Salamander Resort & Spa

Celebrity Chef Event Celebrates Diversity In Hospitality


Salamander Hotels & Resorts and Chef Kwame Onwuachi teamed up with FOOD & WINE to host the first-of-its-kind experience at Salamander Resort & Spa

Photo Credit: Clay Williams

(Middleburg, VA, August 25, 2021) – This past weekend, Sheila Johnson’s Salamander Hotels & Resorts and Meredith Corporation’s FOOD & WINE hosted the inaugural Family Reunion presented by chef and author Kwame Onwuachi. 

The immersive, multi-day event celebrated diversity in the hospitality community through cooking classes and demonstrations, wine tastings and dinners, and thought-provoking panel discussions with world-class chefs, sommeliers, and industry leaders including Carla Hall, Rodney Scott, Padma Lakshmi, Gregory Gourdet, Mashama Bailey, Andre Fowles, and Pierre Thiam.

The Family Reunion took place from August 19 – 22, 2021 at Johnson’s Five-Star-rated Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Virginia, located in the heart of the state’s wine country and just one hour from Washington, D.C. Throughout the weekend, speakers, chefs, and sommeliers delved closely into the Black cooking traditions that have shaped cuisine in America, shared lessons from the past, and focused on building a better and more inclusive future. Virginia Ali of Ben’s Chili Bowl was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Rémy Martin, while Dave Chappelle and Estelle also made special appearances. 

Held predominantly outdoors on Salamander Resort’s 340 sprawling acreage, attendees also had an opportunity to enjoy musical performances and indulge in several recreational activities like ziplining, ax throwing, and horseback riding led by celebrity participants. A limited attendance created opportunities for social distancing and appropriate safety protocols. 

The Family Reunion benefited from Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign to help end childhood hunger, while the event is also helping to create a mentorship and scholarship program to foster diversity in the hospitality industry.

The event enjoys sponsorship support from Rémy Martin, Lexus, Virginia Tourism Corporation, Brett Johnson Collection, United Airlines, Sheila Johnson Collection, Williams-Sonoma, Visit Loudoun, Resy and American Express, the Town of Middleburg, McBride Sisters Collection, and McEnearney Associates.

The Family Reunion is part of the expanding FOOD & WINE Classic network of events anchored by the celebrated FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, a mainstay in the culinary world for over three decades, as well as the recently launched FOOD & WINE Classic at Home virtual events, among others.

About Salamander Hotels & Resorts

Salamander Hotels & Resorts delivers comfortable luxury through signature, immersive experiences which enrich the lives of guests. The company is privately owned and operated, and based in Middleburg, VA, just outside Washington, D.C. Founded by entrepreneur Sheila Johnson in 2005, it has a luxury portfolio featuring the Forbes Five-Star Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, a 340-acre equestrian-inspired property near Washington, D.C.; Half Moon, the iconic luxury resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica, which features three distinct resort experiences including the newly opened Eclipse; The Henderson, a 170-room grand beach resort in Destin, FL; Hotel Bennett, a spectacular 179-room hotel in Charleston, SC, overlooking the city’s historic Marion Square; and Innisbrook Resort in Tampa Bay, which hosts the PGA TOUR’s Valspar Championship each year on its Copperhead Course. All Salamander properties are members of Preferred Hotels & Resorts. For additional information visit

About Salamander Resort & Spa

Salamander Resort & Spa is a Forbes Five-Star rated and LEED Green Building Certified resort situated on 340 picturesque acres in the historic village of Middleburg, Va. Located only one hour from Washington, D.C. and just 35 minutes from Washington Dulles International Airport, the resort is designed to respect the architectural traditions of Virginia’s countryside with 168 spacious rooms and suites that blend into their natural environment. Resort Owner Sheila C. Johnson has created a luxurious destination featuring an award-winning 23,000-square-foot spa, Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill, the Gold Cup Wine Bar, a dedicated Cooking Studio, a chef-inspired Culinary Garden as well as the adventurous Tree Top Zip Tour. The resort includes a full-service Equestrian Center with unique programming, a 22-stall stable, and a riding arena. All spa, culinary and equestrian facilities, and programs are open to the community. The resort is also developing Residences at Salamander, which offers 49 luxury, built-for-sale homes within a pristine landscape. For more information, visit


FOOD & WINE is the ultimate authority on the best of what’s new in food, drink, travel, design, and entertaining. FOOD & WINE has an extensive social media following on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. FOOD & WINE includes a monthly magazine in print and digital; a website,; a books division; plus newsletters, clubs, events, dinnerware, cookware, and more. At FOOD & WINE, we inspire and empower our wine and food-obsessed community to eat, drink, entertain and travel better—every day and everywhere. FOOD & WINE is part of Meredith Corp.’s (NYSE: MDP: portfolio of best-in-class brands.

