Eat, Movies, Dream: A Quick Getaway to the Salamander Resort in Middleburg

Climate change has played a part in making this past summer one of the hottest on record. The outside temperature was almost unbearable and many took solace in movie theaters, making the movie companies reach record highs in opening weekends. Universal studios recently grossed over $4B, tipped over by the release of the hilarious Girls Trip movie starring Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith, and featuring up and coming comedic artist Tiffany Haddish. Columbia movies also released a similar plot movie, Rough Night featuring Scarlett Johannson, Zoe Kravitz along with SNL star Kate McKinnon, who is probably best known for her Hillary Clinton impersonation. Both movies featured college friends uniting in sin cities (Miami and New Orleans) for wild adventures. Fun Mom Dinner featuring another SNL alumna, Molly Shannon, follows another foursome with small children looking for a simple dinner out with other moms. The plot goes beyond simple and these women had their own wild adventures beyond their dinner.

Like the moms in Fun Mom Dinner many are looking for a good meal and a getaway—even if just for a few hours. In these days of overscheduling and constant stress, we all NEED a getaway of some sort.

My mission was to seek an escape that allowed for total indulgence and relaxation instead of a “what-happens-in-Vegas” type of trip. My pilgrimage: Salamander Resort & Spa.

After a scenic drive and a deep inhale, I had arrived. I was ready to experience an uninterrupted meal and some fun girl time. I am sure by now that most have heard how pretty and picturesque the Salamander Resort & Spa is…it truly is an oasis for the weary. I headed straight to Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill restaurant.

While I waited for my friend to meet me at the restaurant I was offered a beverage—a Kir Royale was my choice. The maître d’ was personable and attentive. I found myself chatting with ease.

The ambiance at Harriman’s was comfortable yet sophisticated, accented by a wall of windows that showed the well manicured Salamander grounds. In the foreground a life-size game of chess and Adirondack chairs encircling a campfire. I couldn’t wait to have s’mores at this fire! I’ve got my dessert already picked out. Nothing fancy for me, good old marshmallow and chocolate was good enough!

For dinner, I was torn between all of the choices—from delectable seafood to sumptuous meats. There was so much to choose from, including some rabbit dishes—not my cup of tea—I vaguely remember Bugs Bunny being chased by Elmer Fudd for hasenpfeffer, and being an avid movie and cartoon watcher, no thanks, no wabbit for me! The people at a nearby table did select the rabbit fritters and told me they were delicious as their eyes rolled back in their head when they told me.

As this was a weekend of indulgence, I chose the split roasted Maine lobster. I joined my neighbors with my eyes rolling back into my head as I carefully ate every morsel on my plate. The lobster melted in my mouth. I almost ate the grilled lemon that I squeezed to shower my lobster. Again, my mind drifted to the movie Spy with Melissa McCarthy when she ate the wet nap thinking it was an amuse-bouche! My friend had the prime Delmonico ribeye. I tasted it: juicy, flavorful and tender; I hardly needed a knife. I could tell that Executive Chef Ryan Arensdorf hailed from the Windy City by way of Kansas City!

I am so delighted that I chose Salamander Resort & Spa as my getaway location. It is a full-service resort with fine and casual dining, spa and outdoor activities. I meandered around the resort and found a brochure of activities at the concierge desk, that included horseback riding, ziplining, archery, yoga, and cooking classes.

I needed to walk off all that food and trekked to an inviting campfire and was pleasantly surprised to meet a group of ladies from New Jersey. Like the women in the summer movies, they were college pals, who were still good friends who had escaped from home. Jersey? Immediately I thought of the SNL sketch–”I’m from Jersey, you from Jersey… what exit?”

I tried not to bombard the Jersey girls, after all I was hanging with one of my good friends. Each of these ladies had a certain look that made me want to get to know her. One looked studious and bookish, another dainty and ladylike, one looked serious and I thought I overheard her mention being a lawyer. One complimented me on my shoes, and I knew right then, that they might as well have been my college buddies. One by one they joined the group, each coming from a spa treatment, dinner or room service or packing. It was the evening before their departure. The ringleader, Nancy, told me how they selected Salamander out of all the possibilities. They had been to Charleston and Hilton Head in previous trips. After all, these were accomplished women “of a certain age,” as she said. Their next destination could be the Middle East, or the moon—they could have gone anywhere. They just wanted an escape and to catch up with each other. Chatting and talking about politics, movies and life. I felt like part of the group. The icing on the cake—the last to join the group brought enough s’mores fixings for me and my pal!

At 1:00 am we said our goodbyes and I ventured to my room, which looked like a comfortable apartment reminiscent of my earlier days (but with more expensive furnishings), before marriage, before kids, before all of the things that made me overscheduled and in need of a getaway. Showered and in my comfy PJs and scented lotion, I spotted a bedtime treat left by the staff—a tasty butterscotch scone—a mouthful of heaven. I scarfed it down, savored the creamy taste of butterscotch and drifted to sleep as the TV played movie trailers from the movie channels. Somehow I dreamt I was in a movie with my four good girlfriends and we were at Salamander Resort & Spa—we went on an equestrian tour of Middleburg. We were like the female cast of Blazing Saddles with Gene Wilder, after the venture, we came back to the Salamander spa for bamboo massages. All of that activity was followed up by a leisurely lunch on the veranda. I had the crab cake BLT sandwich and sweet potato tots from the Gold Cup Wine Bar. I washed it down with a refreshing cucumber mint lemonade. To end the meal, I had the freshly made donuts served hot dusted with powdered sugar, served with sweet strawberries!!

When I awoke from my dream at 10:00 in the morning–I normally naturally wake at 5:45 am at home, I ventured to the concierge desk to schedule a cooking class at Harrimans Cooking Studio. I actually had the food in my dreams and split the donut dessert with my friend. I was now ready to venture back to my own reality show at home with the cast of my own family and friends. It won’t be as theatrical and wild as the ladies in Rough Night, Girls Trip, or Fun Mom Dinner, but a girl can always dream!