A Salamander in the GINNdom Signals a New Era

Salamander Hotels & Resorts introduced themselves at a special event at the Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast; a bit of an upgrade from the email announcing the arrival of their predecessors.

Palm Coast, FL – October 28, 2011 – Middleburg, Va.-based Salamander Hotels & Resorts introduced themselves to invited guests at a special "under the tent" event at the Hammock Beach Resort last evening. Salamander took over operations of the Hammock Beach and Reunion resorts yesterday. They have joined resort owner Lubert-Adler by taking an equity position in the resorts.
Hammock Beach - from SalamanderLubert-Adler and Bobby Ginn developed the Hammock Beach and Reunion. Ginn-LA had several other luxury golf communities planned or under construction carrying the Ginn brand when the real estate bubble popped.  Facing several legal and financial challenges, the Lubert-Adler/Ginn team began to fade, eventually ending with Bobby’s departure and the removal of the Ginn brand from the projects. While the other projects faced severe challenges, the two amenity-rich resorts remained viable.
LA filled the void left by Bobby’s departure, bringing in outsiders to manage the various projects. Noble Investment Group and a Reynolds Plantation subsidiary took over hospitality and club operations at the resorts under management contracts. When Reynolds faced mounting financial problems of their own, key executives departed the company to form Front Door Communities. Front Door assumed Reynolds operational role with LA.

Salamander replaces Noble and Front Door at the two resorts; not under a management contract but as partners. Salamander has taken an equity position in the resorts. However, Front Door will remain to run the real estate sales efforts and to work with LA to evaluate future development opportunities at The Gardens, Bulow Creek and Josè Park.
Sheila Johnson head shot - SalamanderLast evening’s event was about Salamander and the resorts. Lubert-Adler executives were present, mingling with guests, but did not make a presentation. Salamander’s founder and CEO, Sheila Johnson (at right), was the main event. Following her introduction by Salamander president, Prem Devadas, Johnson spoke of her career path which began as a concert musician and instructor, then led to the entertainment industry where she founded the highly successful BET television network. Her most recent metamorphosis resulted in her venture into the hospitality industry and the founding of Salamander. Johnson emphasized the company’s success at Innisbrook near Tampa which, like Hammock Beach and Reunion,  is a golf-centric condo hotel. She also highlighted the quality of the other properties currently under management or development by the company.
It was an impressive event, especially when juxtaposed with the email announcing the arrival of Salamander’s predecessors. Ginn-LA has always been short on communications. Salamander has ambitious plans for what they are calling their Grand Golf Resorts of Florida and the Legends of Golf Trail.
Salamander does not have a long track record, something pointed out to me by more than one guest. I also heard a few once burned/twice shy conditioned skeptics say, "I’ve heard that story before." But generally the guests, myself included, looked beyond Salamander’s brief history to Johnson’s long string of successes for their optimism about the future of Hammock Beach. Hammock Beach’s future is important to more than its property owners and members. It is important to Palm Coast too.
4 replies
  1. John Boy
    John Boy says:


    Would not take this company seriously simply because of it’s name. Snake in the Grass or Skunk would be more favorable.

    If this is the best that a company can do, then it’s not long to be in business. The name, image, etc. goes along way in business. This issort of discussing and IMHO simply shows the true ethics, quality and foresight of the owners. She was right next to the beach last night, too bad she didn’t crawl into the ocean.

  2. Larry Gavrich
    Larry Gavrich says:

    And deep pockets too

    Ms. Johnson is the ex-wife of Robert Johnson, one of the richest people in the U.S. by virtue of his (and Mrs. J’s) sale of the BET Network to Viacom. Her net worth was estimated a few years ago to be in the $400 million proximity, and her bio implies she does not like to fail at anything. Her involvement with Hammock can only be good news for owners and the Palm Coast.

  3. Toby
    Toby says:

    Reply to FRANK

    Among the possible outcomes, I think Salamander has a better chance of obtaining a successful outcome than the present management structure. They clearly have money behind them, plus their timing is good. I really think the market is showing signs of moving upward. Reunion has long-standing problems though, and I think Lubert-Adler will end up bringing more money to the table before a turnaround is evident.

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