The Cavalier Hotel Reopens

After An $80 Million Makeover, The Historic Hotel On The Hill Is Set To Offer Guests The Epitome Of Style, Substance And Five-Star Service

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Each guest room is a luxurious and subtlely whimsical mix of clean, contemporary lines and curvy arabesques punctuated with distinctly contemporary art that nods to the past. Lavishness bubbles just below the surface of design restraint. The six “Legacy Suites”—one per floor—represent a dramatic departure in that each was named after and appointed by one of the Cavalier Associates who had free reign over the interior design. Historic photographs of some of the hotel’s most famous guests, including 10 presidents and celebrities such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, grace the corridors between rooms as well as other public spaces.

The gracious baths are clad in sophisticated Carrara marble. Double console sinks with chrome bases and hardware and clawfoot tubs are vintage chic, while frameless oval mirrors with integrated lighting inject 21st century style. White bed and bath linens, robes, slippers and high-end bath products provide pampering at its purest.

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Legacy Suites

Helping to fashion the Cavalier as a dining destination with a broad reach are Becca, the Hunt Room and The Raleigh Room, which is referred to as the heart of the hotel. A parlor by day and a lounge by night, guests can enjoy breakfast in the morning, tea and scones in the afternoon, cocktails in the evening and board games by the fire any time of day or night. The Cavalier’s culinary program—including all banquets, catered functions, weddings and events—is the purview of Executive Chef Dan Elinan, a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York. Locally of Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront fame, Elinan earned his national and international fine dining chops in some of the world’s most sophisticated food cities.

Becca, the Hunt Room and Tarnished Truth Distillery—the only distillery fully integrated into a U.S. hotel—were redesigned by JC Schaub, formerly with Streetsense, where he did most of the work for the Cavalier, and now on his own as 5th Edition Design. According to Schaub, Becca, a nickname for Rebecca, which was Pocahontas’s Christian name, occupies the space that was the Pocahontas Room, so named for a large painting of the historic Powhatan princess. Schaub based his design on the popular garden-to-table movement explaining that, “The design of the restaurant centered on the idea of a functioning chef’s garden.” 

The focus of his design is the outdoor garden where he describes the lush functioning herb gardens as “dining rooms themselves.” Inside, overlooking the garden is the historic veranda, which brings the garden elements indoors. In contrast, the main dining room is much more intimate with dark perimeter walls played off against the historic white moldings, antiqued mirrors and white tablecloth service. “This space is very much about the food and the celebration of the herbal English garden,” Schaub notes.

Tarnished Truth Distillery, Cavalier Hotel
Tarnished Truth Distillery

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The hinge of an old boiler door is now on display in The Hunt Room.

The Hunt Room, Cavalier Hotel Virginia Beach
The Hunt Room

The Hunt Room—a Prohibition-era tavern with its renowned fireplace dismantled, repaired and rebuilt brick-by-brick—projects an entirely different vibe. According to Schaub, “This ‘room’ with its huge historic fireplace and hunting theme was, back in the hotel’s heyday, very much the spot to come and drink whiskey after a hunt. This feel and nostalgia of a communal pub was the driving design idea of the Hunt Room. Images of hunting dogs, equestrian scenes and foxes are surrounded by hunting paraphernalia and trophies. Backdropped by the functioning Tarnished Truth Distillery, the space renews the evening gathering spot with copper, walnut trim and deep forest green.”

Offering distinctive libations and a unique experience worthy of this iconic destination, Josh Canada and Andrew Yancey opened Tarnished Truth Distilling Company (what really went on at the Cavalier?). The operation includes on-premises processing, bottling, tastings and sales in handsomely designed spaces with a vintage vibe. Steel-framed blast-proof windows allow guests ample views of the copper still and vodka tower, both works of art in their own right. A retrofitted piece of the hotel’s old boiler serves as a viewing window from the Hunt Room. Tarnished Truth’s system design, including the still, mash tank, fermenters and vodka tower, is the work of Vitok. Vendome Copper & Brass Works fabricated all of the distillery’s process equipment, including the copper still and vodka tower. 

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SeaHill Spa

Virginia Beach The Cavalier Hotel pool
The renovated pool area includes a jetted hot tub and infinity edge pool.

Adjacent to the lobby on the lower level, the SeaHill Spa is the ultimate in tranquility. Designed by Retnauer Baynes Architects, the space’s 6,200 square feet of serenity features nine treatment rooms, soaking tubs, a full-service salon, a retail boutique and an ocean of marine- and even bourbon-inspired massages, body wraps, facials and more. Guests can slow down the pace in the Himalayan Salt Room, the hydrotherapy pool, sauna and steam rooms or the Serenity Lounge. Intersecting curves and natural materials in soft sea glass tones are the epitome of a pristine and soothing cocoon-like respite. 

A pair of state-of-the-art meeting rooms, pre-function space and the Crystal Ballroom join a gift shop, the Cavalier Museum and a fitness center to round out the hotel’s multiple uses, helping to insure that there is really no reason to venture off site, unless of course it is the lure of the sea just across Atlantic Avenue.

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Though long gone are the hunting preserve, lodge, manor house and more which once occupied the Cavalier parcel, the winding present-day approach to the hotel and new 2.5-story parking garage through The Cavalier Residences is nonetheless enticing. Comprising this charming gated community are over 80 homes whose coastal vernacular recalls a bygone era in accordance with the Cavalier Residences Pattern Book. Snugly situated among the native live oaks and new landscaping are brownstones, bungalows, cottages, carriage houses and estate homes ranging in size from 500 to 4,000 square feet, many with ocean views. The appealing neighborhood is woven together by brick paver-lined pedestrian walkways, alleyways and streets named after jazz and big band performers who frequented the Old Beach Club.

But if you can’t live here, you will want to stay here. Or, at the very least, dine, drink and indulge here … often. Prepare to fall in love with the Cavalier Hotel all over again.

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