On Valentine’s Day, couples return to a restored Cavalier Hotel to renew vows

Collin and Courtney Kelly from Virginia Beach at the Cavalier Hotel's Valentine's Day event in 2018.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — 85 rooms at the restored Cavalier are filled with winners of a letter contest describing their stay in past years at the Cavalier Hotel, and what the grand hotel meant to them.

They are all guests of developer Bruce Thompson and his partners celebrating a restoration of historic proportions. They all will renew their wedding vows officiated by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.

Bruce Thompson entertained the guests Wednesday night as they showed up and took time to say what all this means, before the hotel officially opens to the public March 7.

“It is surreal. It feels like it possibly could have been 1927 as the hustle and bustle of the lobby, and the high anticipation of what was going to take place during the course of the day and evening.”

Thompson also stood with Beverly Wright, “I think Beverly is one of the greatest love stories we have out of the 85 love stories we have here today.”

Wright worked at the Cavalier and met her husband to be, who was a piano player at the Cavalier Beach Club, “I was 18 years old. I was newly graduated from high school, and then I came to the Beach Club to work in the concession stand…and behind me was the band stand…I met the piano player, and we fell in love. Two and a half years later we were married, and 50 years later we had our 50th anniversary right here at the hotel.”

Stephan and Kate Michaels, who live in Virginia Beach, stayed at the hotel the last night it was open before it closed for sale and then the restoration that was to follow.

“We were here the last night they had guests… and we were in the same room…This has the new car smell. It smells a lot better,” Stephan said.

Kate adds: “all the furniture and everything has been redone. It’s fun to see tradition to come together with this modern touch. It is just elegant and speaks the class of the time, the era, but adds the modern feel.”

Collin and Courtney Kelly from Virginia Beach are thrilled to be back at the Cavalier. “We were the last couple for weddings, and to see all the happenings here. It is an amazing change,” Collin said as he sat in front of the roaring fire in The Hunt Room. “It has a quaint feeling…this is a total transformation. It is gorgeous. They have done so much to it, the detail work is phenomenal, to preserve everything, to create a new atmosphere is pretty wild.”

Jack and Jessica Miller from Isle of Wight County are also here to stay the night like the 85 others, to renew their wedding vows, to eat and drink and to dance to midnight with the sounds of the big bands that played back in 1927 when the hotel first opened.

“I don’t think it was filled with water when we were here. It was falling apart to be honest with you,” Jack said as he stood in front of the renovated pool, which features water coming out of lions’ mouths.

“You can’t really compare it from what it is now to what it was then. I’m sure at one point it was great, but it definitely needed to be refurbished, and they have done a tremendous job,” Jack added.

Beverly read from the letter that caught the eye of Bruce Thompson’s selection committee to decide who would spend a complimentary night remembering the old and getting ready for the new, “So Cavalier Beach Club, I remember you. You’re the one who made my dreams come true with a few kisses. Thanks for the memory.”

Public tours of the restored Cavalier begin Friday and the hotel opens for business. March 7.