The 2010 Winter Olympics are coming to Whistler, British Columbia, and with it the usual influx of teen snowboarding dudes and dudettes. Yet, for now at least, the Four Seasons Whistler Resort seems to be focused on meeting the needs of a different sort of visiting teen: your average mopey adolescent who thinks tagging behind the parental unit is bor-ing!
The resort’s Teen Concierge Program, launched by Ben Podborski (son of 1980 Olympic downhill medalist Steve Podborski), is among the first to provide teens with a complimentary info guru — usually an outgoing 15- to 17-year-old local with the inside scoop on outdoor adventures, shopping or the coolest hangouts. So, rather than dying of embarrassment from skiing with mom and dad, jaded hipsters can now find themselves pursuing activities that are way cooler: bungee jumping into Cheakamus Canyon, dogsledding with Alaskan huskies or a ziptrek ecotour.
Other luxury resorts are also starting to realize that while Kids Clubs satisfy the wants of tots and tweens, teen travelers have long been neglected. The Ritz Carlton Palm Beach recently opened Coast, a “teen lounge” tricked out with video games, DJ-ing and Guitar Hero, plus a beauty salon fit for a teenage glamour puss (who can immortalize head-to-toe makeovers with a dedicated fashion photo shoot).
But it’s the Four Seasons that continue to bang the teen drum the loudest. Following the success of the Whistler program, the company now offers teen concierges at their Costa Rica and Beverly Wilshire properties. At the Four Seasons Hualalai, on Hawaii’s Big Island, 10- to 17-year-olds can sign up for Junior Alaka’i Nalu, a three-day training program teaching young landlubbers the professional lifestyle of the Alaka’i Nalu (“leaders of the waves”).
Skills taught include surfing and traditional outrigger canoeing, as well as ocean safety, CPR and rescue maneuvers. The teen concierges here are known as “ocean ambassadors” and, like the original Waikiki beach boys of the 1940s, after whom they are fashioned, provide these unique services for a charge — for which, of course, there’s always mom and dad.