Facing the threat of foreclosure, the acclaimed Woodlands Inn in Summerville has slipped back into the deep pockets of its previous owner.
A hospitality firm owned by Virginia billionaire Sheila C. Johnson recently reclaimed its full interest in the tony getaway from a company led by Charleston attorney and Flowertown resident Johnny Linton.
Linton's Summerville Inns of Grandeur LLC bought the high-end lodging and dining spot to much fanfare less than 18 months ago from Johnson's Salamander Hotels and Resorts.
Most of the financial details from the September 2010 sale were not disclosed, but Linton's family-owned business paid slightly more than $2 million for the real estate, property records show.
Johnson helped finance the deal, and her firm retained a minority stake in Woodlands. Also, her resort management business continued to run the top-rated inn and dining room.
The company said in a written statement provided Wednesday that Summerville Inns of Grandeur voluntarily relinquished the deed to Woodlands on Dec. 22 to avoid letting the property fall into foreclosure.
Middleburg, Va.-based Salamander declined to say how much Linton's company owed it from the sale, and no lawsuit was ever filed.
Day-to-day operations are not expected to be affected.
"Woodlands Inn continues to operate as normal, including accepting new reservations," Salamander said in its statement. "All existing reservations and bookings are being honored, and there has been be no impact on the guest and dining experience."
The 18-room Woodlands is housed in a former private mansion built in 1906 on what is now Parsons Road. It was opened as an upscale inn and restaurant in 1995.
The tiny getaway holds the distinction for being the only property in South Carolina that holds both the Forbes Five Star and the AAA Five Diamond ratings in the accommodations and dining categories, which it has retained for six straight years under Salamander.
Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, bought the resort in 2006 and embarked on an extensive makeover before selling to Linton's group. Asked Wednesday whether the property will be put back up for sale, Salamander spokesman Matt Owen said, "Not to my knowledge."
Talk of financial troubles at Woodlands and a possible sale of the property began to circulate in the fall. Linton did not respond to requests for comments at that time and on Wednesday from The Post and Courier.
Reach John P. McDermott at 937-5572