Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Industry Briefs
Salamander Resort & Spa Stages First Event

Resort Owner Sheila C. Johnson Joined by Virginia Governor Bob Mcdonnell and First Lady Maureen Mcdonnell at Reception to Mark 13 Months Until Opening of the Eagerly Anticipated, Luxurious 168-Room Resort

Amid soaring ceilings, red carpet and freshly framed out spaces, Sheila C. Johnson recently marked roughly one year until the opening of the luxurious Salamander Resort & Spa in the storied village of Middleburg, VA. Together with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and First Lady Maureen McDonnell, Johnson co-hosted a reception – in the resort’s octagonal-shaped restaurant – to celebrate the participating Northern Virginia wineries and farmers of the First Lady’s FLITE (First Lady’s Initiative Team Effort) program.

The 168-room resort, already 65 percent complete, is scheduled to open in August 2013 and is the only luxury resort in America opening next year. It is also the first major destination resort to be built in Virginia in many years.

“In a little over a year, my dream will become a reality,” said Resort Owner Johnson, who is also CEO and founder of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, the hotel company overseeing the design, development and management of the resort. “This promises to be one of the finest resorts in America, and we are committed to serving and promoting Virginia’s bountiful vineyards and farms.”

The event featured eight wineries from Loudoun, Fauquier and Fairfax counties and was attended by 200 area dignitaries, VIPs and wine enthusiasts. “Salamander Resort & Spa promises to be one of the country’s great resorts and a huge asset to Virginia,” said Governor McDonnell. “Sheila Johnson is a true entrepreneur and her vision is one of excellence.”

Set on 340 acres amid Virginia’s famed horse country and lush vineyards, yet only a 30-minute drive from Washington, D.C.’s Dulles International Airport and an hour from the nation’s capital, the resort has a stated goal of achieving the Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond ratings.

Designed to blend into its natural environment and replicate the architectural traditions of Virginia’s countryside, Salamander Resort & Spa features luxurious rooms and suites inspired by renowned designer Thomas Pheasant, a 23,000-sq. ft. lavish spa and unique “treehouse” treatment rooms, a full-service equestrian center with a 22-stall stable and practice ring, Virginia Piedmont-inspired dining overseen by James Beard-nominated Chef Todd Gray, a dedicated cooking studio, wine bar and culinary garden. The resort is positioned at the center of Northern Virginia’s emerging wine country – with over 50 wineries located within a 60-minute drive.

The resort features 12,000 sq. ft. of conference and event facilities, including a 5,000-sq. ft. grand ballroom and a restored 100-year-old Stallion Barn. Already registered for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, the Salamander Resort & Spa sales team is now accepting group bookings.

Johnson founded Salamander Hotels & Resorts, which operates six other resorts in Florida, South Carolina and the Dominican Republic, in 2005, when she brought on respected hospitality executive Prem Devadas as the company’s president. She also has ownership in three professional sports teams: the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and the NHL’s Washington Capitals. She is also well known as the co-founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET).

Rates during peak season at Salamander Resort & Spa range from $425 to $575 per night for a deluxe 540-sq. ft. guest room, depending on views and unique features such as working fireplaces. Suite pricing ranges from $775 to $3,500 per night. Special group rates and packages for individual travelers are also available. For more information about the resort, visit, e-mail or call (866) 938-7370. For group sales, call (540) 687-3710.