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Joe H

Is Salamander Resort A Good Thing For Middleburg?

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We drove through Middleburg tonight, Friday, @8:00PM.  It was dead.  Stopped in a restaurant across the street from the Red Fox and it was a third full.  A year ago on Friday night every seat was taken.  Further out 50, beyond Upperville, both Hunters Head and the Blackthorne Inn had full parking lots.

Six weeks ago on a similar Friday night Middleburg was dead also.  That night we drove by Salamander and noted that its parking lot was 2/3 full.  Tonight we didn't take the time.

Does anyone know how Salamander is doing?  Is it just my impression or is Middleburg taking a real hit from Salamander's opening?

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We drove through Middleburg tonight, Friday, @8:00PM.  It was dead.  Stopped in a restaurant across the street from the Red Fox and it was a third full.  A year ago on Friday night every seat was taken.  Further out 50, beyond Upperville, both Hunters Head and the Blackthorne Inn had full parking lots.

Six weeks ago on a similar Friday night Middleburg was dead also.  That night we drove by Salamander and noted that its parking lot was 2/3 full.  Tonight we didn't take the time.

Does anyone know how Salamander is doing?  Is it just my impression or is Middleburg taking a real hit from Salamander's opening?

Market Salamander? We really liked that place but haven't set foot, or spent a penny, in there since Sheila Johnson's disgraceful actions during the 2009 campaign.

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Market Salamander? We really liked that place but haven't set foot, or spent a penny, in there since Sheila Johnson's disgraceful actions during the 2009 campaign.

I believe Joe is referring to the resort, http://www.salamanderresort.com, correct me if that's wrong.  I heard the food at the resort was fairly uneven from some friends closer by, however that was soon after the opening. Haven't checked it out myself.

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I believe Joe is referring to the resort, http://www.salamanderresort.com, correct me if that's wrong.  I heard the food at the resort was fairly uneven from some friends closer by, however that was soon after the opening. Haven't checked it out myself. 

Oh, he probably was. But there is zero chance I'll be spending any $$ there.

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Respectfully, my post was not about the Salamander Resort.  It is about the IMPACT it is having on the town of Middleburg.  I am suggesting based on two recent Friday evening drive throughs that Middleburg is suffering from Salamander's opening.  Salamander may be sucking people to Middleburg who never leave the property, never visit the city centre nor the countryside or any other restaurants or wineries.

I believe this is a specific topic that says nothing abut the quality of what is presented at Salamander.  Rather it is a thread dedicated to the question, solely, "is Salamander a good thing for Middleburg?"  I am guessing not and wonder others' thoughts.

I would like to see this have its own thread (which is how I started it) with my original title which immediately notes what it is about.  I'd like to know how its impacting Goodstone, the Ashby Inn, a few wineries, the Red Rox Inn and others.  Is it bringing new people to Middleburg or does it cannibalize the market sucking business from the center of town and nearby?

I had expected that Salamander would be pulling people into Middleburg who typically might not come; while there most would explore and the whole town would benefit from the large, expensive resort.  My impression is that is not happening.

Thanks.

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I would like to see this have its own thread (which is how I started it) with my original title which immediately notes what it is about. 

[That's fine; it just belongs in this forum - the Restaurants & Dining forum is very straightforward, and consists solely of restaurants, "things" like Szechuan Chicken, and "areas" like Rockville.]

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Market Salamander? We really liked that place but haven't set foot, or spent a penny, in there since Sheila Johnson's disgraceful actions during the 2009 campaign.

I never intend to go to Salamander because of the review in the Post where they said Johnson insisted on everyone calling her "Doctor Johnson" when she only has a honorary doctorate from some university.  I don't need to support that kind of pompus BS, but I had to look up the 2009 incident because I didn't remember  it.  She's a real class act:

 

Excerpt:

 

"In a campaign appearance on behalf of Bob McDonnell, the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, Johnson, the zillionaire founder of Black Entertainment Television, explained that she'd endorsed him because -- well, because he doesn't stutter.  In a macaca moment now going viral on YouTube, Johnson mocked McDonnell's opponent, state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D), by imitating and wildly exaggerating the very slight stammer that characterizes his speech."

"When rich entertainment TV moguls are mocking decent, self-effacing candidates for public office such as Deeds, you know we've reached some sort of new bottom in the slime wars. Naturally, Johnson apologized -- not because she cares a whit for Deeds, or Virginia or stutterers, or the other people she offended, but to try to patch her own tarnished reputation. Just like in high school, that's how the nasty kids roll."

