The Cavalier

On April 4-9, 1927, a grand ceremonious opening for The Cavalier was held. The The Ben Bernie Band who played for the festivities, and received congratulation telegrams from Soppie Tucker and Al Jolson. Around the same time, the Norfolk & Western Railroad new gasoline powered train named "The Cavalier" took its maiden voyage down its run from Cleveland to Norfolk. Its motto was, "The Cavalier to The Cavalier". 
The hotel provides the public with little information about its history. Our team researches the hotel's past, from the very beginning, verifying its exact opening date and providing an overview of its history up to the present day.?If you have any useful information and would like to share it, please send it to [email protected]?Thank you This is what we know so far (attention: unverified history!): The Cavalier-so named after local residents chose the moniker in a newspaper contest-opened in 1927, like so many of the country's grande dame hotels. The original colonial-style hilltop structure overlooking the beach catered to well-to-do clientele arriving by Pullman car to the Cavalier's own rail stop. During World War II the U.S. Navy took the hotel over for use as a radar training school, herding sailors into cleaned out stables and conducting classes in the drained swimming pool. Set on 18 landscaped acres of gardens and private beach, the Cavalier even has a "sunshine guarantee" (if a no sun day occurs during a guest's stay in June, July or August, they will receive a gift certificate for a future stay). It was 1926. The days of the Charleston, Calvin Coolidge, and The Cavalier. The roaring 20s were well underway when the idea came about for an unsurpassable resort to be built on beautiful Virginia Beach. As strong financial backing helped the idea become reality, the local newspaper ran a contest to name the new hotel. The names were narrowed down to the Algonquin, the Linkhorn, the Crystal, the Sea Pine, and The Cavalier. On March 5, 1926, The Cavalier prevailed as the official name, and the clearing of the land for the hotel and adjoining 18 hole golf course continued. Months later, on May 9, Mayor Tyler of Norfolk spoke at the ground breaking, setting in place the corner stone of The Cavalier. It took 13 months of steady labor to build the hotel. At times, there were as many as 225 men on the job. But in all that construction, there was not a single casualty. The building was constructed of cement-covered steel, making it fireproof before the term "fireproof" was even invented. The men then laid in place more than half a million bricks. At the time, it was the most bricks ever used in a single building in the state of Virginia. When the Cavalier Golf Course was completed, it was 6060 yards in all, with some holes modeled after the famous North Berwick and St. Andrews in Scotland, and Chicago's golf club at Fox Chapel. A beautiful sunken garden was planted on the South Side of The Cavalier. Its flowers were used to decorate each guest's room, as well as the dining room and lobby. In all, The Cavalier originally consisted of 195 guest rooms and 350 acres (290 acres of golf course and 60 acres of hotel property) Even from the start, On April 4-9, 1927, a grand ceremonious opening for The Cavalier was held. The The Ben Bernie Band who played for the festivities, and received congratulation telegrams from Soppie Tucker and Al Jolson. Around the same time, the Norfolk & Western Railroad new gasoline powered train named "The Cavalier" took its maiden voyage down its run from Cleveland to Norfolk. Its motto was, "The Cavalier to The Cavalier". More mid-Westerners flocked to Virginia Beach in June when a Norfolk & Western Pullman coach began nonstop travel from Chicago to The Cavalier's private depot. The Cavalier's armada of limousines would also pickup guests from the steamship lines and railroad stations and bring them to the hotel. During the Prohibition, these same limos were used in the evening to take guests for a little discreet gambling and drinking at the sedate clubs nearby...The Links, the Dunes, and the Gables. On ground, The Cavalier's Hunt Room served as a private men's club for hunters. Guests' hunting dogs could be kept on the hotel grounds, and fish and game caught by guests would be taken to the kitchen to be prepared for dinner. After dinner, the men could join the ladies for a dance in the ballroom, the largest hotel ballroom in Virginia to this day. The rooms had every amenity available at the time. Each bathtub at The Cavalier had a fourth handle for salt water. In 1927, many people believed that sea water was medically beneficial. Most women loved how their complexion looked and felt after a sea water bath. As for the sinks, each had an ice water spigot on it. Refrigeration as we know it today did not exist. The only way known to refrigerate then was with blocks of ice. On the roof of the hotel, a large wooden tub contained ice blocks and water. Gravity would cause the water to flow to the rooms, and cold water was achieved. The hotel's swimming pool was filled with filtered ocean water until the mid-70s. The lower lobby of the new hotel was filled with an amazing array of shops. Guests could get their hair cut, shop for dresses, purchase medicine and gifts, and get a scoop of ice cream. A doctor also kept office in the lobby, as well as a commercial photographer. However, the most unique shop in The Cavalier was a stock brokerage office which had a ticker tape directly from the New York Stock Exchange. For the guests who arrived in their Rolls Royces and Essexes, the hotel set aside a dining room off the lobby which was solely for their chauffeurs. The radio station WSEA was also located in the hotel. WSEA was the third station in America to broadcast coast to coast. And that broadcast came live from The Cavalier. On June 10, 1927, Mayor Tyler of Norfolk, radioing from WSEA, became the first American to extend radio congratulations home to Charles Lindberg. Charles heard the message as he was passing the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse on his way to Washington, D.C. after his successful solo airplane flight from New York to Paris. On Memorial Day in 1929, the Cavalier Beach Club opened for the first time, to the music of the McFarland Twins, the former saxophonists of the Fred Waring Orchestra. The club was the forerunner of all beach clubs, and none of those that followed ever overtook it or