The Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, after nearly two months of closure, reopened its doors today.
Resort Owner Sheila Johnson and General Manager Reggie Cooper hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning to reopen the resort, which first opened seven years ago, after weeks of closure caused by the COVID-19 crisis. On hand were about 30 of the resort’s staffers who, according to Johnson, had been working nonstop for three days leading up to the event to prepare the resort for guest arrivals that day. This weekend, the resort will fill up to 70-percent capacity, Cooper said. Next weekend, it will be back to 80-percent capacity.
Having already brought back about 200 resort employees from furlough, Johnson said it was her goal to bring back all 420 of them. “I wanted them all back and I still do,” she said.
Johnson emphasized that when she opened the resort seven years ago, she did not want to let the Town of Middleburg nor the county down. She asserted that Salamander would continue to be an example of hospitality. “This is my life and soul,” she said.
During the time Salamander was closed, the staff worked to perform tens of thousands of dollars of renovations, including staining the wood floors, painting, renovating the kitchen, draining the pools and repainting the bottoms, installing new furniture and more.
“We kept ourselves pretty busy,” Cooper said. “We really made the most of that time to try and get ahead.”
During the closure period, Cooper said he was forced to furlough all of his staffers aside from six, who remained onsite and worked nearly every day of the week to mow the lawns, secure the premises and generally keep the resort functioning in a time of unprecedented vacancy.
Cooper said the resort has also changed the ways it turns rooms over from guest to guest. His staff now disinfects and fogs each of the 168 hotel rooms when guests check out and even takes extra steps to disinfect television remote controls, which have been known by many as the most germ-ridden parts of hotel rooms.
Now, resort staff sanitizes those remotes with ultraviolet light and then wraps them in sleeves. Salamander Resort guests will also have peace of mind that their rooms are thoroughly cleaned before they insert their keys in the door, he said, since those doors will be sealed with a sticker to show they were cleaned and sanitized.
“We clean this place all day long, every day,” Cooper said. “There’s been a lot of changes.”
Moving into the summer months and the next phases of reopening, Sales and Marketing Director Douglas Camp said the resort’s Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill would reopen for full dinner service on July 1.
Past that, Cooper said the fall season looks to be a feasible time for when the resort could again host weddings and banquets in addition to meetings, which, he said, account for about half of Salamander’s revenue.