The Salamander Resorts hotel group is one property greater following its latest purchase of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C. For founder and CEO Sheila Johnson, a “longtime dream” has been fulfilled with the recent expansion.
“It’s such a great solid foundation that’s already here, and we’re going to make it into the Salamander,” Johnson told NBC Washington. “This is like the athletic and entertainment corridor of Washington, D.C.”
Johnson’s flagship resort in Middleburg, Virginia is about 50 miles away from D.C., and is a part of a bigger vision to curate a “town and country” synergy between the two properties. Visitors would essentially be able to choose between the two aesthetics of quiet, country living, and that of a robust city life. In Virginia you could find yourself engaging in activities such as horseback riding and wine tasting, while in D.C. you’ve got the National Mall and Audi Field at your doorstep.
The $140 million dollar purchase was made with the help of Johnson’s private equity firm partner, Henderson Park. The Maryland Avenue property boasting 373 luxury rooms is the latest high profile hotel deal following the Trump International being rebranded as a Waldorf Astoria.
This is a great undertaking for Johnson who is also the co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, and a managing partner of the Washington Mystics, Wizards, and Capitals. Having lived near the Wharf for several years, this purchase also holds personal significance for the Black woman billionaire.
According to Salamander Resorts president, Prem Devadas, the transformation will occur little by little in stages.
“Everything from the staffing for the new Salamander to changing the signage and all of the amenities in the guest rooms. But there’s so much more to come, and the team is really excited about the transformation that’s taking place,” Devadas told local reporters.
As for Johnson, she wants this purchase not to just feel like a win for her and her team, but her hope is that it will open more doors for the success of other Black women business owners in the district.
“From the moment we opened the doors in Middleburg, when there were so many naysayers and there was so much that I went through, this is just the beginning,” says Johnson. “We’re gonna grow this company, and we always strive for excellence, because that’s what the Salamander is.”