It is so amazing to me that nestled a mere 50 miles from the nation’s capital is a fairytale horse country replete with rolling hills, vineyards, and small town charm. We were lucky enough to discover all this while visiting the area’s most luxurious and grand getaway, the Salamander Resort & Spa. The resort spans 340 idyllic acres with trails, horseback riding, indoor and outdoor event space. From the moment we drove onto the grounds, we were astounded by the peace, beauty, and elegance that seemed to emanate throughout the property. The hotel lobby is an refined mix of the genteel country and the luxury of an estate, and staff were welcoming and professional, ready to help with any whim.
The spacious Dressage Suite was breathtaking with creme and rich taupe hues accented by Tiffany blue. I loved the soaring ceiling and beautiful views over the green fields and trees, and of course the equestrian theme carried throughout in thoughtful decor. A step off the living room, the balcony was lovely for a lazy picnic of charcuterie and wine while taking in the fresh air and serenity. The soaking tub was the ultimate luxury after a day in the sun to unwind and relax. I was a little giddy using the marble-topped vanity as it was indulgent to primp for dinner in such a pretty setting. I slept so soundly in the king bed, the only thing that could get me out was the promise of a fun day’s activities.
We sat outside on a beautiful late summer evening to dine at Harrimans, overlooking the great lawn and gardens. The menu of haute cuisine focused on fresh and seasonal produce sourced from neighboring farms and expertly prepared by Chef de Cuisine Chris Edwards. All the cocktails are named after famous racehorses, and on the recommendation of our knowledgeable server, I tried the Phar Lap, named after a legendary Australian racehorse. The basil-tinged martini was perfectly balanced and light enough for the summer evening as we began the tasting menu of locavore finds. The creamy herbal chicken pate with zucchini bread set the stage for what was to come, a chilled tomato gazpacho bursting with fresh and juicy flavor. The tender herb roasted quail with summer squash and pea shoots was flavorful, and the highlight of the meal was actually a farmer’s bounty of colorful fresh vegetables. To finish off an excellent meal, the mascarpone fruit tart perfectly balanced the citrus and sweet cream and mint syrup. The wine pairing was like taking a tour and tasting of the best surrounding wineries with each glass expertly paired with the dish. I must say the wines surpassed my expectations and were quite impressive in variety and scope.
The resort pool is located a short walk from the back of the main building, and had a low key, family friendly vibe. I noticed that the strategically placed fountains were not only enjoyable to watch and fun to play in, they also created a soothing “white noise” effect so any noise would not interrupt a nap! There is also a pristine indoor pool available for cooler months and lap swimming.
I cannot wait to return to this gem, as I can only dream of the beauty of the foliage and fun activities including the Middleburg Film Festival and a neat opportunity to hone photography skills with Jeff Mauritzen, a National Geographic photographer during a workshop weekend. The award-winning spa is also on my must-do for the next visit, the best excuse for a return!