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The house that Johnson built

Middleburg, Salamander Resorts, Sheila JohnsonTimes-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny Sheila Johnson smiles at her husband during speeches for the grand opening of the Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg.
Many have waited for Aug. 29 for more than 10 years.

Standing just in front of the “house she built” as she stepped to the podium to officially open the Salamander Resort and Spa in Middleburg, founder and CEO Sheila Johnson was feeling a wide range of emotions.

Fighting tears of joy, Johnson thanked Middleburg's Mayor Betsy Davis and the rest of the Town Council for its unwavering support of the project.

“Standing before you I am excited. I am overwhelmed. There is joy and I have so many other emotions going through me right now,” Johnson said. “But most of all I feel pride in looking at what we have accomplished.

“We did it,” Johnson said emphatically.

A vision of Johnson since she purchased the plush 340 acres just north of historic downtown Middleburg, the resort features 168 guest rooms including 17 suites on four floors inspired by designer Thomas Pheasant. Each floor is reminiscent of a different season of the year.

Johnson's inspiration for the design of the resort was based on providing a feeling of home rather than a hotel.

The crown jewel of the resort is the 23,000-square-foot spa, designed by Johnson herself. No expense or treatment was spared.

Salamander Resort and Spa figures to be a major destination for families, business or couples.

With three ballrooms and two small executive boardrooms, corporate events figure to be a popular use for the resort.

According to Johnson, the Salamander Resort and Spa already has 31 corporate bookings for the month of September.

With many friends, family and colleagues in the audience, Johnson recalled the reason she built Salamander.

“As I looked out in the audience today, there were so many people out there, some were my naysayers, some were always on my side and still others that were on the fence, but they came here today to see what I had built,” Johnson said. “Seeing the smiles on their faces, and to know that we have done this and this place is really a gift to the Town of Middleburg. That is what is so important.”

Johnson added she is working with retail businesses in the town to emphasize their products. She has already laid the groundwork and is finalizing plans for the Middleburg Film Festival, which figures to draw a little different crowd to Middleburg.

“We are really looking to boost business for stores in Middleburg and we are working very closely with retailers to supply footage on a loop to circulate them on our TVs in the room and throughout the resort,” Johnson said. “The Middleburg Film Festival is also going to bring a great deal of traffic in here for the retailers and bringing Hollywood in here will bring a lot of excitement and buzz.”

For past coverage, see: Luxury in the making

Salamander openingTimes-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny
Founder and CEO Sheila Johnson receives a key after signing in as the first official guest during the grand opening of the Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg.

Salamander ResortTimes-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny
Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg opened for business Aug. 29.

Tim GunnTimes-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny
Fashion designer Tim Gunn, left, known for his on-air mentorship of competitors on Project Runway, was one of the celebrities attending the grand opening of the Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg Aug. 29.


If not for all the NIMBY’s in Middleburg, this would have been done years ago.

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