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Erica Ehm


Spoiled Silly at Safety Harbor
Excellent food, wonderful pampering and magic mirrors


Evelyn Hannon

Everyone at Florida's Safety Harbor Spa has real attitude -- helping attitude, healing attitude and, best of all, pampering attitude.

"How you doin' today?" smiled Claxton as he took my bag and held the door open for me.

"What can I get for you darlin?" coaxed Jo Ann, my dining room waitress.

"Ready to be spoiled silly?" asked Vicki, the esthetician in charge of my facial.

I was on a heavenly, four day sabbatical from a hectic big city routine, and I was loving every minute of it

Located right on Tampa Bay, Safety Harbor is one of America's oldest spas. Their curative mineral springs have been a draw for the last fifty years. Even today, a long therapeutic soak in their "waters" is still the perfect rejuvenation for a gal's sore body and tired mind. And drinking eight glasses a day really isn't difficult because this water tastes terrific, too.

Rooms at the spa are newly renovated, very big and as female-friendly as they come. Expect a hair dryer in every bathroom as well as an ironing board and iron tucked away in your hall cupboard. There's fluffy terry robes, towels galore and the most flattering lighting I've ever experienced. I was fascinated with a mirror that made me look terrific even before I started to eat healthy.

And eat healthy, I did. Menu items are cooked to gourmet perfection. Taste level-- high. Calorie count-- low. Lunch on the first day began with a wild field salad topped with toasted sunflower seeds and blackberry vinaigrette. Then came the main course - herb crusted red snapper served on a bed of calypso beans and summer squash stew. Dessert was frozen yogurt topped with luscious, seasonal berries. Mmmm good! Guess how many calories in total? Three hundred and fifty!

A bit of dieting feels real easy here. In fact, Veronica, the spa's food educator checks with each guest to see whether they have any particular food needs. She sent me home with an easy low-cal recipe for "stir-fry sesame chicken and veggies."

Happily, at Safety Harbor, there are no complicated exercise schedules and no drill sergeants to see that you are keeping busy. In fact, once guests have registered and settled in, they are left entirely on their own. There's a state-of-the-art fitness center offering 35 exercise classes daily, but you can choose to simply loll in a hammock by the water, if you like. One woman I met over lunch told me she'd tried everything from boxercise classes to step sessions and heart-thumping aquaerobics. I chose only the early outdoor yoga classes given by Ann Hodges, a former June Taylor dancer. She was lovely and told me I was doing beautifully. She lied! Being a novice, I found myself giggling as I invented new positions to help me keep up with the class. Yet, it was so good to be out in the fresh air, stretching and "saluting the sun" as it rose over the bay.

I just loved the pampering. Every day a selection of five different massages, from Swedish to shiatsu, were available to guests. My first choice was aromatherapy, done with heavenly serenity oil. My masseuse, Roseanne, came through with flying colors! Need I say more?

Then, for a very special European facial, I put myself into Vicki's healing hands. Against a background of soothing new age music, my face was steamed, cleansed, exfoliated and toned till it glistened. Next, the ultimate treat --a massage that mercilessly destroyed any tension that dared to hide in my neck, shoulders or upper back. Ahhh!

During my 4-day stay, I had mud baths, herbal wraps, saunas, a pedicure, and a Turkish bath. Each treatment, in its own way, soothed and comforted me.

In my "free" time, I sat by the bay reading or watching the spindly-legged snowy egrets nonchalantly picking their way along the shore. My batteries were definitely recharging!

On my final day at the spa, I woke up at 6:00 am to do a solitary work-out on the treadmill. As I walked back to my room, the sun was rising and the sky was bright pink silouetting the palms that line the property. In the lounge, a guest in sweats was at the piano tinkling a meditative tune. He smiled as I walked by. I felt good. I felt strong. All was well with the world.

Want to be Spoiled Silly Too?:

Safety Harbor Resort and Spa is located on the shores of Tampa Bay. It's about twenty minutes from two major international airports: Tampa International Airport and St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport.

For special summer rates, brochures or any other info call 888-BEST SPA (237-8772) toll free.

Pay a visit to the spa's informative website at You'll find everything from Florida tourist info to delicious lo-cal recipes.

Expect lovely surroundings and an informal atmosphere at Safety Harbor. Clothing and service is casual. It's not unusual to see people lunch dressed in their spa robes.

From hydrating cleansing milk to spa massage body moisturizer, the skincare product of choice at the spa is Terme di Saturnia . JW especially enjoyed their Thermal Plankton Rejuvenation Mask . Contains lots of good natural ingredients. Ask about it!





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