Contact: Matt Owen, VP of Communications, Salamander Hotels & Resorts | 843-991-0213



Written by Shayda Windle

As the world reopens this summer, the town of Middleburg is brimming with excitement to host live events once again in person. America’s National Ballet Company is stopping through Hunt Country on July 19 for their first-ever “ABT Across America” bus tour. Like all performing arts groups, last year the dance company had to find new ways to continue with rehearsals and performances, despite the challenges ahead. They continued much of their performances online and in “ballet bubbles,” a quarantined space where dancers could continue performing while following COVID protocols.

Joseph Markey, a dancer who’s been with ABT since December 2019, says after the pandemic hit, the company took residence at PS21, a performance space based out of Chatham, New York in order to continue working. During the short time, he’s been with the company, half of it was spent in quarantine. After 16 months of “ballet bubbles,” he’s excited to finally perform in-person through the bus tour, which he says, pays homage to ABT’s roots and is an “opportunity to bring inspiration back across the country after going through this dark time together.”

As soon as things began to look brighter this spring, Kyle Pickles, the associate general manager of American Ballet Theatre, says they began to look at new ways to make the dancers accessible to the public. They wanted to ensure the path they chose was “safe and comfortable for everyone.” Through a number of brainstorming sessions and a little creativity, the “ABT Across America” bus tour was born. Pickles calls the tour something “reminiscent of the rock and roll playbooks,” which is ironically just how ABT started during its humble beginnings in the ‘40s and ‘50s. Back then, the company would travel coast to coast on a bus and perform live on stage at various venues.

“This tour is very different because our performances are self-contained,” Pickles says. “Our dancers will perform on a custom-built stage that folds out of an 18-wheel- er, complete with lighting and all the equipment needed for a show. They’ll have an opportunity to rehearse on the mobile stage before performing while following all local precautions for COVID-19 safety. This year we had to pivot and find ways to make ourselves accessible in ways that were comfortable for everyone involved. The bus tour was reimagined out of the pandemic.”

Image above: American Ballet Theater Dress Rehearsal INDESTRUCTIBLE LIGHT Todd Rosenberg Photography 2021

Instead of hopping on a plane to Chicago, the group of 20 ABT dancers and 28 support crew will travel across 14 states, for a total of 3,100 miles, performing outdoors for socially distanced audiences. The ABT Across America tour kicks off on Thursday, July 1 in Lincoln, Nebraska. From there, the buses will make their way east through cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, and St. Louis, before stopping in Middleburg. There will be two 50-minute shows at Salamander Resort on July 19, the first at 5 p.m. and the second taking place at 8 p.m.

Each show will be performed without an intermission. Guests can expect to see a mix of inspirational performances, beginning with La Follia Variations, a joyful, colorful performance that’s a celebration of the carefree and unconfined nature of dance. The group will also perform scenes from Don Quixote or Swan Lake, a sultry dance from Tony Bennett’s “Let Me Sing Forevermore,” and finish the show up with Indestructible Light, a piece created during the quarantine by African-American choreographer Darrell Grand Moutrie. The finale is a joyous symbol of the resilience of the arts despite the unprecedented circumstances of this past year.

American Ballet Theater Dress Rehearsal “INDESTRUCTIBLE LIGHT” Todd Rosenberg Photography 2021

“We’re honored and excited to be one of just eight stops on this incredible tour,” Sheila Johnson, the Founder, and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, says. “I am always looking for ways to integrate the arts into the programming we offer at Salamander Resort & Spa, and believe these performances will provide a truly one-of-a-kind experience for our guests.” ML

Tickets include a suggested donation amount of $10, $25, and $50 with the option for an open-ended donation. All proceeds will go to the Middleburg Community Center’s Art Program. To purchase individual tickets or overnight packages at Salamander Resort & Spa, please visit or call 844-303-2723.

