Salamander Resort: Adventure and Luxury In One Location

Salamander Resort: Adventure and Luxury In One Location

Four years into its operations, the Salamander Resort and Spa draws conferences, families, and individuals from international clientele.

Still, the staff philosophy is firmly rooted here in Loudoun County.

“We are very much open to the public,” General Manager Reggie Cooper said in the crackling firelight of Salamander’s library. “Even though it’s a fine, luxury resort we love having the local population come in and enjoy the public spaces we have available here.”

Cooper said the world-wide view with local hospitality starts all the way at the top with Salamander Hospitality’s founder the CEO, Sheila Johnson. Salamander’s corporate offices are on the main street in Middleburg and Johnson has called Middleburg and Loudoun County home.

“Having lived here in Middleburg, Miss Johnson certainly knew Loudoun County and knew this region and what things people are interested in,” General Manager Reggie Cooper.

Loudoun County residents can enjoy 20 percent off the new Chef’s Tasting Menu at Harriman’s Virginia Piedmont Grill Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings. The Gold Cup Wine Bar offers 10 percent off food Monday through Thursday for lunch and dinner.

“The spa is designed purposefully to be for more than just what the resort would populate. Miss Johnson, knew that there really was no resort-spa destination available here for people in Loudoun. So that has been a very popular piece for locals to come in and be part of it. During mid-week, to help people and encourage them and come in and use the spa, that’s why we started, really, right from the beginning with sort of a special locals discount to use the spa as way to make it a little more approachable for them versus typically what a resort spa would cost to spend the day.”

The resort’s main occupants during the week are usually there for large conventions, business meetings or organizational retreats. As such, those staying there may not have time to take advantage of the spa or other recreational offerings of Salamander – particularly equestrian activities and zip-lining adventures.

“Across the year, our business is split about half being in meetings and events that happen and half in individuals or families or couples that come and stay at the resort,” Cooper said. “For us, during the week that is really our design is that meeting spaces will be occupied and rooms will be occupied to a great extent with people coming in for those meetings.

“If their meetings go to a certain time, some of them like to use the spa or others might go golfing or some might go do equestrian during those spans but their time is not completely free. That’s what opens some of those opportunities for us to bring locals in during those times.”

In addition to the on-site spa, zip-lining, and equestrian activities, Salamander has an exclusive agreement with the Club and Creighton Farms, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course in Aldie. The staff can also assist customers who want to venture out to explore the wineries, breweries or general beauty of Loudoun County.

“We have an agreement with the Audi dealer, so if people go to our concierge desk, we can arrange for them to have a vehicle brought for their use,” Cooper said.

Discounts for Loudoun County residents generally run Sunday through Thursday. For spa treatments, a 20 percent discount is offered for any service (50 minutes or longer) received Monday through Thursday. That does not include service charges.


“We can program in spa time for our overnight guests,” Cooper said. “But we want our neighbors to know they are welcome, as well.”

The zip-line recreation area is run by Empower for the Salamander, and it was opened about a year after the resort began to operate.

“It’s located just across the lawn here and it covers 20 acres of land,” Cooper said. “What I think is a great feature is it stays within the tree canopy, so you really get a sense of the topography of the land and all the different species of trees there. There are seven different platform-to-platform rides (including two suspension sky bridges) you can do, the longest being just over 700 feet in length.”

Afraid of heights? Any sane person is. Director of Marketing Ashli Kimenker said Salamander’s staff can guide apprehensive people over the course.

“We have experienced people out there and they are really familiar with it and those bridges,” Kimenker said. “They are very good at alleviating those fears and incorporating the fun with the scary.”

Like the spa, Cooper said the more adventurous activities at the Salamander are very popular with Loudoun County residents.

“We do have a lot of families come in and they will do it as a birthday party or something and they will go out and zip and then stay and have lunch here on the terrace,” Cooper said.

It’s no secret that Virginia is horse country, and Salamander is proud of its equestrian offerings.

“The spectrum of what we do in equestrian is really very broad,” Cooper said. “We do everything from trail rides on the 340 beautiful acres we have here of countryside to where people are doing regular lessons and working with the professional staff we have here.”

Cooper said they even offer cutting-edge programs with the horses playing a key role.

“We go as far as doing some experiential like our equi-spective program where we are really helping people with how they represent themselves and the horse is kind of the moderator to that,” Cooper said.

They learn different tools about how to speak, how to be confident and how to exude personal confidence. The horses pick up on that.  It’s a great program.

“We have used it with TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) and some of the PTSD programming all the way down to somebody who has wants to be a stronger person in their life.”

Even people just looking for a good meal or relaxing evening out can enjoy Salamander.

Loudoun County residents can enjoy 20 percent off the new Chef’s Tasting Menu at Harriman’s Virginia Piedmont Grill Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings. The Gold Cup Wine Bar offers 10 percent off food Monday through Thursday for lunch and dinner.

“We have really made it a point to make sure that our menus are priced at a place where it would be affordable and not be a special-occasion restaurant but really a place that people and families could come and use on a regular basis,” Cooper said. “For brunch, of the 240 people we do every Sunday I would say probably two-thirds to three-quarters of that are from people who aren’t even staying in the resort.”

Local residents are also welcome for cooking classes Saturday afternoons at Harriman’s Cooking Studios and free wine tasting from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, featuring samples from local wineries.

With the wide variety activities available, Salamander might seem like several different clubs geared toward different kinds of people.

“We have packages that can be customized really to any individual,” Kimenker said. “There is a little of something for everyone. That is one of the reasons we pair the spa with zip-lining and with equestrian, or zip-lining with the spa or any combination.

“You can zip and zen,” she said. You can go zip-lining and then go and get a 15-minute massage and relax and have lunch by the pool.”

While the mid-week discounts are attractive for Salamander visitors, Cooper said the resort attracts many county residents for overnight stays and packages.

“What’s interesting is when you see someone with a Purcellville address and they have been here for a couple nights or they are coming from Aldi or Ashburn,” he said. “For them, I guess it’s just that you could drive three hours to one of the other resorts thats around this region or you could drive 30 minutes and feel like you’re three hours away.”

Out of all this, Kimenker said the star attraction of Salamander may be Cupcake. Not the cupcakes at Harriman’s or ones you can learn to make in the cooking classes. Cupcake, the pony.

“Everyone loves Cupcake,” Kimenker said. “Sometimes on Thursday or Friday during check-in time, we will bring Cupcake up to the hotel to greet the families checking in. The kids just love to snuggle with Cupcake.”

Joseph Dill