Courtesy Virginia Tourism Corp.
Horse country and vineyards surround the 340-acre Salamander Resort and Spa, open since August in Middleburg, Va. Aimed at upscale meetings, the 168-room resort has 12,000 square feet of conference space and a spa, a cooking studio with a wine bar, equestrian activities and golf privileges.
Groups can gather in a garden, on terraces or in a stable. Team building leans toward high-end pastimes like fox hunting, polo or sports-car time trials.
“There is no finer place for a corporate retreat,” said Matt Owen, public relations director. “That’s the reason it was built close to D.C. and to Dulles Airport.”
“The setting in horse country is absolutely beautiful,” said Paula Tregoning, executive assistant at DynCorp International. She organized a strategic planning session there three weeks after Salamander opened. During three days of team building, attendees learned about winemaking, went horseback riding and had a cook-off.
Salamander is not the only new development in Virginia of interest to meeting planners.
In Hot Springs, the Homestead Resort is now owned by Omni, which has been adding historic properties to its portfolio. Omni has spent $25 million there on upgrades and additions.
The resort’s 483 guest rooms and 72,000 square feet of meeting space have been improved. A Canyon Ranch SpaClub; a Canyon Ranch Cafe; Jefferson’s Restaurant and Bar; and DownTime, a family game and team-building area, have opened. In the winter months, a water complex that opened a year ago becomes an ice skating rink set next to a heated pool.
“We can host meetings of up to 1,000,” said Lynn Swann, director of marketing and communications. “But a group of 20 can have a meal and an afternoon of golf, socializing while still working.”
Peggy Parker, director of the Virginia Life, Accident and Sickness Insurance Guaranty Association, has scheduled a dozen board meetings there. “I don’t think anyone has ever told me no to any request. They’ll even extend the meeting rate before and after a meeting.”