Vacationing with teens can be a challenge.
Chances are that what you enjoy on vacation may not resonate with the younger set. For a young person's view of the Canyon Ranch experience, we spoke to some teens about their family stays at the Tucson and Lenox resorts. Some arrived unsure what to expect, but all agreed that they discovered boundless opportunities for fun and individual exploration.
Teen says nine Ranch visits are just the beginning
Vacationing with unwilling teens is never a problem for the Elgart family of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Tina Elgart has two daughters, ages 17 and 23, and a son, Sam. At age 16, Sam has visited Canyon Ranch nine times and counting, with eight visits to Lenox and one to Tucson.
“I love Canyon Ranch; it’s a wonderful place. I’m never bored,” he says.
His most recent Ranch visit was to Tucson – a first for Sam, who had never seen the desert before. “It’s a whole new experience if you’re from a different state,” he says. The scenery and the wildlife on a hike in Sabino Canyon were well worth the early start necessary in hot weather – as was meeting his first herd of peccaries, that look like wild boar. Each property has its own charms, he says; Lenox is gentler, and Tucson more rugged.
A keen golf, squash and tennis player at school, he usually spends mornings at the Ranch working out in the gym. Working with a personal trainer was fun, he says. “We’d work out, then go swimming. It’s a huge workout; and in between, my trainer, Blaise, and I would talk about sports – just like talking to a friend.”
As a serious golfer, Sam spent a lot of time at the Tucson property’s Golf Performance Center. “They were really nice there, and they helped me with my swing and my stance,” he says. His favorite activity, in both Lenox and Tucson, is Wallyball. “I play whenever I can. And I always play tennis, basketball, squash and racquetball. I like the indoor tennis courts at Lenox.” While in Lenox he tried fencing for the first time, and has added the sport to his growing list of favorites. During summer visits to Lenox, Sam says he enjoys playing croquet with Managing Director Reggie Cooper. “This is a big activity on Monday afternoons that everyone looks forward to.”
He swims a lot, and says he appreciates the salt chlorination system at the Ranch. “There’s less chlorine smell, and it doesn’t sting your eyes.” He also enjoys cooking classes – “I did classes on chicken and chocolate with Chef Billy in Lenox, and I cook at home with my sisters.”
What was it like being a younger guest? Not an issue, he says, seeming surprised at the question. “Everyone’s so kind to you. At Canyon Ranch, you’re around people who want to be around you.”
Sam finds plenty of fellow guests of all ages to spend time with. “In Lenox, I met a group of guys in their 20s, from New York, and I played tennis, Wallyball and a lot of basketball with them. They were very friendly. In Tucson, I met a girl my age, from San Francisco. I biked, hiked, and went on the Ropes Course with her, and we also just hung out around Canyon Ranch.”
They also attended presentations – another favorite with Sam. “They tell you what to do and not do to stay healthy. Mel Zuckerman’s lecture at the Life Enhancement Center in Tucson tells it all.”
Sam puts what he learns into practice, such as the importance of sleep. “I try to study as soon as I get home from school and get to bed early. It really helps, especially if I have a class early in the morning.”
One presentation, on how to avoid heart attacks, he found especially relevant. “In 2008, my dad had a heart attack. In the lecture, I learned what to do so I won’t have one – like stay away from fried foods, go to bed on time, eat healthy and exercise one hour each day. I think it’s going to change my life.”
Something for everyone
Sam’s two sisters also love the family Ranch visits. “Sometimes my oldest sister, Ashley, brings her boyfriend. He absolutely loves Canyon Ranch.” On their recent Tucson visit, Sam and his mother came without his sisters, meeting up for meals to compare notes about their day’s activities.
“My mom likes to have a theme for each of her trips,” says Sam. “For example, once she learned how to swim. Another time she focused on Hike and Paint classes. She also uses a lot of the medical services available. I love doing yoga and Pilates, and I enjoy meditation – it’s really relaxing. I feel like at Canyon Ranch you can pretty much learn everything. There’s always something to do.”
After returning home, he stays in touch via technology. “My mom has a Canyon Ranch application that she uses all the time. I do, too. It’s kind of like being one-on-one with a Canyon Ranch instructor.”
Ranch hits the target for all ages
High school senior Jonathan Schwartz, from New York, enjoys taking family trips. A visit to Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, with his parents, Kenneth and Beth, to celebrate Ken’s 60th birthday, was definitely not something he’d turn down. But, says the 17-year, old, “I didn’t think I’d have an awesome time. I didn’t even know there’d be TV. I thought a spa was mostly people having massages and doing yoga.” After an overflowing week of classes and activities, and discovering a passion for hiking, he says he’s hooked for life.
Beth has visited Canyon Ranch in Lenox annually for 11 years with her sisters and girlfriends, and took daughter Ilana there for her 16th birthday, but the April 2011 trip to Tucson was Jon and Ken’s first visit to the Ranch – and Jon’s first experience of the West. Unacquainted with the Ranch, the two visited a local golf course on their first day. “I thought I’d play golf most days,” said Jon, speaking between forkfuls of a hearty post-hike lunch, “but I didn’t know about the hikes and classes. I wanted to be here.”
Discovering new interests
Energized by a session of interval walking on the second day, he joined early morning hikes in nearby Sabino Canyon. As the youngest person present in most cases, he’d expected to feel out of place, but he says he was never conscious of any age barrier. “I met a lot of nice people, and I related well to the guides. One was in his 70s, and he was amazing.” New to the desert, he was entranced by the scenery. “We started about seven, and the cactus flowers were all closed – then when we came back, the buds opened. It was really cool.” After seeing people hiking far up the mountain, he’s decided he wants to try some serious mountain hikes – but that’ll be for next time, he says.
