On Valentine’s Day weekend, the historic Essex Inn in Tappahannock, Virginia, opened its rooms for Freedom Alliance to fill with military couples in need of some together-time. Last month was the third go-round for our annual Essex Inn romantic retreat, and we created a Valentine to remember for four servicemen and their ladies.
Innkeepers Ric and Jeremy don’t hold back when it comes to service, and it’s their attention and hospitality that make this event so meaningful. Our guests can’t stop talking about the amazing accommodations and meals.
We invited two active-duty Marines, Shawn and Dane, whose unit had only returned from an overseas deployment a few weeks prior. Shawn’s wife, Kat, and Dane’s wife, Felicia, were happy to spend a special weekend with the men they had only recently welcomed back home.
Derek and Laura were also our special guests. Derek is a veteran who spent six years in the Marine Corps Special Operations Command, which included four combat deployments. Today he is the founder of Tailored Quest in Charlottesville, Virginia, which provides handcrafted suits and tailoring for men.
We also welcomed Isaac and his wife, Brittany. Isaac is recovering from a brain injury and combat stress since serving in Afghanistan as part of a Marine Corps shock trauma unit. He sometimes performed triage and often searched the wounded for weapons or explosives before they were treated.
What a pleasure to host these love-birds for the weekend!
The couples arrived at the Essex Inn on Friday, each to a room appointed with roses, chocolates, and scented oils from Lisa Hoffman.
Local massage therapist, Holly Bryant, treated the guests to in-room massages on Saturday.
That night, Ric prepared a Valentine meal, featuring New York strip and crabmeat, with a 17-layer chocolate cake for dessert. After dinner, guests gathered around an outdoor fire for cocktails and cigars.
Sunday morning began with a gourmet breakfast and a couples’ photography session. Freedom Alliance is providing keepsake prints, while Ric and Jeremy have offered each couple a complimentary return stay at the inn.
Derek to us, “Thank you very much for the unforgettable weekend! We will definitely be returning in the future.”
Isaac and Brittany sent many thanks as well. “We feel so privileged,” Isaac exclaimed.
Felicia told us how much she and Dane needed the getaway. During this last deployment, his foot was injured in an explosion, and medical treatment has taken up a lot of their time.
“By the end of the weekend [it] felt like we were leaving family,” she said. “Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything you and your organization do for those of us in the military community!”
Shawn also wrote Freedom Alliance:
“Kat and I have been through three back-to-back deployments together, and I think this is the first time since we’ve been together that we have truly been afforded the opportunity to completely relax without a care in the world.”
(As a continuation of the Valentines celebrations, Freedom Alliance also arranged a spa day for two spouses of Navy Corpsman, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.)