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WTS International

Life’s great pleasures inspire WTS International’s foodie spa in the Epicurean Hotel, Florida

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Spa Evangeline offers a unique experience inspired by two of life’s greatest pleasures: food and wine.

The spa is in Epicurean Hotel in Tampa, Florida – a Marriott Autograph Collection property that celebrates food and wine through a range of gastronomic offerings. Epicurean Hotel was developed in collaboration with Mainsail Lodging & Development and Bern’s Steak House, which is located across the road. Established in 1956, Bern’s is a legendary dining venue state-wide and beyond, thanks to its dry-aged steaks, 200-plus wine list and famous cellar, with one of the largest private wine collections in the world.

“We’re crafting a foodie’s paradise, a wine lover’s dream. There’s no greater homage to life than to indulge in and explore all the flavours that it has to offer,” steak house founder Bern Laxer once said.

That’s the spirit that infuses the Epicurean Hotel – which boasts a state-of-the-art culinary classroom, restaurant, rooftop cocktail bar, patisserie and Bern’s Fine Wines & Spirits shop – so when WTS International was hired to design and manage Spa Evangeline, it picked up the culinary lead from there.

Introducing a product offering that reflected the values of the hotel was an important starting point for WTS. Farm-to-table brand FarmHouse Fresh and vinothérapie line Caudalie were chosen for their clear kinship with Epicurean’s stories.

“These products inspired not only the menu, with their brand stories that emphasise the use of fresh ingredients and making the most of each part of what nature gives us, but also the design of the space,” says Mary Lynn Mellinger, WTS director of planning and design services. “We pulled from the rich and vibrant colours of the ingredients that go into these product lines as we chose the colour palette and materials for the space.”

Inside the boutique spa, which has two massage rooms, two couple’s rooms and one skincare room, the food and wine themes are brought into play. A vibrant herb wall offers guests the chance to select ingredients to add to their treatments, referencing the farm-to-table movement that underlines the values of the hotel, Bern’s restaurant and FarmHouse Fresh. Working with a spa sommelier, the guests can introduce herbs, fruits and essential oils to their treatment.

“Spa Evangeline is a day spa with a foodie twist,” says Mellinger. “Just as the hotel seeks to whet the appetites of its guests, the spa offers a way for guests to enjoy the food-inspired surroundings and choose edible ingredients to add to their body treatments and massage scrubs – and the herbs are even used to flavour the drinking water that’s served. It’s a fun way to carry the farm-to-table concept into the spa.”

Created and maintained by Uriah, Alabama’s Urban Farms, the herb wall includes cilantro, mint and decorative plants. Up to 30 plants can grow happily in a single square foot on the vertical wall and they are nurtured organically without harmful pesticides. The herbs are also used by the hotel’s high-end restaurant, Elevage.

Weaving the oenology and viticulture theme into the design of the spa, WTS drew on the extensive wine collection at neighbouring Bern’s Steakhouse to create a full-scale cork wall made from 28,000 wine corks, re-purposed from the restaurant and assembled one by one. The living herb wall is mounted in the middle of the cork wall located in the nail salon, The Cellar.

Evangeline Spa has thus created a mini-concept and spa experience that reflects the wider values of the hotel and its partners and pays tribute to Bern’s advice on life: “indulge in the flavours it has to offer”.

Spa Evangeline

Spa area

Cost of hotel and spa

March 2014

Spa owner
Epicurean Hotel / Mainsail Lodging and Development Group

Spa manager
WTS International

WTS International, Urban Studio, Gettys Hospitality Design

Design inspiration
Bern’s Steak House

Treatment rooms
Two massage rooms, two couples rooms and one skincare room

Spa Evangeline
Spa Evangeline
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