“I don’t have to worry when he’s away from us,” says Beth. “I feel safe here. The people here really know what they’re doing.”
Usually late to bed and a late riser, Jon says he fell into a routine of going to bed around 10:30 and heading out early. TV-watching was relegated to 10 minutes before going to sleep. Though he uses Facebook and his cell phone frequently at home, he didn’t miss using technology around the Ranch. “It’s good to just rest and put it to one side.”
After hikes Jon relaxed by the pool. Sometimes he joined Beth and Ken for classes, but mostly he followed his own schedule. It was mix and match – father and son did men’s stretch together and checked out some of the Golf Performance Center offerings, Jon explored classes alone, including a water workout class, and all three joined forces for pool classes, Foot Fitness and other activities – including a painting class and Bingo. “They were both really fun,” says Jon. “I had a good time.”
An awareness of wellness
Ken says, “I enjoy the transformational aspect of the Canyon Ranch lifestyle. There’s an awareness of wellness here – it’s a very positive vibe. We’ve brought both of our kids here because it’s a good lifestyle that we would want them to follow.”
He also encouraged Jon to sample several services. “At his age, this is a good time to try different things.”
“I had my first massage,” says Jon. “It was really nice.” In fact, he had two – as well as a Men’s Facial and a reflexology session. “And I love the locker room. I really enjoy the steam room and the whirlpool.” Suggested workouts provided by his trainer at home ended up untouched. “I haven’t had time to work out.”
The gym is on his list for next time, along with Wallyball, which he missed in the flurry of other activities, the Zipline, mountain hiking and maybe biking. Next time may not be for a while, since he starts college soon, but Jon says he’ll definitely be returning to Canyon Ranch, even once it’s time to pay his own way.
“I would come back on my own. My parents were the catalyst – but they’ve started something.”
Ranch Memberships: Linking Generations
Staying at Canyon Ranch in Tucson is an annual family vacation for Leo and Laura Kornfeld and their children and grandchildren, who live as far apart as New York, Michigan and Florida. Laura, a lifetime member, purchased memberships for the family when they were young adults. “Now we children have kids,” says daughter Nancy Danielle. “This is our chance to get together.”
Nancy Danielle and her daughters, Kayla, 15, and Arianna, 17, joined Leo, Laura and other family members at the Ranch for a week in April, 2011, staying in a condo on the property.
It was Kayla’s second visit and Arianna’s third. Chatting with the two teens was like being caught in a hurricane of enthusiasm. They were extracting every ounce out of the week’s visit, sampling every class, the more unusual the better, and counting every moment that they weren’t getting involved in something new as wasted. Pelting the words out, sometimes finishing each other’s sentences, they talked about their Ranch experiences.
Kayla: It never gets boring. I take a class every hour.
Arianna: I like Pilates. I like the more obscure classes. Beaming is really cool.
Kayla: Canyon Ranch is really ‘the Power of Possibility.’ We’ve been here one week ...
Arianna: … but we’ve been exposed to it for years. We’ve always heard our family talking about it. We used to be too young to come here. It was exciting getting water bottles from the Ranch, and hearing about it. We couldn’t wait to come. I just got my first massage; it was great. Everyone is nice to us.
Kayla: It’s the only exception to the Power of Possibility – it’s not possible to find a mean person here.
A way of life
For Nancy Danielle, there’s a feeling of continuity in taking her daughters to providers she’s known for years. “In the Beauty Salon, Inga has been taking care of me for 25 years; now she’s gotten to know my teens. I think about this place all year. I’ve been seeing [exercise physiologist] Michael Hewitt for years. He’s seen me through two pregnancies. Six weeks before I come, I work really hard on fitness because I want Michael to be pleased with my numbers.
“I never stop saying ‘thank you’ to my mother for this gift of a Canyon Ranch Life-Share. She had such foresight. I started in my early 20s – now I’m in my 50s and it’s a whole new adventure.” Like her daughters, she has trouble fitting everything she wants to do into one visit. “Next year I want to try the Zipline.”
Her older daughter laughs. “Twenty-five years, and you’re not bored yet!”
Learning and growing
Nancy Danielle wants to ensure that her daughters learn about healthful habits from a young age. “I took them for the Body Composition test, to test their ratio of lean body mass. They learned the difference between muscle and fat. It’s a good way to teach them about optimal body composition while they’re growing.”
Sometimes she doesn’t see the girls from breakfast to lunchtime, as they dash from one class to another, but she doesn’t worry about them. “I feel safe when they’re here,” she says.
“It’s like being at camp,” puts in Arianna. Both sisters feel welcomed in classes, by instructors and by fellow guests. “At Canyon Ranch, you’re not treated like a kid.”
Both girls are on rowing teams at home, and love to stay active. In the evenings at the Ranch, they borrow movies from the Clubhouse, but daytime is nonstop exploration. From Desert Drumming, Boomin’ Babies, Cardio Circuit, Deep Water Pump, yoga and Pilates to crafts, photography and advanced mountain hikes, they enthuse over all the activities they try, and take home what they learn.
“You can challenge yourself no matter what class you do,” says Arianna. “I accidentally went to Joint Freeing, and even though the exercises were really easy for me, I learned skills that will be useful for life. In a Pilates class, there was one lady in her 70s or 80s. She could do things I couldn’t do. She was a role model. We can aspire to be as healthy at that age.
“I wouldn’t call myself an athlete, but I’m fit because of Canyon Ranch. My friends get tired quickly because they have no knowledge of how to take care of themselves. Being here has given me a consciousness of that, now that I know how to take care of myself.”