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Celebrate Virginia Gold Cup races at Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg

Salamander Resort & Spa, Middleburg, Va.


With the Virginia Gold Cup Races held nearby May 3rd, the Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg is offering an equestrian’s massage as well as libations at its Gold Cup bar.

The region’s first bar to feature wines made by the area’s top vineyards, the Gold Cup at Salamander promises to become a watering hole for patrons of the annual event. The website has all of the 2014 information on it. The May event draws more than 50,000 to the Great Meadow.
Women relish the opportunity to show off spring sundresses and accessorize with colorful hats and fascinators. The gentlemen don’t miss their chance to dress dapper, and sport seersucker suits, madras pants and sport coats, but don’t wear jeans.

The Gold Cup’s long-standing tradition beckons to national celebrities, local VIPs, DC politicians as well as visitors from around the world. Characterized by lavish tailgate picnic spreads, sleek thoroughbreds, and exciting hoof-pounding competition, action starts at 10 a.m. Ask the concierge at Salamander Resort to arrange transportation and tickets, or contact one of many companies involved with sponsorships, tents to entertain, and some actually end up doing business there.

Steeplechase racing offers the fast-action sport in a refined social setting, and at Gold Cup, some of the best horses and jockeys compete over hurdles, timber, and on the flat. Held every year on the first Saturday in May, the Virginia Gold Cup enjoys a spectacular setting in the heart of Virginia’s horse country with the Blue Ridge Mountains serving as the backdrop. It is Virginia’s answer to the Kentucky Derby.

Building the Salamander brand, Sheila Johnson was inspired by an amphibian creature known for its ability to regenerate lost limbs. In fact, a former owner of the farm whose wartime code name with the French resistance was “Salamander,” approved plans to name the resort.

From her involvement with the Parsons School of Design in New York came Johnson’s interest in photography and fashion design. Displayed on each floor of the Salamander’s lodge, Johnson’s photographs capture the changing seasons in Virginia.

The decor and amenities complement a panoramic view when you step onto the terrace: rolling lawns and foliage immediately envelop your senses and calm the spirit. Groups of riders cross the lawn to enter a network of trails on the 500-acre nature preserve.

Sparked by her daughter Paige Johnson Payne, an avid horse rider and competitor, the Salamander Resort has one of the largest equestrian centers on the East Coast. Built of wood in a pristine classic style, the 22-stall stable opens to an outdoor arena with Thor-Turf footing, miles of trails, and nine turnout paddocks, Programs appeal to all levels, interests and ages of aspiring equestrians. Families can train together or work with a private trainer.

Equestrian Director Sheryl Jordan developed the Equi-Spective Experience and the chance to communicate with horses using body language. A veteran instructor for the past 40 years, Jordan believes the relationships between horses, humans, and nature can equip riders with life-changing leadership skills.

Salamander has opened a new phase for children and their parents. The Equi-Spective Experience at Salamander Resort & Spa is a unique self-discovery program that unites horse and human with the ultimate goal of developing leadership expertise and self-confidence. The multi-level experience can be scheduled in four-hour or eight-hour sessions, ranging in price from $200 to $450 per person in group session, or from $125 for a private session lasting one hour, tailored to your ability.

And yoga on horseback.

Making new connections, the horse supports you during a series of yoga stretches.
It is part body language, explains Jordan, and part mind-body training. The horse’s body warmth adds calm support. If you’re flexible enough to downward dog on the back of your horse, the class consists of 30 minutes of traditional yoga in the stable and 30 minutes of back and leg stretches on the horse (spotters are on each side of the horse if your balance falters).

For traditionalists, yoga classes are held in the stable or out on the grass.

After a hearty country breakfast, the spa is the perfect place to reconnect body and soul.
Riders also enjoy relaxing in the whirlpools and saunas prior to a massage or facial. According to Spa Director Penny Kriel, Salamander offers a unique combination of botanical and organic treatments.

Trained as an esthetician in South Africa, Kriel came to the Salamander Spa after managing the Mandarin Oriental Hotel spa in Washington. “Here we are focused on proper balance of skincare for an outdoor lifestyle,” she told me, “as well as the stress in Washington.” Featured product lines are Natura Bisse from Spain, and Alchimie-Forever from Switzerland.

Teenagers regularly show up with their parents to experience their first massage or pedicure. And aging baby boomers get special attention.

The multi-level spa expands to an outdoor terrace with swimming pool and cabanas,
indoor lap pool, fitness center with LifeFitness equipment, and movement studio. The spa salon provides haircuts and styling, ultra-hydrating manicure and pedicure, and anti-aging mineral makeup.

The 14 deluxe treatment rooms, most with an outdoor terrace, are an escape from the hotel’s busy bar. Couples can reserve a spacious suite to enjoy treatments side-by-side in a private garden, complete with whirlpool.

Themed treatments include “Rider’s Relief massage” for equestrians ($165 for 50 minutes); deep tissue “Golfer’s Massage” using golf balls to help align the body ($175 for 50 minutes); “Bamboo Massage” ($165 for 50 minutes) where the therapist uses warm bamboo stalks to give a deep combination of heat and pressure to release toxins from the body caused by stress.

Whether you win a bet on Gold Cup or simply come to relax, this horse country retreat is a winner. There are 168 rooms, with rates from$525 per night, and suites for $2,500.

Contact:; 540/687-3600

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