After one look at the pristine pools packed with toys, and it’s no surprise why La Petite Baleen’s four San Francisco–area swim facilities are so popular with kids. What may be surprising, however, is that the flourishing network of schools started humbly in the backyard pool of John Kolbisen and Irene Madrid.
In 1979, the public school teachers were brainstorming ways to integrate their passion for educating kids with their love of the water. Starting with their own three children, some neighborhood kids, and their logo–Waverly the Whale, John and Irene began teaching swim lessons with a rather progressive philosophy: They approached swimming not just as an extracurricular activity, but as a means to boost self-confidence, build friendships, and learn to overcome fears.
More than 30 years later, La Petite Baleen has become a renowned family of schools, partnered with the U.S. Swim School Association and the Swim for Life Foundation. Part of the success has to do with how children are grouped. In weekly sessions, pods of tots of similar age, skill level, and personality evolve at a similar pace—earning individual achievement ribbons as they do. Kids make friends in the group, and the recurring scheduling means that they can stay enrolled with their new buddies indefinitely or until they grow their own dorsal fins. Each location’s indoor pools are kept at an inviting 90 degrees, in an attempt to make even the most timid student to feel comfortable in the water. Perhaps most importantly, the teachers participate in ongoing training designed to encourage empathetic, yet firm teaching methods.
Located in San Bruno, Courtyard by Marriott San Francisco Airport is in the business district and minutes from Tanforan Park Shopping Center and Artichoke Joe's Casino. This eco-friendly hotel is within close proximity of South San Francisco Convention Center and Millbrae Square Shopping Center. n Rooms
Make yourself at home in one of the 147 air-conditioned guestrooms. Complimentary wired and wireless Internet access keeps you connected, and satellite programming provides entertainment. Bathrooms feature shower/tub combinations, complimentary toiletries, and hair dryers. Conveniences include complimentary weekday newspapers and coffee/tea makers, as well as multi-line phones with voice mail. n Rec, Spa, Premium Amenities
Be sure to enjoy recreational amenities, including an indoor pool, a spa tub, and a fitness facility. Additional amenities include complimentary wireless Internet access, a fireplace in the lobby, and a television in the lobby. n Dining
You can enjoy a meal at a restaurant serving the guests of Courtyard by Marriott San Francisco Airport, or stop in at a grocery/convenience store. At the end of the day, relax with your favorite drink at a bar/lounge. Cooked-to-order breakfasts are available for a fee. n Business, Other Amenities
Featured amenities include complimentary high-speed (wired) Internet access, a 24-hour business center, and audiovisual equipment. This hotel has 2 meeting rooms available for events. A roundtrip airport shuttle is provided at no charge.
In 2001, the first iTAN Sun Spray Spa opened its doors. It had a simple goal—to make clients feel and look lovely with professional tanning services. Today, the spa has more than 30 Southern California franchises, each offering a slightly different assortment of teeth whitening, tanning beds, spray-tanning booths, and self-serve spa offerings.
The Smart Tan–certified staff prioritizes keeping up with tanning technology by stocking state-of-the-art tanning beds such as the Sun Angel, which uses sensors to customize a blend of UVA and UVB rays, practically eliminating overexposure. Many beds come equipped with stereo sound systems, misters, and fans. Just down the hall from these beauty gadgets, Mystic and airbrush machines bronze limbs without UV rays, and self-administered spa treatments dispense relaxing red-light facials, infrared-heat bodywraps, and aqua massages.
Though the birth of a child changes the lives of all parents, it doesn’t usually spark inspiration for a new business. But for the Soon family, the arrival of son Jordan Alexander highlighted the need for a place where little ones can explore, learn, and socialize through interactive play. So the parents created Diddalidoo to fill this void.
The Soon family's playground welcomes kids aged 0–4 to play with toys and solve puzzles within its colorful confines. Separate areas cater to different age groups, with a baby area perfect for honing sensory skills and discussing the rising costs of rattles. A two-level playground looms over the toddler play area and creates laughs with its bright-yellow racing slides. Granting breaks from playtime, a quiet room caters to nursing mothers, a boutique shop sells gifts, and an onsite café serves up health-focused snacks and food for hungry teddy bears.
Understanding that each child learns differently, the staff members of Sylvan Learning Center’s numerous study centers design custom lesson programs. Based on the results of standardized testing, diagnostic tools, and one-on-one interviews, the staff works with students to help them to firmly grasp basic skills such as reading, writing, math, and how to remember facts without tattooing them to their chest. Programs target students in kindergarten through grade 12 and mold to various learning styles, helping kids to feel more comfortable in the classroom. After-school or summer classes can ready high-school students for the rigors of the ACT or the SAT, or they can help students to wow college admissions officers with their superior writing skills, exemplary test scores, and willingness to arm-wrestle the school mascot.
The staff at Plaza 101 Salon and Spa helps clients look their best from crown to toenail, cultivating elegant looks amid stately surroundings of exposed brick and mahogany furnishings. In addition to trimming wayward strands, the stylists can invent a dramatic new look by using highlights or lowlights to add depth and dimension. The salon's massage therapist designs custom sessions that can incorporate a mélange of Swedish, deep-tissue, shiatsu, myofascial-release, and reiki therapies in order to address each individual's needs. While the nail technicians beautify digits with the rejuvenating benefits of paraffin dips and Dead Sea salt, Dr. Debra Mowery steps in to offer physician-supervised cosmetic procedures, including injectable dermal fillers, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion sessions that can improve the skin's tone, texture, and bioluminescent capabilities.