Stressed? Try a ‘wellness weekend’ at the Don CeSar hotel

Two upcoming events will feature workshops with psychologists and life coaches for families and adults seeking rejuvenation.
The Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete Beach will soon offer "wellness weekends" for guests seeking an escape from the stressors of 2020.
The Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete Beach will soon offer "wellness weekends" for guests seeking an escape from the stressors of 2020. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]
Published Nov. 25, 2020

ST. PETE BEACH — The historic Don CeSar hotel has come up with a unique way to help visitors cope with the stress they’re feeling from 2020.

The “Pink Palace”, located on the Gulf of Mexico in St. Pete Beach, will host two “wellness weekend” events — one for families with children next month and another for adults in January. For an all-inclusive price, guests will get a room at the hotel and be able to participate in workshops with two certified psychologists and life coaches.

The medical professionals, from Morningstar Wellness in Tampa, will hold group and one-on-one discussions, where attendees can talk about their frustrations and learn strategies for handling everyday stress. They’ll help guests design a plan of action for when they go home, according to the hotel.

“We’re trying to do something for the community that will engage them in a way that is a little more meaningful in a time when people are looking for rejuvenation,” said Todd Gehrke, director of sales and marketing for the Don CeSar. He said he came up with the idea for the wellness weekends after talking with his wife and children about how they’re feeling and the support they need.

One of the mental health professionals is Lindsey O’Brennan, the 37-year-old owner of Morningstar, a private practice that opened in 2018 and provides counseling to children, teens and adults struggling with anxiety, depression, stress and other mental health concerns.

She said business has doubled this year due to the pandemic, and she’s expanded her hours and team to accommodate the growing number of patients seeking help. Existing patients’ conditions have worsened, she said, and more are reporting feelings of loneliness and lack of motivation, as well as physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches and near-constant fatigue.

“Initially, there was shock and fear regarding the virus, and then it turned into confusion and angst about schools and businesses opening up,” O’Brennan said. “Now I can tell people are eager for it to end and ‘normal’ life to resume.”

O’Brennan said her goal with the wellness workshops is to give attendees a sense of hope and connection. People should know they aren’t alone in their feelings of sadness and frustration, she said.

The events will bring the Don CeSar back to its roots, Gehrke said, pointing out that founder Thomas Rowe’s initial vision for the hotel was relaxation and serenity when it opened in 1929. In fact, “Come all ye who seek health and rest for here, they are abundant,” is etched in concrete above the main entrance.

“It’s wonderful to be able to kind of go back to the core of who we are and why this place is here,” Gehrke said. “You can come and take advantage of the beach, enjoy the sunshine and run and play with your family — and leave with a bit more sense of direction.”

If you go:

- The two-day wellness weekend for families is Dec. 19-20. Children ages 12 to 18 are welcome. Pricepoints start at $329 per night plus taxes and fees with a two-night minimum.

Keep up with Tampa Bay’s top headlines

Keep up with Tampa Bay’s top headlines

Subscribe to our free DayStarter newsletter

We’ll deliver the latest news and information you need to know every weekday morning.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

- The one-day event for adults only is Jan. 3. Costs start at $354 per night plus taxes and fees.

Find more information about the the events at

• • •

Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage

HOW CORONAVIRUS IS SPREADING IN FLORIDA: Find the latest numbers for your county, city or zip code.

FACE MASKS: Read the latest on guidelines, tips for comfort and long-term wear

GET THE DAYSTARTER MORNING UPDATE: Sign up to receive the most up-to-date information.

THE CORONAVIRUS SCRAPBOOK: We collected your stories, pictures, songs, recipes, journals and more to show what life has been like during the pandemic.

A TRIBUTE TO THE FLORIDIANS TAKEN BY THE CORONAVIRUS: They were parents and retirees, police officer and doctors, imperfect but loved deeply.

HAVE A TIP?: Send us confidential news tips

We’re working hard to bring you the latest news on the coronavirus in Florida. This effort takes a lot of resources to gather and update. If you haven’t already subscribed, please consider buying a print or digital subscription.