We had a quick, but fun-filled ‘stay-cation’ in Tampa this weekend. We drove the 2 short hours from Orlando to Tampa, and although we only stayed over on Saturday night, it truly felt like a mini-vacation away from everything – a close to home stay-cation!
We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, which overlooks Tampa International Airport from the front, and the beautiful Tampa Bay to the rear. We had a nice room on the 11th floor overlooking the Bay side and pool which was wonderful, even though we weren’t in our room very much.
After checking in around 1:30pm, we explored the massive and resort-like property. This hotel has acres of well landscaped land bordering the Bay, and there is a nice nature walk on property which zags thru the trees and vegetation, offering great views of the water and wildlife.
We took the 8 minute walk over to Oyster Catchers, one of the Hyatt’s two upscale restaurants, and had a delicious and leisurely lunch overlooking the water. Dos and I had previously decided our two-week old diets, were officially on hold this weekend, although we still ate rather healthy out of diet guilt. At Oystercatchers I had four cocktail shrimp and Dos had 4 oysters on the half shell for appetizers, followed by a fresh catch of the day of Red Snapper. The meal also came with a delicious arugula salad with candied walnuts and cranberries, or Dos’s salad which was Asian citrus.
Considering my lunch used to be a burger and fries, I think we both did very well!
After lunch we took the nature trail back (although the hotel does offer a golf-cart shuttle if you prefer), and this time stopped by the large gazebo along the trail overlooking the water. We then headed over to the main Pool Bar (there is also a pool bar and a small beach area over by Oystercatchers) where I had a couple light brewskis. We sat under the shade of the bar Tiki hut and chatted with a few folks.
Many people were visiting from Chicago for the hockey game that night (Chicago Blackhawks vs Tampa Lightning). We had no idea how popular hockey was in Florida! There were also multiple weddings on-site, and we saw one group having photos taken pool-side, and others inside the hotel.
Late afternoon it was time for a nap, which was refreshing after the hot summer sun.
We had reservations for 8pm, so we had a drink at the bar area before being escorted to our window table.
The view (which was identical to our room view as it was 3 floors higher and facing the same way) was nothing short of outstanding! When we first sat down, the shades were pulled down, as to block the hot sun, although you could still see thru them somewhat.
Stephanie was our waitress, and she thoroughly explained the menu which was nice, especially concerning the entrees and antipasto bar. She wisely told us to share the antipasto bar between the two of us as there were so many choices. Shortly after we had ordered our entree and wine, our assistant waiter, Oscar, pushed a button, and the shades raised automatically offering us a beautiful sunset view over the course of our appetizers, and thru out the night as the sky darkened.
The antipasto bar was huge, and staffed by a couple servers who plated whatever you requested from the bar. We had cocktail shrimp, scallops, meatballs, mussels, clams, and assorted Italian cheeses and meats. There were at least 30 items to choose from, and our waiter Stephanie then delivered the plate to our table. Quite impressive display of food, and we shared the plate together according to our likes.
Accompanying our meal was a bottle of Italian Classico Chianti, which paired well with everything we ordered, the Asiago cheese especially!
As the sun slowly set over Tampa Bay, we had a magical view overlooking the Bay and St. Petersburg further off in the distance. We snapped a few photos with my iPhone, hoping to capture the elegance and romance of the evening. Photos don’t do the beautiful view justice, but help to frame the perspective of our wonderful meal.
We both had the Veal Tenderloin, served medium rare, which was accompanied with green and white asparagus, two grilled shrimp, Asiago cheese polenta (which I didn’t eat, but Dos did), and a side we shared of oven-roasted truffle potatoes. There was also a plate of delicious-looking bread which we both wanted to taste, but fortunately our diet-guilt prevented us from partaking.
Our two and a half hour leisurely dinner was followed by a decaf coffee for me. Neither of us ordered a dessert, although Stephanie brought us 4 mini chocolates (2 white and 2 dark) with our bill which satisfied any cravings for dessert.
We took a walk after dinner along the nature walk over to Oystercatchers for some exercise and to walk off the wonderful dinner. The nature walk is along a wooden boardwalk the whole way, which is well lit at night. We even saw a couple lizards, which you don’t normally see at night.
On our way back to the room, we stopped in the busy lobby for a nightcap, a bit of people watching, and to reminisce on our wonderful day. We both agreed to do this more often; it was such a nice experience, and not too far from home. While we have the Disney hotels and restaurants in Orlando, this had a more upscale fit to it, as the theme park areas can be too casual and with lots of non-mannered kids and their families. As I sipped on my brewski and Dos on his water, we watched a couple different wedding parties from afar having fun and taking photos of each other, post-wedding fun!
‘Twas a fun night for all!