even kept pace with it. For the next three decades, The Cavalier was the largest hirer of big bands in the world. Every major big band of the time played here including: Sammy Kaye, Les Brown, Benny Goodman, Vaughn Monroe, Cab Calloway, Harry James, Jimmy Dorsey, Woody Herman, Artie Shaw, Lawrence Welk, and Glen Miller. Buddy Rodgers would play, while his wife Ginger Rogers watched from the audience. Bing Crosby also performed at the Cavalier when he was one of the Rhythm Boys. One of the worst hurricanes in Virginia Beach history tore through the Cavalier Beach Club in 1933. It was rebuilt quickly, and the dancing continued. Also opening in 1929, was the Cavalier Golf and Yacht Club. In May, the Cavalier hosted its first annual horse show. In June of that year, Adolph Coors, the founder of Coors Brewery, having turned to the production of cement, malted milk, and pottery during the Prohibition, plunged to a mysterious death from the sixth floor of The Cavalier. In the early 1930s, the resort had a staff of about 435 and the hotel could accommodate 367 guests. Even when fully occupied, there were more employees than guests. In these early days, The Cavalier followed a strict "reservation only" policy with all guests. The Cavalier had rightfully earned the nickname "Aristocrat of the Virginia Seashore", and served aristocrats from all over the country. In 1935, Sam Snead won the Virginia Open at the Cavalier Golf Course. By this time, the hotel was hailed as Virginia Beach's largest industry. We employed more people and paid more taxes than anyone else. A copy of the Pocahontas' Dining Room menu from the 30s shows the American Plan for only $1.50. This included an appetizer, soup, main entree, vegetables, salads, desserts, rolls, cheese, and beverage. How's that for inflation? On October 3, 1942, Uncle Sam told The Cavalier he wanted it, and the U.S. Navy moved in it. Until June 1, 1945, the U.S. Navy operated a Radar Training School on the Cavalier grounds. There was such a shortage of space that the stables were cleaned and then used as a living quarters for some of the sailors. During the WWII black out, curtains were placed over the ceiling glass and windows of the swimming pool area, the water was drained, and the bottom of the swimming pool was used as a classroom. Although living conditions may have been cramped, The Cavalier chefs were retained by the Navy. Those who attended the Radar Training School believe they ate better than any other naval personnel. The year following the Navy's stay, the Navy rented 130 rooms to house single officers. After the war, Pullman discontinued its rail service to The Cavalier. This was due to the widespread adoption of a new-fangled invention, the automobile. On July 1, 1953, Hank Ketchum, his wife, Alice, and his world famous son, Dennis, were guests at the hotel. Mr. Ketchum subsequently drew several "Dennis the Menace" cartoons based upon his family's stay. In 1959, the Cavalier lost one of its clay tennis courts due to the construction of Pacific Avenue. Mr. Gene Dixon Sr. and partners purchased The Cavalier at the end of that year. Two years later, Mr. Dixon became the sole owner of the hotel and it remains in the family today. Cavalier Oceanfront opened in 1973, and it was decided the original Cavalier, renamed Cavalier on the Hill, would be closed. Cavalier Oceanfront was built 11 stories high, and approximately 120 feet high. A public auction was held in 1974 selling all contents of the Cavalier on the Hill. However thanks to popular demand, Cavalier on the Hill reopened in 1976. During the 1970s, President Gerald Ford spoke at The Cavalier before the Virginia Bar Association, and President Jimmy Carter spoke before the Southern Baptist Convention. When George Bush was Ambassador to China, he also spoke here before the Virginia Bar Association. During 1990, the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for Humanities was a guest of The Cavalier. Yet another famous guest who has stayed with us in the 90s was Ann Miller. In the mid-80s, Ann played Broadway in "Sugar Babies" with Micky Rooney before taking the play to Europe. In 1992, part of the six hour NBC TV movie on the life of Jackie Kennedy was filmed in the original Cavalier on the Hill. The Cavalier of today consists of two hotels: the original, Cavalier on the Hill, and Cavalier Oceanfront, for a total of 400 guest rooms. Our Director of Guest Services, Carlos Wilson, has worked at The Cavalier for 62 years. The property spans 18 acres, as other acreage was sold off by previous owners. Gene Dixon, the owner, continues to uphold the unsurpassable reputation on which the Cavalier was built. The Cavalier features five fine restaurants: Orion's, The Pocahontas Dining Room, The Sand Dollar, The Breezeway Cafe, and The Hunt Room Grille. The resort contains a 1,500 square foot health club, ten station outdoor aerobics fitness course, numerous sport facilities, and two Olympic-size pools to name a few of the amenities. Its history continues today, tying in the old with the new. The American flag that flies over Cavalier on the Hill shows this perfect blend of past and present. It was draped over the coffin of a sailor that was here at Radar Training School in 1944. He met a Wave also stationed in the hotel, married her, raised a family, and planned to return in 1991 to celebrate their 47th anniversary. Sadly, he passed away three months before their anniversary. His widow presented us with the flag, in memory of the love that they found here at The Cavalier. Throughout its fascinating history, the Cavalier has maintained the highest standards of excellence. In 2002 the Cavalier completed a multimillion dollar restoration, and the hotel remains a landmark resort on the mid-Atlantic shore.
Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon
n.a. Rooms
Orion's Pocahontas Dining Room Sand Dollar Breezeway Cafe The Hunt Room Grille Kid's Cafe
Private beach, Indoor-, Outdoor and kiddiepool, putting green, basketball, croquet, volleyball, shuffleboard, Fitness Center, bike rental, playground, game room, pool tables,
Google Map

Our Select Member Hotel

The Cavalier
Country: USA
City: Virginia Beach
Opening date: 1927

Note from the Host

General Manager

Coordinates

Oceanfront at 42nd Street
VA 23451 USA, Virginia Beach

Tel: 1-757-425-8555, ext. 1234
Fax: 1-888-422-8725

Google Map

Book a Room

Click on the link below to start your trip (no booking fees)!