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Virginia Beach Area Features

The Cavalier Hotel

  By: Jacquelyn Eurice
Photo Credit:

While traveling along the coast on Atlantic Avenue, visitors to Virginia Beach will undoubtedly notice the large stunning building on a hilltop—the historic Cavalier Hotel. Built in 1927, this hotel in the oceanfront’s north end was a premier vacation destination for movie stars, ten U.S. presidents, and other affluent members of society. After an extensive renovation and with much anticipation, the Cavalier opens again this fall with modern conveniences intertwined with the original opulence of yesteryear.

In 2013, Cavalier Associates, LLC with partner Gold Key|PHR purchased the property, added it to the National Register of Historic Places, and completely restored and remodeled the hotel to its original grandeur. The façade and the front gardens have remained unchanged, retaining their unique historic charm. The interior was rebuilt to combine the appeal of the hotel’s past with desired modern amenities. Ultimately, the Cavalier will become part of the Marriott Autograph Collection, a luxury 5-star resort with 85 rooms and suites, pool, and a spa. Décor including phonographs and other antiques will transport guests back to the time when the hotel was at its most glamorous. There will also be a version of the storied Hunt Room in addition to a distillery and still house. Kentucky bourbon will be blended, aged and bottled while vodka is distilled in a small barrelhouse on the grounds. Guests will be able to sample the spirits and even purchase a bottle if they like.

When it was constructed in the first quarter of the 20th century, the Cavalier became instrumental in putting Virginia Beach on the map. With an abutting train station, transportation flowed directly from Chicago and the Midwest to the Cavalier. It was THE getaway resort for thousands of vacationers and had every luxury of the time. Often, hotel employees and staff outnumbered guests—even when the hotel was operating at full capacity. There was an in-house photographer, a stockbroker with live ticker-tape feeds from Wall Street, and a fleet of limos that were sometimes used to take guests to a local speakeasy during Prohibition. Guests were treated to filtered ocean water in the pools, and even the bathtubs had an extra spigot through which seawater flowed for those who enjoyed what was thought of as an extravagant method of bathing.

Historic moments in the making were commonplace at this resort. After Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic and arrived in Paris, the first American offer of congratulations he received was radioed from the hotel’s broadcast center. During WWII, the Cavalier was completely taken over by the U.S. Navy to train sailors to use radar equipment before they were deployed. Icons including Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Adolph Coors walked the Cavalier’s halls back in its heyday. There are many other stories that make the Cavalier a historic destination in Virginia Beach. The past resonates through the hotel’s corridors and provides the foundation onto which its future is built, so that new guests can create their own stories.

Fortunately, Virginia Beach guests will once again be able to vacation in the glamour of the Cavalier. They’ll relax and unwind by the pool, feel and smell the salt air, and reward themselves with a therapeutic spa treatment. They’ll dine extravagantly on some of Virginia’s best cuisine at Becca, the hotel’s restaurant, before retreating to their plush rooms… Most importantly, the history of this grand hotel will be evident to all who visit—and history will continue to be made at the Cavalier.

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