By Marcia Narine Weldon
I wouldn’t call myself a wine connoisseur, but a nice glass of red wine is good for the heart, so I will indulge occasionally. I am a connoisseur of anything related to self-care, especially while traveling. If you love wine, spas, an eclectic ambiance, and you happen to be in the Tampa Bay, Florida area, I’ve found the perfect hotel for you. I had the pleasure of spending the night (wish it was longer) at the Epicurean Hotel in the trendy Soho District full of restaurants, bars, and boutiques. I checked in after a short flight from Miami but on barely two hours of sleep so imagine my delight to have the front desk agent greet me with a big smile and an offer of wine or champagne at 9:00 a.m.
I stumbled to my room bleary-eyed (not from the wine) and almost went straight to the rainforest shower, but I knew if I did that, I would have missed my 10:00 a.m. massage.
Before my massage, I treated myself to a hearty breakfast of shrimp and grits with a pot of white orchid tea. The chef provided just the right amount of spice in the shrimp and creaminess in the grits. You take a risk when you order shrimp and grits in an upscale hotel, but this dish did not disappoint.
I may not be a wine expert, but I am an expert on massages and facials having owned a salon years ago. I can’t say enough good things about my experience at Spa Evangeline, which was tiny but felt like an oasis. I knew I was in the right place when I walked in and saw beautiful, minimalist jewelry. The first three necklaces I picked up were the exact stones that I had written down earlier in the day to add to my growing crystal collection. I loved the fact that the spa supported a local female jewelry designer, Tracy Savage.
I walked/limped into the spa with hip and shoulder pain and walked out nearly pain-free after my deep tissue massage with Danielle. Next, I had the HydraFacial with Tameka. I thought long and hard about spending so much money on these services, but it was worth it. This isn’t the typical relaxing facial experience. The aesthetician uses a machine to suck out impurities and put nourishment back into the skin. It felt more medical than spa-like, but I loved the results, and will definitely do it again. For the first time, I have not broken out after a facial. Below, I have posted a picture with my aesthetician, who treated me to a nice glass of pinot after my facial.
I didn’t get to eat at the hotel because I attended a wedding and a reception in another must-see location in Tampa, the Oxford Exchange, a combination bookstore, gift store, restaurant, co-working space, design studio, and event venue. If you love teas, good books, and cool vibes, this is the place to be. A lot of the wedding attendees lived in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area and never even knew it existed. I could see spending an entire afternoon here.
Sadly, I didn’t get to stay for the dancing because I had an early morning flight to Panama. One thing I know for sure, my 24 hours in Tampa and at the Epicurean whetted my appetite for a longer stay and more self-care.
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Also published on Medium.