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Joe "“ I had a gut reaction to your post, but before I responded I wanted to check with a couple friends who own businesses in Middleburg (retail, not restaurants) since they are more tied to the community than I am (I split time between the Middleburg area and NYC). Bottom line, regarding your comment that "I had expected that Salamander would be pulling people into Middleburg who typically might not come; while there most would explore and the whole town would benefit from the large, expensive resort" - my impression is that is not happening." - I believe your impression to be incorrect.

My gut feeling was that Salamander has been a net benefit to the town, both from an infrastructure perspective (Salamander paid for a new water treatment facility, IIRC) and from a business perspective. This sentiment was echoed by my friends "“ although they did say that he Middleburg Film Festival didn't bring as much of a pop as expected as attendees were mostly watching films as opposed to shopping.

While your three Friday nights over the course of a year is a small sample size by any measure, I think some of the perceived "deadness" comes from two things "“ the first being that the restaurant across from Red Fox (Julien's) is pretty awful. The second is that we tend to eat at French Hound, Ashby, Hunter's Head (on weekdays), and at a couple places in The Plains "“ as do our friends. If you are looking for local traffic, check those spots (and Common Grounds in the mornings).

Salamander hasn't added much to the dining scene here "“ nearly everyone I know has one horror story or another about Harriman's. The real benefit to us locals is the spa, and of course bar. Ultimately, Salamander has provided some jobs to town, is a good neighbor (always up to donate to a charity auction, raffle, etc), and has provided a boost to the town's retail (as per business owners). I'd say that's a favorable economic impact to Middleburg "“ a couple slow nights at one restaurant notwithstanding.

Whether Salamander is "good" for Middleburg or not, that's probably another question, and I am guessing each resident would have a different answer based on different criteria.

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Respectfully, my post was not about the Salamander Resort.  It is about the IMPACT it is having on the town of Middleburg.  I am suggesting based on two recent Friday evening drive throughs that Middleburg is suffering from Salamander's opening.  Salamander may be sucking people to Middleburg who never leave the property, never visit the city centre nor the countryside or any other restaurants or wineries.

I believe this is a specific topic that says nothing abut the quality of what is presented at Salamander.  Rather it is a thread dedicated to the question, solely, "is Salamander a good thing for Middleburg?"  I am guessing not and wonder others' thoughts.

I would like to see this have its own thread (which is how I started it) with my original title which immediately notes what it is about.  I'd like to know how its impacting Goodstone, the Ashby Inn, a few wineries, the Red Rox Inn and others.  Is it bringing new people to Middleburg or does it cannibalize the market sucking business from the center of town and nearby?

I had expected that Salamander would be pulling people into Middleburg who typically might not come; while there most would explore and the whole town would benefit from the large, expensive resort.  My impression is that is not happening.

Thanks.

I understand your premise but I'm not sure the conclusion follows from it.

Middleburg is not a place I go - I haven't been in 25 years. It's just too far away. Having said that, my wife asked about spending a night or two at Salamander. We haven't, but:

- For us, our time at Salamander would certainly NOT be at the expense of other businesses in town as we don't go now.

- So there's a better chance of spending something in Middleburg vs. had we never gone to Salamander at all.

I suspect that as the resort is new, a number of Middleburg residents will try it and that may have a short term minor impact. But generally people like to vacation at least a little distance from home...and thus I believe that in the long run it should have a positive economic impact, in taxes if not in additional revenues for the Middleburg businesses.

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although they did say that he Middleburg Film Festival didn't bring as much of a pop as expected as attendees were mostly watching films as opposed to shopping.

This is kind of funny - they hosted a film festival and *surprise* people watched films. :)

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This is kind of funny - they hosted a film festival and *surprise* people watched films. :)

Agreed! Probably more accurately stated that they expected either a more social crowd, or more scheduled downtime.

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Keithstg, your comments are encouraging.  I love Middleburg.  It is in the middle of one of the most beautiful places on earth and I sincerely hope that everyone reading this would consider a day trip/weekend trip or using it as a base for longer to explore the area around it.

