August 29, 2013—After more than a decade in the works, Salamander Resort & Spa finally opened its doors today as hundreds of locals, government officials, dignitaries and members of the press clamored to get a look inside Sheila Johnson’s long-awaited endeavor.
“No more hard hats, no more steel-toed shoes,” Johnson declared to her guests. “Today, we go from vision to reality.” The entrepreneur, who co-founded Black Entertainment Television, produced the film The Butler and is part-owner of the Washington Capitals, Wizards and Mystics, explained how she moved to Middelburg and “fell in love with its charm and natural beauty.”
After she purchased 340 acres of rolling countryside, Johnson’s dream to open a resort there began to take shape. “I had a vision of creating a unique destination resort that would be remarkable, rare and true to Middleburg,” she said. “I want people to feel at home the minute they cross the threshold…and when they leave they should be truly replenished and uplifted in body, spirit and mind.”
Inspired by Johnson’s nearby farm, the 168-room, LEED-certified resort was designed to reflect the Virginia vernacular. Located in the heart of Loudoun County’s Horse Country, it’s only fitting that it is home to an equestrian center with miles of trails to explore. Its tranquil, full-service spa pampers guests with an array of treatments; its locker rooms feature soothing whirlpools, aromatic steam rooms, stone Tepidarium chairs and experiential showers.
Culinary director Todd Gray of DC’s Equinox restaurant oversees the resort’s dining options, which include Harriman’s Grill and the Gold Cup Wine Bar. A spacious cooking studio facing the open chef’s kitchen will host daily cooking classes. A two-acre culinary garden supplies many of the kitchen’s herbs and vegetables.
The resort’s design architect is WATG of Irvine, California, while the architect of record is Architecture Inc., of Reston, Virginia. DC interior designer Thomas Pheasant provided conceptual inspiration; Kent Interior Design of Atlanta completed the interiors. And the landscape architect is Don Hoover of Oculus in DC. Rates start at $425 per night in September and October. salamanderresort.com —Sharon Jaffe Dan