Pack Your Bags: The Rebirth of the Historic Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach
Last week, I vacationed in Virginia Beach for two nights. While I was in town, I had the pleasure of touring the newly renovated Cavalier Hotel which is scheduled to reopen it's grand doors next week on March 7, 2018.
Old Photo courtesy of the Cavalier Hotel
Some say the Cavalier Hotel is what put Virginia Beach on the map. The iconic Cavalier Hotel was constructed after Virginia Beach's Princess Anne Hotel burned down in 1907. Virginia Beach experienced rapid growth over the next 20 years and recognized a need for an even grander hotel. Virginia Beach went from a small town to a resort town in the 1920's construction boom and quickly became a can't miss destination.
At the grand opening of the magnificent Cavalier Hotel in 1927, the President of the American Hotels Corporation, General J. Leslie Kincaid, said it was "the finest resort hotel in America - and I have seen them all". The Hotel featured every amenity imaginable and left no detail to be desired. The Cavalier pool was filled with salt water and big bands with full orchestras played for the dancers well into the morning. The Hotel was funded by 1,000 stockholders and took 13 months and $2 million to build. The Hotel featured 195 guest rooms which could range between $4 and $18 per day, including three multi-course meals. The Cavalier even had offices for a Doctor, Photographer, and Stockbroker on site!
Old Photo courtesy of Coastal Magazine
The Cavalier's architecture was a nod to Jefferson's Monticello and the University of Virginia. The plaster ceiling in the Rotunda lobby was inspired by the ceiling in the Moses Myers house in Norfolk, VA. It was truly magnificent!
Old Photo courtesy of The Virginia Pilot
In 1929, the iconic Cavalier Beach Club opened to the soundtrack of the McFarland Twins. The Cavalier was the premiere venue for big band entertainment. In fact, between 1930 and 1950, the Cavalier was the largest contractor of big bands in the world. In addition to big bands, some of the best and most popular musicians performed at the Beach Club, such as Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, and Judy Garland to name a few. Other famous celebrities who were guests of the Cavalier include Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, Muhammad Ali, Bob Hope, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is said that F. Scott Fitzgerald drew inspiration for the Great Gatsby during his many long vacations at the Cavalier. In addition to the famous musicians and actors, 10 of the U.S Presidents were guests of the Cavalier Hotel. You can read more about the history HERE on the Cavalier's website.
Old Photo courtesy of the Cavalier Hotel
The Cavalier Hotel continued as a great success for 15 years until 1942 when the Hotel served the country as a radar training school for the Navy during World War II. Nearly every space in the Hotel was converted into classroom and living quarters. Hotel furnishings were removed and the pool was drained. It was said that the Hotel was so cramped, that some sailors used the stables as living quarters. According to Virginia Beach, the Hotel chefs stayed on to feed the sailors which led to boasting that the sailors ate better than any other Navy personnel.
After World War II, the Cavalier fell into disrepair. In the decades to follow, the Hotel suffered several ownership changes and cosmetic renovations that were not well-intended. A family feud between the owners, led to a court ordered sale in 2012. Cavalier Associates bought the hotel without any inspections and no contingencies in 2014. They expected the renovation to take 2 years and an estimated cost of $40 Million. However, the painstaking remodel took double the estimated time and budget, coming in at 4 years of construction and $80 Million in repairs!
The original Hotel featured 185 rooms, each 12 feet x 12 feet. They have been reconfigured to create 85 spacious and luxurious rooms and suites in the newly remodeled Hotel. Staying true to it's original architecture and beauty, the Hotel restoration brought back to life the grand lobby, keeping the original terrazzo floors and Jeffersonian-era woodworking. The lower lobby provides access to the Hunt Room, Tarnished Truth Distillery, SeaHill Spa, and Fitness Center. The indoor Plunge Pool has been completely resurfaced and restored, donning the crest of The Cavalier and retaining it's saltwater roots. The new modern farm to table restaurant, Becca, is sure to be a Virginia Beach hot spot.
Trust me, this grand Hotel is the epitome of luxury and relaxation! I will let the pictures speak for themselves!
(Warning - this post is photo heavy, but I wanted to share the full experience with you!)
The Grand Lobby
With an unchanged footprint, they were able to fully restore the Rotunda lobby entrance and it's still just as gorgeous!
Guests are welcomed into the lobby check-in with cozy red velvet chairs and old showcased vintage telephones.
Abundant Seating Areas
I loved all of the different seating areas scattered throughout the main level of the Hotel.
The Raleigh Room
The Raleigh Room is an eclectic and inviting space - perfect for enjoying afternoon tea or an evening cocktail and casual conversation.
The Indoor Plunge Pool
The restored saltwater pool is the perfect respite from the hot beach sun.
The SeaHill Spa & Fitness Center
Dining at Becca
The Hunt Room and Tarnished Truth Distillery
Access the Hunt Room and Distillery through the lower lobby.
The Rooms and Suites
The rooms and suites are luxury at it's finest. With crisp white linens, cushy velvet couches and arm chairs, and marble tiled showers and claw foot soaking tubs, you can see how easy it would be to settle in to your new home away from home.
Rates range from $330 per night for a standard room and up to $570 for an oceanfront suite when they open in the off-season this March. In the height of the season in August, rates jump to $504 for the standard room and go up to $750 for the oceanfront suite. The Cavalier is an Autograph Hotel, which means if you are a Marriott rewards member, you can use your Marriott points to book your reservation. Room rates are discounted for Marriott rewards members as well. The Hotel will be running some specials, so be sure to join their email program and be on the look-out for deals.
I really enjoyed my tour and can't wait to return to stay at the new Cavalier Hotel! I am looking forward to see what they have done with the Beach Club when it opens later this summer! The Beach Club is being reimagined to offer unrivaled amenities and will feature private cabanas, a beachside bar, infinity edge swimming pool, spa, and more. I am dreaming of the relaxation already!
The feeling of luxury in the Cavalier Hotel is timeless, crossing generations from the original grand opening in 1927 to the modern day grand re-opening next week on March 7, 2018.