Salamander Resorts buys DC’s Mandarin Oriental hotel as part of company-wide transformation – NBC4 Washington

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Sheila Johnson, Founder and CEO of Salamander Resorts, recently fulfilled a long-held dream of expanding her resort portfolio in Southwest DC with the purchase of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Johnson’s current flagship resort is in Middleburg, Va., about 50 miles from DC. Her purchase of the Mandarin is part of a transformation the billionaire businesswoman hopes to bring to Salamander.

“It’s such a strong base that’s already there, and we’re going to make it the Salamander,” Johnson said. “It’s like the sports and entertainment corridor of Washington, DC”

To buy the Mandarin, Johnson has teamed up with its Middleburg resort town with London-based private equity firm Henderson Park for a $140 million deal. The 373-room hotel on Maryland Avenue is the latest high-profile hotel offering in DC, following the renaming of the former Trump International Hotel to the Waldorf Astoria.

This purchase means a lot to Johnson, who is also the co-founder of Black Entertainment Television and current managing partner of the Washington Mystics, Wizards and Capitals. Having lived near the wharf for several years, she seeks to expand Salamander to DC, a city with personal meaning.

With this purchase, Johnson and his team at Salamander aim to capitalize on what they call a “town and country synergy” between the two sites. Their goal is to combine the charming horseback riding and wine tasting activities offered in Middleburg with urban elements on the Maryland Avenue property, such as potential lineup with the National Mall and Audi Field.

Salamander President Prem Devadas said work on Salamander DC should take place over the next few months. The hotel will operate as usual as upgrades are made to the courtyard, spa, fitness center, pool, lounge and restaurant.

“Everything from staffing the new Salamander to changing signage and all in-room amenities, but there’s so much more to come, and the team is really excited about the transformation underway,” said said Devadas.

These developments hold even greater significance for Johnson as she makes way for more black women-owned businesses in the district.

“From the moment we opened the doors in Middleburg, when there were so many haters and so many things I’ve been through, that’s just the beginning. We’re going to grow this business and we’re always aiming for the excellence, because that’s what the salamander stands for,” Johnson said.

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