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Saddle up! Entertainment mogul Sheila Johnson opens sumptuous new riding resort on 340 acres of Virginia wine country

"Jody Collocott" (2020-05-03)


Saddle up! Entertainment mogul Sheila Johnson opens sumptuous new riding resort on 340 acres of Virginia wine country
By Snejana Farberov

Published: 19:02 BST, 24 August 2013 | Updated: 13:50 BST, 25 August 2013














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Come next week, Washington DC's moneyed elites and power brokers with a taste for equestrian sports will have a new over-the-top vacation destination. 

Millionairess and founder of Black Entertainment Television Sheila Johnson will open the doors of her high-end Salamander Resort and Spa in the historic village of Middleburg, Virginia, next Thursday. 

The posh 340-acre property nestled in the heart of Virginia movers's lush horse and wine country an hour away from the capital features 168 well-appointed rooms and suites, a 23,000-square-foot spa and a full-service equestrian center.




Playground for the rich: Millionairess and founder of Black Entertainment Television Sheila Johnson will open the doors of her high-end Salamander Resort and Spa in the historic village of Middleburg, Virginia







Bucolic: The posh 340-acre property nestled in the heart of Virginia's horse and wine country an hour away from the capital







Giddy up: A short distance from the resort are miles of trails where riders can bring their own horses




Gourmets also will enjoy fine dining courtesy of chef Todd Gray, of the famed Equinox Restaurant in Washington, DC.

Salamander was built on the former estate of Pamela Harriman, a glamorous English-born socialite and one-time daughter-in-law of Winston Churchill, who was described by one of her numerous lovers as ‘the greatest courtesan of the century.'

Harriman, who was later appointed as a US ambassador to France, was not the only member of Washington's upper crust to be drawn to the bucolic Virginia countryside.

The Kennedys had a vacation home in Middleburg, and Jackie Kennedy used to ride horses on the land on which Salamander Resort sits.





Lap of luxury: Guests willing to spend between $350 and $425 for a night's stay at the resort will be lodged in 168 sleek rooms boasting 10-foot ceilings, a canopy bed and a 40-inch flat-screen TV







Soaking it in: The rooms and suites come with a pedestal soaking tub and marble finishes

The ‘green' resort, among the first in the nation to be awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certificate, is the brainchild of Miss Johnson - the first African-American woman to be an owner or partner in three professional sports franchises: NHL's Washington Capitals, NBA's Washington Wizards and WNBA's Washington Mystics.

Forbes reported that Johnson, 64, has a personal net worth of $400million. Most recently, she acted as a producer on the newly released film The Butler starring Oprah Winfrey.  

In 2005, Johnson founded Salamander Hotels & Resorts to manage the development of the luxury retreat.

Envisioned as a playground for the rich, Salamander offers all the trappings of luxury, from well-appointed guestrooms to fine dining options, a full-service riding center and a high-end spa.










Entertainment mogul: Johnson (left), who has a personal net worth of $400million, recently acted as a producer on the new film The Butler (right)








Famed resident: Salamander sits on the former estate of Pamela Harriman, a socialite and US ambassador to France, who was once described as the greatest courtesan of the 20th century







Camelot years: First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy holds her son John F. Kennedy Jr as they ride horses with daughter Caroline Kennedy at the Kennedy estate in Middleburg, Virginia, November 19, 1962




The resort's spacious living room comes with a pair of imposing fireplaces, distressed oak flooring and a large stone terrace overlooking the great lawn.

‘From the moment I stepped foot on this serene land 10 years ago, I fell in love with it and envisaged creating an iconic retreat,' Ms Johnson said in a press release.

Guests willing to spend between $350 and $425 for a night's stay at the lavish resort will be lodged in 168 sleek rooms boasting 10-foot ceilings; a canopy bed; a 40-inch flat-screen TV; and a pedestal soaking tub, among other special touches.

Each of the four floors of the hotel is themed by season: summer, spring, winter and fall, and the guestrooms and guest hallways feature photography taken by Johnson reflecting the corresponding time of the year.





Making a splash: The property features several pools, including a whirlpool and an infinity pool







Equine paradise: The hotel boasts a 22-stall stable and a full-service riding center







Al fresco: Guests have the option to enjoy gourmet meals on the terrace under a pergola













Salamander's equestrian center offers horse lovers riding lessons, jumping and polo









Fine dining: Gourmets also will enjoy fine dining courtesy of chef Todd Gray, of the famed Equinox Restaurant




Salamander comes with a full-service equestrian center offering horse lovers riding lessons, jumping and polo.

Just a short distance from the property's 22-stall stable and riding ring are miles of trails where riders can bring their own horses.

Those not interested in riding can head over to the spa featuring 14 treatment rooms, whirlpools, steam rooms, heated stone loungers and experiential showers.

In the courtyard, weary Washington movers and shakers can relax in an infinity pool or whirlpool. The space also features private cabanas, a fire pit and a café.





Small-town charm: Patrons of the resort are minutes away from the historic village of Middleburg




Exercise fanatics will not feel out of place at the resort, which offers a top-of-the-line fitness facility with an indoor pool, cardio and weight room and movement studios for yoga, tai chi and other classes.

Lovers of the great outdoors are welcome to take a treetop canopy tour or try their hand at falconry, while history buffs could visit nearby Civil War battlefields, George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate, or Thomas Jefferson's Monticello plantation.