See the forest from a bird’s perspective. Learn leadership styles from a horse. Browse shops and restaurants in historic Middleburg, Va.
Then meet in a space as inviting as country squire’s living room. It’s all part of Salamander Hotels & Resorts CEO Sheila Johnson’s vision of a relaxing, luxurious escape that appeals to both small- and large-groups of every age and activity level. Johnson designed Salamander Resort & Spa to echo the comfort and elegance of her own home and the result is a sophisticated, relaxing destination that encourages wellness and self-realization for visiting meeting and incentive groups.
Johnson’s homey but haute spread is set on 340 acres in Virginia horse and wine country less than an hour’s drive from Washington, DC. Its equestrian center, manor house vibe, world-class spa, inventive farm-to-table dining venues, 25,000 sf of meeting space, and a portfolio of one-of-a-kind activities create an alluring mix that appeals to event attendees from a wide variety of cultures.
“Salamander is the only resort that has this kind of program,” says Equestrian Director, Sheryl Jordan when describing EquiSpective, the resort’s marquee group experience that bonds and enlightens via horse-human interaction. Like humans, “horses dwell in a social group; they form relationships and read body language, energy and intention. We can learn from them.”
Over the course of our time at the equestrian center, we learned how to communicate with Patrick the horse through body language and to direct his actions with non-verbal cues. The curriculum sheds light on leadership styles, the power of relationships and self-awareness that instantly transforms any group into a team.
Lifting Groups to New Heights
After settling in, we headed off-site where Empower Adventure’s tree top zip lining experience brought our group to new heights over a 20-acre forest on five zip lines and across two suspension bridges. “You have to be brave for just two seconds to do this,” explains our guide, Empower General Manager Trevon Hauth, referring to the gutsy two seconds it takes to move both feet off a 35-ft platform and into thin air with nothing but a slim cable to hang on to. Tip: follow this one up as we did with a hot stone treatment and massage at Salamander Spa. We emerged restored and ready for herbal cocktails, an inventive locally sourced dinner and walk through the resort’s fragrant culinary garden following our session.
Pounding It Out
The resort’s fitness center marked the spot for a “Pound” workout that had everyone banging drumsticks on the floor in sync to music while doing squats and lunges. Our reward: A 10-minute walk to Salamander Market in Middleburg for a big, home-style breakfast, and a little meandering through the village’s quaint shops, cozy cafes and historic buildings.
Our time with Salamander culminated in an excursion to RdV, nearby vineyard where we wandered the terroir, learned about wine-making, shared plates of local cheeses and charcuterie and tasted RdV’s latest vintages.