My hope was that some would use Salamander as the destination and the "home" to return to every night after the daytrips.  My fear, based on the two recent Friday nights, is that people were staying at Salamander and not exploring off property.  jayandstacey, please don't think of it as 'too far away."  I honestly believe that Middleburg and the surrounding area (even going 100 miles south to Afton and Crozet) is the equal of Napa, Carmel and anywhere that some would cross a continent for.  I am suggesting that this worth crossing a stateline for, let alone a continent.  (I should note here that we've come through Middleburg twice on Fridays nights over the past year or so.  However, we've probably been somewhere in the Delaplane/Linden area fifteen or more times in the same time frame, often travelling out I 66.  I use to go out 50 but traffic has just become frequently nightmarish between Chantilly and Middleburg.  I might also make a comment about traffic around Haymarket but that is another thread...)

Thanks, keithstg.  I must also confess to being a bit jealous of where you live....

And, you're right about Julien's.

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My hope was that some would use Salamander as the destination and the "home" to return to every night after the daytrips.  My fear, based on the two recent Friday nights, is that people were staying at Salamander and not exploring off property.  jayandstacey, please don't think of it as 'too far away."  I honestly believe that Middleburg and the surrounding area (even going 100 miles south to Afton and Crozet) is the equal of Napa, Carmel and anywhere that some would cross a continent for.  I am suggesting that this worth crossing a stateline for, let alone a continent.

Agreed - Middleburg and the area is serene. That doesn't fly too well with my 12 and 9 year olds though. Give me another 8 years or so and we'll be out there more often.

I had forgotten that we went to Middleburg about 2 years ago, and funny story: My daughter rides horses and we visited Middleburg Tack Exchange, a small shop on a side street. At the checkout, there was an 8x10 framed picture of a well dressed man triumphantly holding a giant silver trophy with the setting sun shining in his face and a crowd of onlookers. Understand that I'm not from 'horse blood'.

Me: "who's that?"

Woman behind counter: "Oh, that's my brother."

Me: "Is that for jumping? or dressage?"

Woman: "Racing. He's a trainer."

Me: "Oh, what race did he win?"

Woman: "the Kentucky Derby. Last year."

What?!?!?! That was the beginning of me learning more about horses in general; including racing, my daughter's competitions and just working with them. This summer we'll be in the market to buy a farm(ette) with a barn and then raise a few horses ourselves.

I believe Salamander fills a HUGE niche of offering a high-end horse-related getaway. I wouldn't be surprised if Greenbriar and others eventually have to address this - sorry, but a golf course and a back rub aren't getting a guy like me onto the property (I'm not suggesting Greenbriar or others are hurting for business, just that Salamander seems appealing in a way no other local resort has before...to me...)

I look forward to an emptier nest egg, less soccer games and horse shows, and more Middleburg. (And when I reach that point, of course I'll mistily miss the endless soccer games and horse shows as I sip a nice tea on a patio somewhere in Middleburg :) )

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I didn't see another topic for the Salamander, and I didn't stay there, so I wasn't sure this post qualified for the hotels thread, but... The Spa at the Salamander is a really nice spa, especially for groups.  If you are local to the area and ask for the local discount you get 20% off your tab, and they validate your valet parking.  It is akin to Nemacolin in that most spa services come with a day pass to use the heated outdoor pool, outdoor hot tub, indoor whirlpool, steam, fancy shower thing and those nice heated chairs and relaxation room.  I got a massage and the price was in line with other places, and the local discount essentially paid for my gratuity, I didn't have Brian or Tony, but was told next time to ask for them.  We hung out in the hot tub amongst the snow, without anyone else out there. Steam room, etc.  It was a fun thing to do today while my office was closed to celebrate a friend's birthday.  I hadn't found a spa in this area comparable to Nemacolin in terms of being able to go and have all the extra amenities.  The beautiful snow made it a little more special.  I am sure they get busy on weekends and it might not be quite as relaxing.

If you are a spa guest you get 10% off meals in the wine room.  We had a late lunch there with the crispy cauliflower (kind of like orange chicken, but with fried cauliflower) good, but not close to Evening Star's.  Burrata on toast which was quite good.  And I got the farro salad, as it fit my effort to try to eat less meat, especially at lunch.  The farro salad was fairly boring, but not bad, just boring.  I am sure most people top it with a protein.  Cashews would be a nice addition.  Others got sandwiches which looked good, especially the crabcake.  I was happy they had soy or almond milk as an option with coffee before the drive home.

Anyway, one of our friends is going back out Friday, but eating in town, so I think it is at least helping some of the local restaurants.

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