In Tampa, Arianna Huffington erects an ‘oasis’ of free food and massages, with no Diet Coke

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Last week, digital-media guru Jeff Jarvis wrote a post challenging reporters to explain why they were attending the conventions.

Here is one answer: Free lunch and massages.

The Huffington Post is running the the HuffPo Spa again around the corner from the convention center and just outside the very large perimeter that you must obtain credentials to cross.   

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When Arianna Huffington first debuted the Oasis in Denver in 2008 it was a smaller affair that weirdly jibed with the Woodstock-like atmosphere of Denver during the Democratic convention. Now it's an extravaganza

In 2008 they offered healthy snacks, a few yoga mats and some massage chairs. Now the entire ground floor of the spa is lit with a relaxing blue light, waitresses in white shirts stroll around the white-carpeted foyer waiting to take your order (each meal, provided by Lyfe kitchen, is fewer than 500 calories) while you lounge on the white sofas.  

All the food and drink and spa services are free here.  It's not an easy place to leave.  Also, Michael Steele is holding court near the 'spa checkout' door. 

On the patio white curtains draped around the outside bar billow wildly in the hurricane winds.  There is no Diet Coke here, I am gently informed by the woman who comes to take my order.  But there is a bowl of free 'Mint Romney' body lotion samples from Bliss Spa.

Upstairs there is a yoga studio, a massage room and a place where you can have your make-up refreshed. 

 

If you need a measure of how little the conventions have come to do with politics and how much they have to do with extravagant politicking—mostly between the media and the people who fill their airwaves—look no further.   

Late last night a young RNC aide checking credentials at the perimeter entrance on the South Harbour Island bridge informed us in a reassuring tone that the perimeter had been increased this year to the extent that "you couldn't even hear the protesters."  Certainly snuggled here in the zen, blu-light calmness of the oasis you'd be hard pressed to remember there was even anything in life to protest.