VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia — A Virginia icon, the Cavalier Hotel, will reopen its oceanfront doors this spring/summer after a massive $75 million restoration that includes nearly 3,800 square feet of meeting space.
Inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and built in 1927, the Cavalier Hotel was designed by Norfolk, Virginia-based architect Clarence Neff and became an instant landmark that is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During its heyday, the Cavalier changed the landscape and social scene of Virginia Beach’s oceanfront, playing host to 10 U.S. presidents and dozens of celebrities, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, Doris Day, Muhammad Ali and Frank Sinatra. It also was a major venue for performers in the big-band era, like Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller.
In 2014, developer Gold Key/PHR began the extensive renovation and restoration of the Marriott property overseen by Norfolk-based architecture firm Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas. The remodel will bring new life to many of the original Neoclassical features that made the Cavalier a visual oceanfront icon. Exterior details, like the pedestals and finials, the iconic-style pilasters and the portico with Classical columns, have been meticulously and respectfully restored. Much effort went into salvaging each of the original windows on the first floor and in public spaces, which required several hundred hours of work, completed mostly by hand. Inside, much of the original paneling, plaster ornamentation, terrazzo flooring and painted ceilings was also thoughtfully reconditioned to historical accuracy.
To accommodate the needs of today’s guests, many additions and modern improvements have been made, too. The original hotel design had 195 guest rooms that have been reconfigured to create the more spacious 85 standard rooms and suites that will make up the new Cavalier. Each of the suites will be individually designed with historically precise materials to reflect a famous guest or notable event from the hotel’s past.
Meeting and event space will include a 2,490-square-foot ballroom and two salon rooms that can be adjoined to create almost 1,300-square-feet of additional space.
A new distillery on-site will delight guests with a tasting room, distillery tours and the opportunity to create and distill their own barrels, as well as purchase the Cavalier’s signature bourbon, gin and vodka made on-site. The historic Raleigh Room will feature a fireplace, along with billiards, game tables, drink carts and seating along a tall and luminous back bar. Foodies will be delighted by Becca, a restaurant and garden where inspired farm-to-table fare made with local ingredients is served.