Late last month, the Salamander Resort & Spa opened its doors in Middleburg, Virginia, just 35 minutes from Washington, DC. The plush resort sits in the charming town complete with historic attractions, quaint shops, and many examples of historic preservation. But what you might not see right away is the property's ties to Hollywood. Its owner, Sheila Johnson, was the producer of the, also recently released, The Butler starring Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, and John Cusack.
A member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts Group, this 168-room property is a love letter to nature. Included on the 340-acre property are horse stables: Jackie Kennedy, in fact, spent many summers riding at the full-service equestrian center which, even today, includes polo and jumping. Two hundred of the resort's acres have been set aside into a conservation easement. A treetop canopy tour provides an overview (literally) of the property.
Johnson has lived nearby for a decade and has a deep affection for the region. Each guestroom floor is dedicated to a season with photography taken by Johnson fitting its theme. The rooms were imagined by designer Thomas Pheasant and each boasts a canopy bed, 10-foot ceiling, dining-room table, writing desk, corner sofa, marble shower with body jets, soaking tub, and 40-inch flat television. Some of the rooms have perks like a fireplace and a balcony or terrace. In the 2,000-square-foot Owner's Suite are antiques and artwork from Johnson's private collection. When guests arrive they are thrust into the Living Room, which has two fireplaces, welcoming conversation areas, and oak-planked flooring, with a stone terrace and expansive lawn beyond.
Wine and food lovers staying at Salamander Resort are perfectly positioned near 50-some wineries. Back at the resort, chef Todd Gray can pack picnic baskets to accompany tasting-room treks. And at The Gold Cup Wine Bar, flights of wine are paired with a small-plates menu where each dish is inspired by Italy's Piedmont region. For diners who want to probe deeper, daily culinary classes in the Cooking Studio are hosted by visiting chefs.
Fourteen treatment rooms at the spa promise to pamper with private terraces and fireplaces, along with lavish showers, whirlpools, steam rooms, and heated stone loungers. Setting the spa apart is a Rhassoul wet treatment that detoxifies the skin using clay. A relaxing courtyard has an infinity pool, fire pit, private cabanas, and a café. In the sunny fitness center are classes in yoga and tai chi; guests can also enjoy an indoor pool, cardio, and weight room.
Rates at the luxury resort start at $275 per night (during non-peak season). During peak season nightly room rates start at $425.
Kristine Hansen is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee where she reports on food, wine, and travel topics around the globe for Fodors.com, along with new-hotel openings. She also writes for Wine Enthusiast, TIME, Whole Living and American Way. In 2006 she co-authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Coffee and Tea (Alpha Books/Penguin). You can follow her on Twitter @kristineahansen or through her web site.
Photo credits: Courtesy of Salamander Resort & Spa