Sheila Johnson’s Salamander Resort Opens in Middleburg

After years of work, design, discussion and delays, Salamander Resorts and Spa in Middleburg, Va., formally opened the morning of Aug. 29 with snips of golden scissors at the entrance to "Sheila Johnson's house." An hour's drive from D.C., the 168-room luxury resort sits on 340 acres and is filled with Johnson's idea of the Middleburg experience and mystique with finely detailed rooms, spas and pools, a library and club bar, cooking studio, wine bar, a stable-inspired restaurant, a stable and paddock, conference rooms, ballroom and terraces. It is the "only new luxury destination resort in the United States to open in 2013," according to Salamander Resort & Spa. Prem Devadas, president of Salamander Resorts, greeted the opening-day guests at the front entrance: "Welcome to the house that Sheila Johnson built." He thanked officials from Middleburg and Loudoun County and introduced the speakers. Middleburg Mayor Betsy Davis recalled that -- after contentious debates on the project and its approval -- Salamander founder Johnson told Middleburg officials seven years ago, "I won't let you down." Davis said that she admired Johnson's way of "paying it forward" and added, "Sheila, we will let you down." Scott York, chairman-at-large of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, crumbled up his speech and said everyone was waiting to see Salamander's interior as quickly as he praised the resort's economic benefits. (Salamander has 2,000 employees.) Rita McClenny, head of Virginia Tourism, tagged Salamander "a crown jewel" for the state and recalled that Jackie Kennedy put Middleburg on the map in a big way 50 years ago. David Gergen of CNN also touched at the history of Middleburg with its connection to the Kennedys and the Harrimans. Gergen mentioned that the resort's opening was during the week of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. Gergen said he found it "fitting that … we come to celebrate Sheila’s dream" and noted that Johnson is a co-producer of the film, "The Butler." As she thanked the many involved in the project, Johnson -- businesswoman, philanthropist and second richest black women in the U.S. -- spoke of feeling "so many emotions." "Look at what we have accomplished." When she moved to Middleburg years ago, "Middleburg was my refuge," she said. "I found friendships. I felt at home." With the vision of her resort fulfilled, she said, "There is love in every single detail." And so, with the ribbon-cutting, Salamander was open -- and guests eagerly entered "Sheila's house" to have some champagne and a very fine lunch under the supervision of chef Todd Gray. They could see and taste the love in every detail. [gallery ids="101437,153974,153956,153951,153948,153944,153976,153961,153966,153970" nav="thumbs"]

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CRYOTHERAPY: Healthful Benefits of Chilling Out

