The Cavalier’s Spirited Rebirth

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Front facade of The Cavalier. Photo by Stephanie Green.

If you Google “The Cavalier Virginia Beach,” you are likely, interestingly, to find references to this five-star hotel being haunted.

One of the alleged ghosts, Coors Brewing Company founder Adolph Coors, leapt to his death from the hotel’s sixth floor in 1929, devastated by the effects of Prohibition.

Coors was one of the many glamorous figures to have frequented the hotel in its illustrious history, dating back to 1927. So if you do have a supernatural sighting, it’s likely to be of someone very cool.

On every floor, there are black-and-white portraits of glam-squad guests like Frank Sinatra, but, unfortunately, I never ran into Old Blue Eyes.

In fact, after spending a weekend at the Cavalier, I can safely report that the only spirits you’ll encounter are the ones flowing freely during cocktail hour in the richly ornate Raleigh Room or at the Cavalier’s in-house distillery, called Tarnished Truth.

Here you can enjoy the flagship bourbon in the tasting room with friends, thinking about how silly that whole Prohibition idea was. (Poor Adolph … if only you could see us now!)

Starting next month, Tarnished Truth begins its first Virginia Bourbon Invitational, which will feature 18 distilleries and 50 bourbons.

This year marks many new beginnings for this storied hotel. After a four-year, $85-million renovation, the Cavalier reopened in March, while still retaining its, ahem, spirited past.

And it’s back at the perfect time. More travelers have more money for weekend getaways, and that capital can filter into areas that need a little lift.To wit: Virginia Beach has suffered from a seedy reputation, but with the Cavalier’s renaissance, this beachfront destination is worth the four-hour drive.

Besides ghost hunting and drinking, you’ll also be doing a lot of heavy eating at the Cavalier. I started out in the Hunt Room, the hotel’s dark-paneled, equestrian-vibe tavern, for a Friday-night dinner. You’ll want to polish off the iceberg salad with spiced pecans and the filet mignon, laden with mushroom sauce, before you head to the tasting room.

The next morning, I enjoyed the most adorably prepared blueberry compote pancakes in the sunken gardens of Becca, the hotel’s garden-to-table restaurant, which serves all meals.

There’s also a new restaurant on the Virginia Beach dining scene, the Atlantic on Pacific, which you can walk to from the hotel while taking in the boardwalk breezes. The boardwalk is a slice of Americana, with lots of photo opportunities along the route. You’ll want to take advantage of the Cavalier’s free bike rentals.

One of the hippest feathers in the Cavalier’s cap is the new Cavalier Beach Club, with hot tub and infinity pool overlooking the ocean. A full-service bar and café creates a Miami Beach feel in this Southern oasis. Plush seating and chic umbrellas await you on the beach below.

SeaHill Spa, also with views of the Atlantic, hasn’t lost its sense of humor amid all of its luxury: its signature treatment is the Bourbon Facial, using “product” from Tarnished Truth.

Try as it might, the Cavalier just can’t seem to shake those spirits.

 

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