At age 70, Sheila C. Johnson has established a formidable résumé: cofounder of BET, owner of three professional sports teams (including the NBA’s Washington Wizards), film producer, philanthropist, and hotel group founder. The latter began with Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Virginia. “From the moment I stepped foot on the property’s 340 acres, I was inspired to build a world-class resort and spa that honored the surrounding community,” she says of the equestrian-centric retreat.

Sheila Johnson at home in Virginia.
Sheila C. Johnson at home on her farm in The Plains, Virginia. (Stacy Zarin Goldberg)

Pre-coronavirus, Johnson’s recent trips took her to London to watch her Wizards play the Knicks and to Paris with chef Patrick O’Connell to celebrate his third Michelin star. Since March, Johnson tells us she’s been spending a lot of time at her farm near Middleburg, connecting with family and taking cello lessons. Salamander Resort & Spa reopened in June, and she’s been visiting with employees and guests there. (Johnson is also one of the featured speakers at this year’s virtual Virtuoso Travel Week.)

“I have an affinity for the Caribbean and so am keen to return to Half Moon in Montego Bay, Jamaica,” Johnson says. “I’m also looking forward to traveling back to Italy. The way I travel is the way I like to describe my hotels: comfortable luxury.”

Here, nine of the items Johnson doesn’t leave home without:

  • My Loro Piana duffle bag is the most practical bag I’ve ever owned.
  • An Audemars Piguet, a gift from my son to help me keep track of time, because I’m always on the go.

Natura Bisse beauty products

  • I’ve used Natura Bissé skincare products for years; they’re hydrating and keep me looking youthful.
  • Carolina Ritzler and Loro Piana jumpsuits and two-pieces are comfortable and have a luxurious look and feel.
  • Classical music. I love listening to violinist Joshua Bell, jazz pianist Keiko Matsui, and Sergey Rachmaninoff’s symphonies. Music is a constant companion in my life.

Jo Malone perfume.

  • Jo Malone Velvet Rose & Oud perfume is a clean, fresh, lightweight scent.
  • Custom diamond stud earrings made in New York are the staple of my travel wardrobe.

Rothy's flats.

  • Rothy’s are the best travel companions for your feet because they pack well and are machine washable. No matter where I go, I love to walk!

A Sheila Johnson Collection scarf

  • A Sheila Johnson Collection The photos on the scarves are images I’ve taken during my travels, and they hold a special place in my heart.

Top Photo: Salamander Resort & Spa

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