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New equestrian resort near Charlotte not just for elite
Tryon Resort, a sprawling $100M equestrian center to open this summer in Polk County
Published Thursday, June 26, 2014 11:30 am
by Michaela L. Duckett

Sheila C. Johnson, founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, speaking June 25 at a groundbreaking celebration for the Tryon Resort, opening this summer in Mill Spring, N.C. 

A $100 million equestrian center and spa resort is opening near Charlotte this summer. Plans for the luxurious Tryon Resort, a sprawling 1,400-acre retreat located in Mill Spring off I-74, were unveiled on Wednesday. 

Upon completion, the newly announced project will boast the world-class Tryon International Equestrian Center featuring up to 10 riding arenas, 1,000 permanent stalls, stadium seating for 6,000, and elevated, shaded viewing decks and a large covered riding facility.

The resort will also include two luxury hotels, an RV park with its own clubhouse, a nature-inspired spa resort, spacious private home rentals in a gated-community, log cabin village, on-site Arnold Palmer Signature Design Golf Course, a 5,000-square-foot entertainment pavilion and a sports complex center (scheduled to open in September) with a health club, game room, sports bar, children’s playground, tennis courts, basketball court and large pool with private cabanas.

“We aim to create a destination that equestrian, leisure and group travelers from all over the world will visit,” said Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners, the developers behind the project. “Our goal is to create a special place that focuses on the passion and love for both horses and horse sport. We intend for individuals and families, whether they are participants or spectators, to enjoy a broad range of activities.”

Salamander Hotel & Resorts – the luxury hotel management company founded by Sheila Johnson, BET co-founder and part-owner of three professional sports teams in Washington – has been tapped to handle the resort’s hospitality and golfing operations.

“I have great admiration for the Bellissimo family and their vision,” Johnson told The Post during Wednesday’s unveiling. “I feel very honored that they have selected me and my company to be a partner with them in developing one of the finest hotels in North Carolina.”

Bellissimo said his vision is to create, “one of the most significant equestrian centers in the world.”

Johnson, whose company operates the Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Va., and has three golfing destinations in Florida, said that in addition to Bellissimo’s vision, she was also inspired by his commitment to exposing a wider range of people from various income levels to horses.

“I think that’s important,” she said.

“The goal here is to make it accessible and take away the elitism of the sport,” said Bellissimo. “There are so many young girls and boys who want to be around a horse but don’t have that luxury, and we want to try and change that.”

To reach his goals, Bellissimo said he plans to work with local public schools to provide more opportunities for students of all income levels to experience equestrian culture.

N.C. Secretary of Commerce Sharon Decker attended Wednesday’s unveiling. She called the project “exciting” and said it will be a major job-creating engine with a big economic impact on the area.

Tryon Resort is expected It to create hundreds of permanent jobs and contribute tens of millions of dollars to the local economy.

Ballissimo said over 500 workers have been employed since construction commenced in January.

Tryon International Equestrian Center, will host its first event July 2 – a multi-day, international-level equestrian competition in collaboration with the Tryon Riding and Hunt Club.

For more information, visit www.tryonresort.com.


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