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Romantic Winter Getaways

With the first snow in what seems like well over a year, it is safe to say that we have a real winter on our hands. We tend to worry about the dog days of summer, but this is the time of year where cabin fever can really set in. If you want to defy the cold, now is the perfect time for those of us itching to take off on a relaxing weekend getaway. Pastoral bed & breakfasts and luxury hotels surround the D.C. area. The landscapes of these mountain and riverside resorts are in a rare, hushed state of wintry serenity, and the weather, while perhaps brutally cold, can be a good excuse to cuddle up in front of a fire with the one you love. The Ashby Inn and Restaurant In the town of Paris, Va. sits The Ashby Inn and Restaurant. Just an hour outside the city, this popular travel destination offers a respite for those jaded city dwellers seeking nature’s tranquility. A small inn with ten double rooms, it has a restaurant with 70 seats that tends to fill up every Saturday. For the adventurous couples, nearby Sky Meadow State Park, which can be seen from the porch of the Inn, offers great winter hiking. There’s nothing quite like stomping through the woods and hearing nothing but the rustling of bare branches and the crunch of snow under your feet. If you are looking for less strenuous quality time, the nearby town of Middleburg is well known for its antique shops, equestrian culture and, of course, the National Sporting Library and Museum, where you can take in the beauty of the wilderness through paintings without shivering in the cold. If it’s warm enough, stop by Middleburg Common Grounds, just across the street. They have great coffee, a cozy atmosphere, and a great chicken salad sandwich. Another great activity for those who want to relax but explore is a trip to any number of the over twenty local wineries located within 30 minutes of the Inn—the tasting rooms at Chrysalis Vineyards and Barrel Oak Winery are open year round, and their wine is worth stopping in to try. This resort is quite popular—they are often fully booked—so call to see what’s available. The Greenbrier The Greenbrier has the hallowed distinction as “America’s Resort”. Way out in West Virginia, The Greenbrier has entertained guests for generations. Under the ownership of Jim Justice, the hotel has built new amenities offers more entertainment opportunities for visitors, including a casino, live music, and its own PGA Tour event, the Greenbrier Classic, July 2-8, an event that will also feature a concert series with Toby Keith, Rod Stewart featuring Lionel Richie, Bon Jovi. All this may seem far away, but The Greenbrier now has its own place in Washington. The Greenbrier Upper Lobby, at 1427 H Street NW, is a space where travelers can book vacations at the Greenbrier. Decorated by Carleton Varney in his signature, colorful style, the Upper Lobby transports individuals to the halls of the hotel. The Greenbrier is offering a special getaway package that includes transportation to the hotel. Read more about it at The Homestead Resting on 3,000 acres of Allegheny Mountain terrain, The Homestead is a luxury mountain resort that has been spoiling their guests since before the American Revolution. This National Historic Landmark of a retreat is ranked among the world’s finest spa destinations, and has enough activities to keep you busy through the entire winter. There are a variety of suite accommodations from which to choose, including pet friendly rooms. Their world-class spa alone would nearly be worth the trip—even more so in the winter months, when the brittle cold leaves skin is particularly sensitive. After you revitalize the body and spirit with a hydrotherapy treatment, you can go see a movie at the in-house theater, or swim in the naturally heated indoor pool, play tennis on the indoor courts. Go ice skating, bowling, or even snow tubing. You can pretend it’s any season you want! The Homestead understands how to make the most out of every time of year. With nine restaurants to choose from, guests can dine in almost any manner they please. Put on your evening’s best to enjoy French American cuisine at 1766 Grille, or enjoy a poolside lunch wrapped in a beach towel with a view of the snowcapped mountains just outside the window. Goodstone Inn and Estate Close to The Ashby Inn and Restaurant, you can find The Goodstone Inn in Middleburg, Virginia. It is a luxurious, romantic country inn and gourmet restaurant set on 265 acres of rolling pastures and woodlands in the heart of wine and hunt country. Breathtaking vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains and surrounding countryside appear from every vantage point. At Goodstone, the finest hospitality, dining, personalized service and attention to detail ensure that every visit is a special and memorable occasion. With 18 rooms spread about the rustic estate, it is a choice romantic destination—and it is at its most intimate during the winter months. There are many different activities available at The Goodstone. The estate grounds hold possibilities for hiking, biking and canoeing, all of which are included in the rates. For explorers, The Goodstone Inn can arrange activities such as hot air ballooning, horseback riding and history tours, while the many wineries in the area are a good choice for those seeking a more gastronomic experience. The Restaurant at Goodstone features a farm-to-table menu and uses only the finest, fresh ingredients available — mostly sourced from Goodstone’s own organic herb and vegetable gardens and the finest purveyors in the country. They Inn and Restaurant are currently offering winter getaway packages, so indulge in a special winter retreat while it still counts. The Inn at Willow Grove Moving south, The Inn at Willow Grove is located close to the town of Orange, Virginia. Just under two hours’ drive from Washington, this eclectic country inn presents itself as an upscale, luxury retreat. Recently renovated, the Inn has eleven rooms and a gourmet restaurant. The surrounding scenery combined with the beauty of the Inn attracts guests throughout the year. With heated floor tiles, soaking tubs and fireplaces, the accommodations are worth the trip alone. You might find yourself not wanting to leave the room—which is exactly the point of wintering away. But should you want to explore, there are plenty of things to do. Guest favorites include wine tours to the various wineries in the area. Keswick Hall at Monticello Just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop, lies Keswick Hall at Monticello. A little more than two hours away from Washington, this Hotel is a great combination of a romantic Inn and a large resort. Guests travel here from all over the world to stay at this intimate haven, rated the number-one small resort in the country by Conde Nast. Located in the heart of Virginia, it is the perfect spot for a long weekend getaway. The Keswick Hall at Monticello offers a range of activities designed for couples. From couples massages and private cooking classes, to fireside billiards and couples tennis matches, there are countless activities to suit any mood. For wine enthusiasts, Keswick Hall has its own private vineyard, and offers tours of the other renowned Charlottesville vineyards nearby. Having all the amenities of a large resort with the intimacy of home, you can spend an entire weekend exploring the wondrous fall terrain of Keswick Hall. The Inn at Monticello Just a stone’s throw from Monticello proper, The Inn at Monticello is a five-acre bed & breakfast, and a convenient base of operations while exploring all that nearby Charlottesville has to offer. Just far enough outside the city to enjoy the rolling landscapes from your private porch or cottage, and down the street from a handful of vineyards, the Inn is still only a ten-minute drive from the center of town. Once in Charlottesville, across the street from the UVA campus, visit the Corner. A stretch of coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores and nightspots frequented by the local academic community, the Corner is a cultural watering hole, and a perfect place to enjoy a simple cup of coffee with a good book, grab dinner, or have a few drinks. Among the scenery, UVA’s historic chapel and the “Academical Village” are noteworthy sites. Restaurants to check out around Charlottesville include The Ivy Inn Restaurant and Hamilton’s at First and Main. Producing cuisine inspired by seasonal and locally grown ingredients, The Ivy Inn offers classic American fare with modern twists, such as pumpkin ravioli or veal osso buco with sautéed bok choy. At Hamilton’s at First and Main, inventive pairings such as roasted halibut stuffed with chèvre, or crab cakes with lemon-basil aioli are the highlights of the menu. The Inn at Little Washington When discussing luxury dining and accommodations in Virginia, The Inn at Little Washington garners the same reactions that one gets if mentioning Disney World to a four-year-old. The lovechild of renowned restaurateur Patrick O’Connell, a self-taught chef often accused of having “perfect taste” and a pioneer of the local-organic movement, The Inn at Little Washington is one of the most highly decorated restaurants and hotels in the country—and just about the only nationally lauded two-for-one. This time of year, O’Connell’s celebrated kitchen is hunkering down and making some of the most innovative and delicious comfort food you could ever imagine, using the hearty ingredients and earthy flavors of winter. [gallery ids="101146,140744,140727,140739,140734" nav="thumbs"]

New GU Gallery Features Work by Glenn Ligon

On Monday, April 1, the Maria & Alberto de la Cruz Gallery will host a free public conversation between artist Glenn Ligon and Steven Nelson, art history professor and director of the African Studies Center at UCLA.

A Tony, Townie Getaway to Frederick

Stroll north from the Square Corner, the intersection of Market and Patrick Streets in downtown Frederick, Maryland, and a freestanding mansion will appear mid-block,...