This article first appeared in the July 2021 Issue.

2019 Nail Trends for Weddings

By Chelsea Rose Moore

Salamander Resort & Spa Salon Supervisor Sarah Preast, is a master stylist who does everything from nails to hair to makeup. Immersed in the world of beauty, she keeps up with all the trends, watching the styles her clients are choosing (or avoiding), and offering her favorite tips and tricks.

“For most people, a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. You want to look and feel your best,” said Preast. Over the last two years, the salon has seen an increase in men’s manicures and pedicures. Preast called it a growing trend for men. For many men, this has become an act of self-care before their wedding.

“We’re seeing about 50 percent of grooms coming in for a manicure or pedicure,” she said, “A lot of men do a buff or shine, instead of a polish. It’s a very clean and refreshing look for men to have their nails groomed for their wedding. It ties the whole look together. [At a wedding], when a man is in a nice suit, people are looking at his hair, and they can see his hands.”

In addition to men’s haircuts, facials, deep tissue massages, and riders’ relief massages, Salamander’s Salon also offers manicures and pedicures designed specifically for men. The 85-minute experience includes a treatment that hydrates the hands and feet, energizes skin, and leaves nails short and buffed. Want to skip the pedicure and just do a manicure? No problem. Customers can opt for a single manicure or pedicure, instead of both. Getting their nails done is definitely going to give men a boost of confidence, said Preast.

The Salamander Resort & Spa Salon supervisor says another new trend is color in the bride’s manicure selections.

The 2019 nail trends cover everything from minimal accents of color and monochrome nail art to 80’s and 90’s neon and glitter. Also on trend are super minimal manicures, designed to showcase the natural nail with a simple layer of glitter. The 90s bedazzled nail trend, which includes a basic manicure with small stones, stickers, and textures, is making a comeback. However, when it comes to weddings, many still think of the traditional French manicure.

Preast noted that many brides are actually straying from traditional French manicures. Although French manicures are “elegant and classy,” she’s seeing brides select whites, opaque hues, pastels, pinks, and nudes. She believes this is a result of changing times, which has influenced the shifting styles and color schemes of weddings. Brides are channeling more natural, bohemian vibes. Stylists are adding pop, much like how professional photographers are giving wedding photos better color contrast and enhanced visual appeal.

Dress, hair, and makeup styles have shifted too, Preast noted. Wedding hairstyles have gone from elegant “ballroom” to relaxed, natural looks. “Putting color on nails works for the new trend in weddings,” she said. “People are going more natural.”

In 2017, Preast herself opted out of a traditional French manicure for her wedding. She chose a more natural look – a relaxed wedding dress, curled hair, and soft color on her nails.

When a bride arrives at the salon, Preast begins by asking questions about the wedding: where it is located, what style it is, how the bride is doing her hair, and what style of dress she is wearing. Many brides already know exactly how they want their nails, but when a bride is looking for suggestions, Preast will offer style choices tailored to the wedding’s theme.

Salamander Resort & Spa Salon has a few new services to offer clients, like the Margaret Dabbs Supreme Manicure and Pedicure. Developed by a renowned podiatrist and leader of one of London’s top podiatrist clinics, the Margaret Dabbs manicure and pedicure combines luxury beauty treatments with organic ingredients designed to nourish the skin. The Salamander is one of the only locations in the area to offer a Margaret Dabbs treatment. For clients who are careful about the ingredients they put on their bodies, this will be a go-to treatment.

“It’s not just about the finishing look of the nails – it’s the wellness of your foot as well,” said Preast, “You have to consider what you’re putting on your body and what it does to your body. If you’re going to [get a nail treatment], you might as well do the safest route possible.” The Margaret Dabbs treatment includes tea tree oil, which is anti-fungal and anti-septic, and emu oil, which contains essential fatty acids and vitamins that restore and replenish deep layers of skin.

The salon offers a variety of perks that truly make it a luxury experience. From hot neck warmers to selections of Prosecco and hot tea, guests will find themselves drifting into a relaxed state of being – just what couples need before their big day.

The Salamander Salon offers locals a 20 percent discount on salon services from Monday through Thursday. The offer is open to residents of Loudoun and surrounding counties.

This article first appeared in the February 2018 issue of Middleburg Life.