An hour from the nation’s capitol is an exquisite retreat fit for the affluent of the world. The long and winding road leads to a stately resort entrance with a carriage of old on the green before the circular drive. Pull up beside the Rolls Royce, Bentleys and Beemers and your doors are opened by bellmen in riding attire. Everyone smiles and welcomes you into the grand high ceiling living room. The idea is that the resort feels like home but in an elegant fashion. It totally works! The registration counter is tucked away to the left, the Gold Cup Wine Bar to the right, the patio straight ahead and then the green, green, grass of home.
Casual resort wear is fine during the day but most will want to dress to impress when strolling through in the evening. After a cocktail on the terrace, Harriman’s restaurant has a unique gourmet menu starting with lobster ceviche that is out of this world in a blended citrus marinade. Multiple chefs team together in one gigantic kitchen with an efficient staff to deliver food for all the restaurants onsite as well as group functions and room service. They do so behind an open stainless steel counter in the Cooking Studio to provide a view for special groups, functions, and lucky us! It was by far the most incredible culinary experience we could ever imagine. Talk about dinner and a show; these are the best seats in the house with samples of this and that, courses to share – food, fun and laughter galore. It is a command performance as computer screens dictate the process on each of the lines. If the timing is slightly off, orders are barked and minutes made known. Flames are shooting and food is flying. Hands are prepping and detailing plates in double time. It is an amazing symphony of chaos that results in an exquisite dining experience for every guest partaking the creations.
The studio also has theater rows of seats and tables for cooking classes, which start by gals like Hannah serving Prosecco. Chef Chris Edwards presented “gluten free cooking.” The pizza was extraordinary but more so was his personal delivery of the end product to the stable when it was ready as some of us left early to don our gear for the riding lesson and Mindfulness Trail Ride. Danny rode Whiskey and I rode Moe as we learned open reining rather than neck reining to which we were accustomed. The trail was wet and slippery from precipitation the day before so safety plan b worked in our favor with a carriage ride behind two beautiful Percheron horses through the main streets of Middleburg, lined by sidewalk cafes and boutique shops. Onlookers snapped photos of the elite treat. Some bring their own horses; some use the stable’s fine stock. Some even participate in horseback yoga.
As Salamander guests walk to their rooms, they must pass the water feature and artwork between the curtains of the spa that mystically calls each name and beckons entry. Amenities are upscale incorporating nature inside and out, producing an instant sense of relaxation. Men’s and Ladies’ separate areas are spacious and well appointed with Jacuzzis, aromatic steam rooms and sunlit relaxation seating. Virginia is for lovers and this is exemplified by the exclusive Couples Suite experience. Advance time is given to relax with one another before treatments in a privately enclosed garden patio with outdoor Jacuzzi. Inside the suite, a large shower or sunken tub is shared and a cozy fireplace warms on cooler days, double sided from the bath area to the treatment area preparing for the dream state when the professionally trained masseuses take you into never, never, land with well being massages on side by side tables. Finish the day off by lounging at the adult infinity pool with cabana service, exclusive for spa guests. Light fare is scrumptious along with wines, juices or “juicetails” like the Zentric.
Room accommodations also feel like suites with every detail covered from the comfortable bed flanked by a sofa and round table to the desk with plentiful outlets, the bathroom with a large tub and bath crystals as well as a shower with multiple nozzles. The Keurig machine sits atop the minibar and two closets provide ample space and robes with slippers for sitting out on the balcony with a view of the gorgeous grounds, perhaps deer passing by.
Founder Dr. Sheila Johnson knows the secret to a successful hospitality venture. She has traveled the world collecting the best ideas and books that she has stacked in the library and game room of the resort. At first it was going to be a spa in the verdant hills of Virginia but wise investors advised her to consider an equestrian theme, given the area is saturated with horse properties and events. So she did and that theme is elegantly reflected in every aspect of the resort. Stroll the halls in a leisurely fashion so as not to miss any of the artwork, including Sheila’s own photography.
The concierge can set up local nature excursions or visits to 30 wineries within an hour drive. Or enjoy the exclusive opportunity to play the private Creighton Farms.
This Jack Nicklaus signature golf course is a centerpiece in the rolling hills of Virginia and everything you would expect from the Golden Bear. The stately clubhouse is impressive yet pales to some of the palatial homes along the course, all regally situated above for prime gallery viewing. At times it is hard to concentrate on the demanding layout with the commanding views of the landscape. Keurig machines cater outside the restrooms and logoed heavy-duty guest towels comfort within. Beware as Jack has tricked up the greens with convoluted angles and speedy reads. Practice will never make perfect in golf but you will have fun trying at these lovely facilities impeccably maintained like the entire grounds.
By now you should be salivating at the idea of staying at Salamander Resort and Spa, so book your visit at www.salamanderresort.com