Favoring small group swimming lessons targeted to all ages, The Aquatic Zone's instructors are trained in the Aquatic Concepts, Inc. method, and use positive reinforcement to teach beginning swimmers the basics of water comfort, body balance, and movement. Once budding amphibians have gotten their foot-flippers wet, they'll try out various strokes and other swimming must-knows such as wall kicks, breathing patterns, and psychic communication with sea life. Lessons are available for children as young as six months and are offered at multiple skill levels for every age group. The goals at each stage are clearly presented and taught, ensuring that the time spent in the pool is always productive and goal-oriented. Awards such as toys, certificates of completion, and surgically implanted gills are bestowed upon students when all the elements of a particular level are mastered. Sessions typically last a half hour, and the saltwater chlorination pools keep water clean without irritating eyes or skin.
A 200-foot downhill tee shot opens Champions Club at the Retreat, rendering the 485-yard, par 5 first hole reachable in two strokes. Such elevational considerations color play throughout the 18-hole course, cradled as it is within the Temescal Valley's undulating canyons adjacent to the Cleveland National Forest. Bermuda grass fairways slink through the rocky outcroppings and low-lying brush, corralling foursomes onto smooth greens of bent grass. Yet despite its imposing appearance, a major renovation in 2011 tempered the course's difficulty a tad, eliminating some of the more punishing aspects of the course such as 16 bunkers.
Anchoring every round is the 25,000-square-foot clubhouse. Done up in a Tuscan theme and accessorized with trickling fountains and golden sunshine, the structure immerses visitors in creature comforts before they tee up. Players can stop for post-round drinks or fuel up for a round with pub-style eats on the grand patio, which overlooks the 9th and 18th greens.
Course at a Glance:
Melanie's Dance Stars is the realization of a lifelong dream. Melanie Brooke Campbell-Durham wanted to be a dancer from the age four. She trained in styles such as ballet, tap, jazz and modern, going on to teach her first class at the ripe age of 15. By 2005, the already accomplished artist earned her Bachelor in Arts degree in Dance Performance and Composition.
While Melanie has taught all over the country, she keeps Melanie's Dance Stars as her home base. Here, she works with boys and girls ages 2.5 and up. The studio's classes and regular performances introduce these budding dancers to the steps of ballet, tap, and jazz.
The beautifully manicured golf course at Hidden Valley carefully incorporates the existing flora, streambeds, and outcropped rocks into its 6,860 yards of dimpled ball habitat, making players of every skill level feel as if they're teeing off in an unspoiled national park. A GPS-enabled cart will keep you from accidentally driving onto the Autobahn as you journey through a pleasantly challenging round of recreational golf (up to a $67 value, cart included). To warm up wrists before the game, guests can flick through a large bucket of balls on the practice green ($10), and once the 18th green has been conquered and purged of its mini-dragon guardians, it's off to the Villa Amalfi Ristorante to refuel. Sip on coffee, tea, or soda, and choose one food item from the breakfast or lunch menu, which includes tasty breakfast burritos ($6.95), mushroom-swiss burgers ($7.95), fried-chicken salad ($10.95), and more (up to $17.95 value). Customers also get their choice of either a hat ($20) or a golf shirt ($65), giving them a change of clothes when their astronaut suit is being dry-cleaned.
In 2003, the teaching staffs behind the Butler-Fearon and the O’Connor-Kennedy Schools realized something: though both academies nurtured the physical, mental, and competitive skills of scores of young Irish dancers, they could form a more robust program by combining forces. Once united, the team of Rose Fearon, Vincent O’Connor, and Kathleen O’Connor—each a certified Irish dance adjudicator—implemented a revised curriculum reaching students from both American coasts to the solid-ice skyscrapers of Ontario. Today, Butler-Fearon-O'Connor trains everyone from girls buckling their jig shoes for the first time to experienced adults, many of whom—such as 2011 world champion Emily Penner—have danced competitively at home or across the pond and landed spots on touring companies for shows such as Riverdance.
Focusing on perfecting traditional form and technique, classes are kept as small as possible, ensuring personalized attention from one of the school's 10 experienced, decorated instructors. Students also learn stamina, flexibility, and presentation, with an emphasis on avoiding motions that tend to draw judges' ire, such as clumsy arm placement and badgering the audience. Many locations also host more casual classes for adults and groups such as Girl Scout troops.
Across the sun-soaked floors, toddlers twirl and scuttle, joyful in their imitation of ballet teachers who instill in them discipline and classic technique. Starting with students ages 2.5 and older, highly trained artistic directors Rachel Swinson-Jacinto (formerly of New York's American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet School as well as a former principal dancer of Inland Dance Theater) and Quincy Jacinto (former principal dancer with Ballet Pacifica and Philippine Ballet Theater) lead dance classes in their homey studio. Ballet instruction is set up for all ages—including one-on-one coaching for professionals—as is contemporary, jazz, tap, and hip-hop dance. The team also runs musical theater and acting classes, as well as yoga and Zumba to create more well-rounded performers.