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Virginia Beach Area Features

The Cavalier Hotel

  By: Jacquelyn Eurice
Photo Credit:

A Blend of Classic Elegance and Contemporary Luxury

The “Grande Dame” of the Virginia Beach oceanfront, The Cavalier hotel, began welcoming guests in 1927 to behold the opulence contained within its walls. From across the nation, people boarded a train called the Cavalier in anticipation of reaching its namesake destination. Every luxury was available and entertainment was easily at hand. Celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Will Rogers, Bob Hope and Judy Garland graced the halls and danced to the sounds of the big bands led by Cab Calloway and Benny Goodman. All ten U.S. presidents who were in office from 1923 to 1981 (Calvin Coolidge to Jimmy Carter) have been guests of The Cavalier and probably enjoyed the iconic Hunt Room—a gentleman’s club where the chef would prepare game from the day’s hunt. Indeed, hunting and equestrian activities were available at the hotel and guests could even bring their own dogs and keep them in their rooms.

Throughout the years, The Cavalier has seen numerous changes. Its radio system took part in congratulating Charles Lindbergh after the first trans-Atlantic flight. During WWII, the Navy occupied the hotel and served as a training school for radar technicians. In later years, the esteemed hotel fell into disrepair and its future was bleak.

With the efforts of many individuals, Gold Key | PHR, The Cavalier Associates, and the City of Virginia Beach, The Cavalier was fortunately saved from near demolition. The task to rebuild and restore her was not an easy one and the cost was enormous. However, every effort was made to keep the historic grandeur of the hotel in place. Many of the decorative flourishes such as the porticos and windows were salvaged and meticulously reconditioned. Every brick of the original fireplace in the Hunt Room was removed and later replaced in its same spot after necessary repairs were complete. More space was added to the guestrooms so there are now 85 rooms instead of the original 195.

After 4 long years, the Cavalier finally reopened in March 2018 to the great joy of many in Virginia Beach. Stellar service starts at the hotel’s driveway where the red carpet is rolled out and valets greet guests with warm smiles. Upon entering, guests proceed into the Grand Lobby, which is graced with high ceilings and crystal chandeliers. Private areas are off to the side where guests can check into the hotel in comfort. As visitors proceed to their rooms, they’ll notice photos and stories of famous guests gracing the hallways—an homage to the hotel’s historic past. Inside the rooms, clean, soft beds, robes, slippers and even a turndown chocolate welcome weary travelers. The immaculate bathrooms include spacious showers with multiple heads including a rainfall nozzle. Some of the suites are furnished with claw-foot bathtubs for a relaxing soak in a bubble bath.

Plenty of activities are available at The Cavalier as well. The indoor saline “Plunge” infinity pool showcases the crest of The Cavalier beneath its glistening turquoise waters. After a workout at the state-of-the-art fitness center, let your muscles unwind at the SeaHill Spa. In addition to beauty and massage treatments, the spa also has deep tubs for soaking and a sauna featuring pink Himalayan salt on its walls. Outdoors, guests can participate in a game of croquet, stroll the gorgeous gardens and, of course, go to the beach. The Cavalier will eventually open its Beach Club with a private beach, cabanas, an infinity swimming pool, a bar for a refreshing daiquiri and much more.

Guests of The Cavalier have wonderful dining options after a full day of enjoying the hotel’s grandeur and the entertainment in Virginia Beach. Join other visitors in the Raleigh Room to unwind and socialize for happy hour. Order a classic cocktail—maybe an old fashioned—and mingle with others as live music gently plays on the room’s grand piano. The main restaurant, Becca, serves gourmet cuisine in an upscale, full-service setting. Frank Sinatra and other notable singers from the same era croon through the speakers, providing the appropriate backdrop to an exquisite ambiance. On the menu, guests will find expertly prepared Virginia farm-to-table foods and hand-crafted beverages.

However, the Hunt Room is perhaps the most fascinating place to have a bite and sip a cocktail. Today, women are most certainly welcome in this room though the décor recalls a time when it was for men only. Tufted leather couches that are the color of molasses are arranged around the original fireplace. Unloaded rifles are held in cases, reminding guests of the hotel’s fox hunting days. Even the cast iron portal to the hotel’s old boiler system from 1926 has been preserved, but instead of being the gateway to the hotel’s coal-based heat source, it is now a window to the distilling process. It’s in the Hunt Room where Tarnished Truth Distilling Company makes bourbon, rye whiskey, and vodka that can be tasted.  The bartenders incorporate these liquors very nicely into custom cocktails.

The Cavalier has painstakingly kept the history of the hotel alive with precision refurbishments and vintage-style décor. As guests walk through this stunning hotel, they may be reminded of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. After all, it’s been said that he wrote part of the book while staying here. However, the developers also seamlessly blended modern conveniences into the hotel’s history. With approximately $85 million spent in renovations, The Cavalier—now part of the Marriott’s Autograph Collection—is set to be the crown jewel of the East Coast.

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