Could Your Teen Use a Charm Lesson? Let the Ritz-Carlton Take Over

By Melanie Nayer

The first part of Charm Camp took place in the kitchen. Thomas Connell, Executive Chef of The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach, taught teens about nutrition, good fats and bad fats, and how to make healthy eating decisions. While the watermelon and feta salad was a flop with the girls, the pesto pizza was a huge hit. (Side note: I loved the watermelon and feta salad.)

Cooking pizza with Chef Thomas Connell

Following the feeding, the girls moved to the “living room” where they were taught the Art of Conversation by Ritz-Carlton employees. The hour-and-a-half session was led by the hotel’s public relations staff and takes a page out of The Ritz-Carlton handbook of customer service (a page some adults would benefit from reading, also). The purpose was to educate teens on how to conduct themselves like a lady – from the proper way to sit to the appropriate way to answer the phone.

“When I ask you, ‘how are you today?’ how are you going to reply?” asked Michelle Payer, area public relations director of the Ritz-Carlton. Immediately when all the girls replied, “Fine” Payer quickly correct them (much to the delight of parents everywhere), “‘Fine’ is never the answer.”

The appropriate answer is “wonderful,” “fantastic,” or simply, “I’m great, thank you.” Each one of the girls were tested as the day went on to see if they remembered this simple, but often forgotten rule. I’m pleased to report they all passed the “I’m fine” pop-quiz with flying colors. After they practiced their posture by walking with a book on their head the girls were taught the proper way to descend a staircase and make an entrance. At first a little nervous, each girl slowly embraced the stairs. With their heads held high, the teens practiced gracefully walking down a staircase – one hand delicately on the banister for guidance and eyes forward at all times, acknowledging your guests at the bottom of the stairs.

Perfecting the art of posture

Before retreating to what I’m sure would be the highlight of the day, the girls took part in what could only be considered an archaic activity: writing thank you notes.

The email generation looked confused at first, then quietly retreated into their chairs and started writing letters. I had a momentary flashback to my teenage years, before computers, when a spiral notebook pasted with photos of Jon Bon Jovi and Ricky Schroder held my deepest secrets. I remembered how great it was to receive postcards in the mail, and how I need to do a better job of sending postcards to friends and family when I travel.

A letter to "Mom"

A letter to "Mom"

A quick snack and the girls were off to a cosmetics class, sponsored by Benefit Cosmetics. This hour-long session was hosted by Ritz-Carlton makeup artists and focused on the ‘less is more’ theory when it comes to makeup. Their young faces brightened under the makeup mirrors, each teen eager to get a lesson in looking their best.  The makeup artists made a point to teach the young ladies about age-appropriate colors and coverage, and each teen walked away with a deluxe gift bag of Benefit Cosmetics to use at home.

The Benefits make-up bag

With only a few hours left in the day, it was lecture time. What does it mean to be a role model? Two dancers from the Miami HEAT answered poignant and well-thought out questions from the dancers that ranged from how they got into dancing, to how to become popular in school. The dancers explained to the girls the fundamentals of being a role model, how to make a positive impression and the importance of being an active member of the community.

Dance lesson from the Miami HEAT

Before all the girls – HEAT and teens – gathered to learn a quick dance (which no doubt would be performed at the next slumber party), the HEAT dancers ended with a final thought: you are responsible for your own actions, and reactions, and creating your own future – a lesson one can take home at any age.

Think your child would benefit from Charm Camp? Get in touch with the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, Miami, for information on the upcoming Fall camps.