I rarely write reviews or do online chats, but I feel compelled to write about the brand new Salamander Hotel (resort) in Middleburg, VA, which will become a destination place for us without question. I started writing this when we first returned from our visit on the opening weekend of the resort -but didn’t have a chance to send it in earlier. When I went on this site to send my review, I was so turned off by a few of the petty comments regarding the opening weekend glitches and so this review got a lot longer, as I was resigned to explain in detail the stunning beauty and personalized touches of this very welcome addition to the Mid-Atlantic. Long anticipating this opening, which was well publicized online, I was anxious to see if the DC area could finally welcome a luxury resort with the amenities that pamper and rejuvenate those of us who lead stressful professional lives. Salamander exceeded all of my expectations, and it was nice to experience its inaugural night/weekend, which worked perfectly with our end-of-the summer schedule. While I am not a horse person, the horse country theme and “unpretentious grandeur” of this huge (300+ acre) resort provided a wonderful sense of calm, reminiscent of a world where grace and patience were exalted and nature was embraced as essential and not simply contextual. From the vast, tree-laden landscape, to the backdrop of horses being walked out of the barn for a morning trot, to the rolling grassy fields as pleasing to the eyes as to one’s bare feet, to the starry night sky on a par with those of our favorite Caribbean spots, we couldn’t believe we were so close to home as we took it all in. Inside the resort, tremendous art and historical homages adorned the generous hallways and beautiful, stately, yet understated, common rooms one imagines in an old world estate, renovated and updated to please newer generations –including a library, billiards room, grand parlor, ballroom, etc. Of particular note for us were the brilliantly appointed, spacious bedrooms –and bathrooms- the sumptuous bed linens and canopied beds, the fireplace in the room, the wonderful array of spa services (I was not surprised to learn that my masseuse was a transplant from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in DC –one of my very favorites) and great meals the whole weekend. And how nice it was that many meals boasted fresh fruits and vegetables from the resort’s onsite garden, which is visible from one of the back terraces. I was forced to rethink my diet momentarily, when I tasted my friend’s delectable vegan offerings on several occasions throughout the weekend, especially the soy (I think) “scrambled eggs”, the vegan chocolate croissants, and the tasty tempeh sausage. The entire staff throughout the hotel jumped to satisfy our every request, with a smile and an old-fashioned “yes, m’am” and, while the service during the busier meals was a bit slow, we were hard-pressed to complain, as we settled into civility and enjoyed a nice sparkling wine, which the waiter recommended, and, at least once, indulged in an endemic “Virginia Julep” cocktail made with VA bourbon and fresh mint leaves from the resort garden. We enjoyed exquisitely-prepared dishes that delighted our palates without fail all weekend (among them, striped bass and sea scallop selections and freshly-baked beignets better than any on the planet, including NOLA). We were able to chat with the chef twice and were tickled to discover he was none other than Todd Gray of DC’s Equinox Restaurant (would not have recognized him but for his name tag)…….For us, the many comfortable seating areas throughout the grounds where we could just sit and enjoy the countryside were also quite special, as were the thoughtful details of the evening “turn-downs”. The low-key (pardon), tasteful musical backdrop all weekend, including the lovely pianist in the drawing room, added to the disarmingly warm elegance of what we have ordained our “eastcoast Shangri-La”. We are gleeful to now have an alternative to the predictably bland, high-end chain hotels we often settle for when a getaway is needed - at a competitive, reasonable for the product, cost. We have yet to fully savor all that the new Salamander Resort in the charming town of Middleburg has to offer -including the local boutique shopping and the hiking trails at the resort. The two and a half days we spent there at the end of August left us wanting more. I vow to return as the trees turn color this fall. Maybe I’ll even write another review then. Writing this was a nice way to memorialize this special last weekend of our summer!