Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Cover story

Spa treatments for men? Make his a Bern's Bourbon on the Rocks

Whenever my wife gets mad at me, which is often, she threatens to "soften up my rough edges." But as a professional adventurer I can't afford to get too accustomed to creature comforts. In a typical day I am usually baked by the sun, bitten by insects and covered in salt, so rough, tough skin is an asset.

When I was approached by a local public relations executive to do a story on a "Gentleman's Spa Treatment," my initial reaction was "no way."

But looking at the menu for available services, I noticed one that caught my eye, a Bern's Bourbon on the Rocks pedicure.

It sounded more like a cocktail than a spa service, so I asked, "Do you drink the whiskey, or wash your feet with it?"

A little of both, I was told.

Spa Evangeline, at Tampa's Epicurean Hotel, has an assortment of treatments designed for men. But once I got to the counter, I started to have second thoughts.

"What if somebody sees me here? I am an outdoors writer," I said.

Melissa Ratkovits, the spa's director, tried to calm my fears. "We have a lot of professional athletes that use our services," she said. "Baseball, football, hockey … they all come."

I tried to explain that the only strangers who have touched my legs and feet are trauma surgeons. And my feet … well, they are kind of gnarly. "I wear flip-flops to work," I said. "It's in my job description."

Sensing my nervousness, my beauty consultant, Rachael Flynn, stepped in and took control.

"Can I offer you a drink?" she asked. I looked at my watch, which read 10:09 a.m., and responded, "I usually don't start drinking whiskey until noon, but considering the circumstances, that would be great."

A little Maker's Mark in the morning is good for you from time to time, especially when somebody is about to mess with your feet.

"Just sit back and relax," Flynn said. "You're not ticklish now, are you?"

The Bern's Bourbon on the Rocks Foot Treatment is the spa's signature warm stone pedicure. It starts off with a spiked molten bourbon scrub followed by a Clarisonic foot-smoothing ritual. Then my nails were "groomed," which was an entirely foreign experience for me.

"What are you going to do with those electrical pliers?" I asked.

"They are not electrical pliers," Flynn responded. "They are cuticle scissors."

"What's a cuticle?" I asked, not really looking for an answer, because by now, the bourbon had kicked in, and all I really wanted was a nap. Then she "buffed" my toenails and gave my feet a warm agave nectar stone massage that was so enjoyable I felt guilty.

"How are you doing?" she asked.

"Great," I said. "My feet have never been treated so nice. They are going to get spoiled."

After 50 minutes of favoring my feet, it was time for the Back to Nature Face & Back Treatment, which, I had to admit, was badly needed. I don't spend much time on my personal appearance (I know, it's obvious) but I try to use sunscreen and shower daily if I can.

To me "back to nature" means taking a dip in the Gulf of Mexico, not getting rubbed down with something I might find under my wife's bathroom sink. But as Flynn explained, this deep-cleansing treatment was designed for men. She promised I would not leave smelling like a girl — not that there is anything wrong with that — but any hunter or angler worth their salt will tell you that an unnatural scent is a surefire way to scare away prey.

Deep down I knew that after 50 years of hard living my face, neck and back were probably in dire need of detoxification. The treatment also involved "exfoliating," which is a fancy way to describe scraping dead skin off your body. Supposedly it improves "overall skin texture and appearance," but the latter might be stretching it.

Flynn explained everything she did each step of the way, but to be honest, with the soft music and low lights, I really didn't pay attention. I was just glad that for once I wasn't cold, wet and tired, stuck on a sandbar somewhere, waiting for high tide.

"You still awake?" she asked.

"I think so," I said.

It took a few seconds for me to respond, because I had to think about it. I'm still not sure if the whole thing was real, or just a really sweet dream.

Contact Terry Tomalin at [email protected]

If you go

Spa Evangeline

The spa is at the Epicurean Hotel, 1203 S Howard Ave., Tampa. The 50-minute Bern's Bourbon on the Rocks Treatment costs $70. The 80-minute Back to Nature Face & Back Treatment costs $185. For more information, visit or call (813) 999-8742. Other bay area spas that have treatments geared toward men include Safety Harbor Spa; Tranquility Wellness Spa, with locations in St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park; and Glow Couture Day Spa in Tampa. Many spas offer gift certificates, which might come in handy if you're still looking for a Father's Day gift.

Spa treatments for men? Make his a Bern's Bourbon on the Rocks 06/11/15 [Last modified: Thursday, June 11, 2015 5:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Former Jabil executive's fate in hands of murder trial jury


    LARGO — For a second time, Patrick Evans' future is in the hands of a jury.

    Patrick Evans talks with Allison Miller, one of his three public defenders, before jury selection this w eek. Evans, a former Jabil executive charged with killing his estranged wife and her friend almost 10 years ago, is back in court for a second trial after his original death sentence conviction was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
  2. Hillsborough designates $17 million for Irma debris removal and repairs


    TAMPA — The Hillsborough County Commission voted Wednesday to spend $17 million from the county's Catastrophic Disaster Recovery Fund to remove debris left by Hurricane Irma and to fix damaged facilities.

  3. Five jump from burning boat near Gandy Bridge


    TAMPA — Five people jumped from a boat that caught fire near the Gandy Bridge Wednesday afternoon, 10News WTSP reported.

  4. Gourmet food fight between top chefs raises $200,000


    ST. PETERSBURG — The chefs came armed with their secret ingredients — pork rinds, truffle butter, pork bellies.

    (From left to right) Chefs Ryan Mitchell, Michael Buttacavoli, Ted Dorsey and Matthew Brennan compete during Tampa Bay Food Fight at The Coliseum in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. The event features chefs from the Tampa Bay area and benefitted Metropolitan Ministries. EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times
  5. HSN star Joy Mangano promotes new book: Inventing Joy


    ST. PETERSBURG — After more than 30 years, Joy Mangano knows a thing or two about promoting products. Now she's promoting herself.

    Inventor and entrepreneur Joy Mangano is releasing her first new book, Inventing Joy on Nov. 7. [TIERRA SMITH | Times]