12 February 2016

ST. PETE BEACH, FL: Winter Beach Escape to Hotel Zamora

TravelingJules escapes the winter snow on a warm weather getaway to Florida's St. Pete Beach. ***SUBSCRIBE to TRAVELINGJULES*** ...

I close my eyes and hear the waves

crash into the shore. I feel the sun kiss my skin and the sand beneath my toes. It's just me and the beach and not a care in the world. Reality check, I'm 2,000 miles from the beach and I've got a whole lot more things to do than can possibly be done in a day. (sighing) With deadlines stacking up and tax season around the corner it doesn't help that the weather outside is frightful. With a high below freezing, I need out. And well as one thing leads to another, I find myself distracted by the possibilities of a warm weather vacay. What the hell, sunny Florida here I come! I mean you only live once right? So from snow country I head to Florida's west coast to find sunshine in St. Pete Beach. Just a block from the beach, my chic hotel awaits me with open arms. Hotel Zamora is the first new hotel to be built in the area in decades. This sleek boutique is full of Mediterranean flair and sophisticated comfort. Home to Castile Restaurant, I know I'm gonna eat well. I start with brunch on the veranda and then I tour the pool and hot tub and find a pretty snazzy surprise upstairs. The rooftop 360 boasts a bar and lounge with views of the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal Waterway. Winter is officially on pause. As for my room, stylish and spacious,

this is a comfy place to rest my head. (laughing) I luck out with a private balcony and score some amazing views of the area. Not a bad jumping off point for the adventures ahead. Just off the hotel dock it's time to make a splash. I set sail upon a stand up paddle board to explore a private lagoon. What fun to be outdoors and soak up the sunshine while doing something sporty. Whether balancing on a stand up paddle board or exploring by kayak, being on the water is a neat way to tour the neighborhood and make a few friends. Surrounded by St. Pete Beach residents I can't help but feel like a local. Hey buddy! (dog barking) Oh he hates me. Paddle, paddle, paddle, paddle. No need to get in a fight. I put the pedal to the metal and find safety in numbers. When I catch up with my island action sports guide he says it's time to take it up a notch. Little did I know, he meant it's time to learn some tricks. Guess I'm up for a challenge. (upbeat instrumental music) It's my turn to stand on my head and make some headstand magic. I mean how hard could it be? (laughing)

Running man, that's a trick right? I gather my strength and focus at the task at hand. It's just a simple headstand, on a floating yoga mat. (upbeat instrumental music) Refusing to give up, I got it! Almost. Later that day I depart Hotel Zamora on another grand water adventure. This time on a cruise in search of dolphins. We toast and make our way to the Gulf of Mexico and enjoy the scenery and beautiful mansions along the way. We help our guides search for our little marine friends but no dolphins. We have no choice but to turn it up a notch to find new water. You can't force nature. We blast through the waves to our next spot and still no dolphins. Just before we run out of hope we find them! Oh my gosh, it's a baby! Never give up, never give up. And the dolphins are just as playful as I imagined. We thank our lucky stars for our wildlife sighting and our eyes are treated to a fiery sunset in Florida's very own sunset capital. In the morning I wake up with the sun ready for highs in the 70s and some of that year round sunshine Florida is famous for. While the locals might think it's a bit chilly these winter temps don't phase me for a moment.

But before I slip into my bikini I put in some time at the office, but I can't ignore the adventures just outside my window. Another day of rest and relaxation. It's not something I'm good at, but I'm gonna try to give it my very best shot. So long emails, hello holiday fun! (upbeat music) What's not to love about a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar? Thanks to the chef I start with house-made Bloody Mary mix and an assortment of savory add-ins. Oysters, quijote chorizo, gulf shrimp, bring it on! (upbeat music) Ready to hit the beach, it's time to experience what this area is most famous for, pristine sandy beaches. I order a lounge chair, lather up, and begin to power down. At first it feels a bit boring to sit still but in order to be our best selves we all need a little downtime sometimes. (screaming) (laughing) That way we can recharge our batteries and go, go, go again. The next thing I know I'm pedaling down Central Avenue aboard a bicycle with 16 seats. With our feet on the pedals and a drink in hand (shouting) we power our Pedal Pub through downtown St. Petersburg. Oh the places you'll go. There's all kinds of cool little things through here. This is St. Pete and Tampa in all one mural. Oh, interesting. My favorite, I love that great white shark.

Now this is the way to see a shark in Florida. After seeing some urban art we tap into St. Pete's budding beer scene. The St. Pete Clearwater area has 14 craft breweries and brew pubs, way more than you could see in one go. But we do our part. (laughing) (screaming) (clattering) We pedal into the night and the party does not stop, complete with a disco ball to light our way. We dance and sing and enjoy our beverages al fresco. (upbeat instrumental music) (shouting) Downtown St. Pete did not disappoint but I sure hope someone else will pedal me home. Back at Hotel Zamora I spend the evening at the hotel bar learning how to make house-made sangria. So for a gallon we use a cup. Meantime our chef's making some magic in the kitchen whipping up a giant batch of seafood paella. What a beautiful way to top off my winter escape to St. Pete. I promise to return home a bit less restless and ready to tackle my long list of things to do. (upbeat instrumental music)