cool freshness that reminds us of approaching winter period. Holidays are over and it is time to concentrate on work and studies. Quiet Pärnu has the perfect environment for that.

Our first year Master’s students are often taking walks here in the park and discussing topics of various courses. The first and often the most complicated topic is the wellness concept itself. Seemingly, everybody knows what wellness is, but to grasp the whole spectrum of different aspects of it – a holistic approach to wellness, require research, analysis, and a deeper understanding of the philosophy behind it. This is how our students of the international Master’s programme Wellness and Spa Service Design and Management start their two-years study journey here in Pärnu.

Everything in our life has an impact on our well-being: our physical and mental health, work and living environment, our finances and self-development, our relationships, and ties with community. We want a good life, and we know that a lot depends on our own attitude, choices, and the way we live our life.

Wellness combines two words: well-being and fitness that can be interpreted as a perfect status quo that everybody is aiming for. But like with any goal, before reaching it, we must go through a long process of challenges, changes, and choices. The same happens with wellness. We must make smart choices and take a good care of ourselves, only then we can reach wellness. That is the motto for many of us. That also tells us how important is the work that people are doing providing wellness and spa services. The expectations of the guests are very high. In order to serve people, to offer them the best of the best, professional well-educated service providers are needed in wellness and spa sector. Wellness and Spa Service Design and Management Master’s programme is offering a unique opportunity to dive deeply into wellness world, become a true enthusiast and fan of wellness, even more – a wellness professional! Our strength is to study in small dynamic groups that allow students to communicate directly and personally with international experts and lecturers, take study trips to spa and wellness facilities, get personal work experiences during internship period, and do research on topics that inspire and motivate. There are also tuition waivers available for the best applicants.

Pärnu College is cooperating with local spas and wellness centres, our students are welcome there for study visits but also to run surveys and research, solve problems and offer service design ideas for the companies. With the help of regular study visits the students get a real understanding how spa and wellness business works.

During the first study year, the students learn about wellness and spa service design and development, nutrition and spa cuisine, health and wellness tourism, wellness and spa service quality management. Additionally, the students are provided with thorough understanding of sustainable development, human resource and service management, strategic and financial management, digital design and marketing. The second study year offers many opportunities to strengthen the new knowledge such as internship abroad, possible exchange studies in other universities, doing research and working on the thesis.

Modern wellness and spa service design is much more complex than designing a bath or a massage; it is about responsible development and design of healthy lifestyle-based holistic services that can serve as a well-functioning prevention programme for people who want to invest in their health.

When you see your future in working in the fastest and most innovative industry – wellness industry serving people by contributing to their health – our international study programme is the right choice!
Check out more about Wellness and Spa Service Design programme at the University of Tartu, Estonia here. If you need some advice, send your questions to Kai Tomasberg: [email protected]