Winter Escapes to the Watergate and the Cavalier

Those IRS refunds and tax cuts on your paycheck are trickling in. Fortunately, you don’t need to go far to treat yourself and your family to a staycation — or a vacation from the kids.

Perfect for a couple’s getaway, the Watergate Hotel has launched a Chalet Winter Wonderland in its Kingbird restaurant. Designed to evoke the feeling of a Swiss après-ski club, it comes complete with snow-covered picnic tables, a heated igloo and a fire pit for indoor cuddling,

By day, it will be a Grab & Go Chocolate Shop, with bonbons, blonde chocolate bark with banana and shaved coconut and cocoa nibs, to name a few delectables. By night, you’ll see the shop transformed into a Chocolate Bar, with spiked hot chocolate; a “chocolate mixologist” is on hand to create chocolate-infused bourbon, vodkas, whiskies and the pièce de résistance, the Death by Chocolate Bourbon.

If you haven’t collapsed into a sugar coma, I highly suggest the s’mores on the Watergate rooftop, after a round of ice skating at the new Top of the Gate rink. The melted marshmallows are worth a few busts on the ice.

For the political history buff, the famed hotel is offering a special package for Room 214, ground zero in the investigation that brought down President Richard Nixon. Affectionately known as the scandal room, it comes with an assortment of vintage accoutrements to remind guests of the turbulent “dirty tricks” era.

Those wanting to leave the sordid past behind them can be treated to some refreshing refinement with etiquette coach Maggie Oldham at her new signature tea times, Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m. I had a chance to take a workshop with Oldham over some Earl Grey last fall in the Watergate library. Her tips on modern courtesy — in this age of texting while fine dining — is something everyone, even veteran Georgetown hostesses, need.

If you’re looking to go back to an era when having tea and manners really meant something, try a weekend at the Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach, reopening March 7 after a massive four-year renovation. Originally completed in 1927, every detail of the five-star Marriott property has been revived to reflect its jazz-age heritage.

Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra and Benny Goodman are just a few of the glam squad to have breezed through the Cavalier’s Art Deco corridors.

Set on 21 acres overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the hotel’s four-columned portico and brick porte-cochère are straight out of a Fitzgerald novel, as is the grand salon or Raleigh Room, perfect for pre-dinner drinks around the central fireplace among billiard and games tables.

Maybe my favorite details, however, are the claw-foot bathtubs and monogrammed slippers — “Old School” at its best. The 62 guest rooms start at $264 a night.





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