With the opening date finally set for August 2013 and the Town of Middleburg preparing to be a focal point of Loudoun’s hospitality industry, Salamander Hotels and Resorts Owner Sheila Johnson and President Prem Devadas took citizens on a tour of the soon to be new state-of-the-art resort June 20.
Sheila Johnson is the founder and owner of Salamander Hotels and Resorts, which operates resorts in Florida, South Carolina and the Dominican Republic.
She is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who has conquered the arenas of hospitality, sports, fashion, TV and film, the arts, education, women’s empowerment and community development.
In addition to owning Salamander Hotels and Resorts, Johnson is part owner of the NBA’s Washington Wizards, WNBA’s Washington Mystics and NHL’s Washington Capitals. She is also the co-founder of Black Entertainment Television.
Her masterful planning is going to be evident throughout the luxurious resort and spa once it is completed.
The design of the 168-room resort was intended to replicate a grand home built 100 years ago.
The resort will contain a lavish 23,000 square foot spa, a full-service equestrian center with a 22-stall stable and also a Jack Nicklaus golf experience at Creighton Farms.
It will also contain 12,000-square- feet of conference space and a 5,000- square foot grand ballroom.
Total relaxation in the lobby
The lobby of the resort won’t resemble that of normal hotels.
Approaching the main entrance, the driveway gives off the feeling of being in the open country, but yet the 340-acre site sits just north of town with plenty of restaurants and shops available for visitors.
Salamander Resort President Prem Devadas noted that the location will benefit patrons wishing to shop.
“Although it is very secluded and private, you can walk into the Town of Middleburg in less than 10 minutes and bike or be transported down there in a matter of minutes,” Devadas said. “That is a very powerful statement in the resort world because they don’t exist around. I think when planning for the resort, we kind of planned it that way because we didn’t plan for retail in the resort as you normally would.
“Instead we are really directing people to the authentic experiences we have there in the town,” Devadas said.
Once walking through the main entrance, guests will be greeted with a unique approach.
“Everything about this resort and the materials used to build are intended to make guests feel like it has been here for a long time. You are not going to see a lot of shiny new finishes,” Devadas said. “The flooring will be flagstone and wide-plank wood flooring. The lobby will open up into a grand living room accompanied by the grand views of the lawn and terrace.”
A view of the oldest structure on the property, known as the Old Stallion Barn, can also be seen. The barn is in the process of being converted into a private dining room for small parties, Devadas said.
The living room will have two fireplaces, with seating surrounding each. Two double doors will lead to a cozy library.
Both rooms were inspired by Johnson’s farm and home.
Bars, restaurants, billiards and institutes
A wine bar will be available in the lobby to not only guests, but anyone interested in enjoying a glass of Loudoun’s finest wines.
“Instead of doing the typical five-star bar you see in hotels, we have designed our bar to resemble a wine-tasting room as our bar,” Devadas said. “Wines will be available from Virginia as well as from around the world. On one of the walls we will have a map that outlines Loudoun County’s wine country.”
Devadas and Johnson hope the wine bar will be the focal point of Virginia’s wine country.
An extension of the bar will be the billiards room with ample space for a billiard table, televisions and a seating area.
The total number of seats available in the combination area will be 60. It will also serve as a dining experience in addition to the restaurant.
One of the most unique amenities in modern hospitality will also be present at the resort – a Culinary Teaching Institute for guests to enjoy.
The idea has been one of Johnson’s dreams.
“We want to invite some of the top chefs from all over the country to come and hold cooking classes complete with a teaching kitchen,” Johnson said. “We are also wiring them for television so guests who take the classes can take a tape home to remember what they cooked during their classes. That also gives us the opportunity to potential get on to the Food Network eventually.
“It can be for leisure guests or corporate team building opportunities,” Johnson said.
The Institute will also have a culinary garden on the grounds, where the cooking classes will begin by picking their own vegetables and food.
The restaurant will feature both indoor and outdoor dining areas. Its design is from a 100-year-old restored barn.
Johnson’s new Spa
Over the past 15 years, Johnson has been gathering information as she has traveled to various spas around the country. The result of her findings will rest with the Spa at Salamander.
“I want Salamander Spa to be incredibly different from the treatment rooms to the specialty rooms to the relaxation rooms. We are going to do something different with this,” Johnson said. “It is not just about beauty and massages and getting your hair done. I have been talking to doctors to really be able to bring treatments here that are really going to be powerfully unique and help the body.
“The idea I have is to partner with Inova Health Systems to really talk about the medical benefits of massage and bring those treatments to you,” Johnson said.
There will be a men’s side and a women’s side as well as a pool area outdoors in the courtyard and an indoor pool for water aerobics. An extensive fitness area is also available for guests.
According to Johnson and Devadas, they have formed a partnership with former Washington Redskin Darrell Green, who will serve as the face of their fitness programs.
Also as part of the spa are two “tree house” treatment rooms available for guests with scenic views of the surrounding woods and streams.
Users of the spa will enjoy deluxe locker rooms with whirlpools and experimental water features.
There will be 14 deluxe treatment rooms with either private outdoor treatment terraces.
“I think the more I am able to use this place as a educational tool for everyone, we will be able to improve our overall health,” Johnson said. “This will be your path to wellness.”
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