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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

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The Fortieth anniversary of the official state tourism slogan, Virginia is for Lovers, seemed a good enough reason to visit the Cavalier State. Choosing Richmond for a short but sweet encounter was easy with all it had to offer – dogwood blossoms, the largest collection of Faberge outside Russia at VMFA, and Poe bicentennial celebrated by his museum. A closer look at the 400-year-old state capital revealed so much more... The Jefferson Hotel in the heart of the city is a destination on its own. Built in 1895, lovingly restored and renovated over a century, it is full of stately splendor, modern conveniences, and that legendary Southern hospitality we were lucky to experience first hand. Walking trough the two-story atrium leading to the grand staircase, and framed by massive marbleized columns under the Tiffany dome, it was easy to imagine the Belle Époque crowd that used to stay here on the way from Washington to Miami. Where silk-and-lace clad ladies used to make their way to a tea parlor, while gentlemen smoked their cigars in the Palm Court and the Rotunda, only slight foot impressions are now left on the marble floor in front of the former registration desk… A fun fact hotel staff loves to bring up – on their way back from Florida to the North, posh visitors, sometimes burdened by their newly acquired pet alligators, dumped poor animals in the Palm Court pool. The hospitable hotel kept them until the last one died of natural causes in 1948. The pool was removed since, perhaps, to avoid temptation, but a few years ago a luxurious swimming pool was opened, along with an outdoor sundeck and a fully equipped health club, adding to the list of complimentary services, like in-room Wi-Fi and downtown transportation for all hotel guests. A member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts Worldwide and Historic Hotels of America, The Jefferson is a Mobil Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond hotel, named “Best in America” by Forbes (all for a good reason). Privatly owned, it offers a wide range of rates and packages to accommodate grand weddings and elegant rehearsal dinners, sizeable business meetings (26,000 square feet of function space) and intmate romantic getaways. It’s Presidential Suite used to host a dozen of American Presidents, including Barak Obama. On the hundred-something-strong list of hote’s famous guests are Madeline Albright, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev; Bernard Shaw, Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein; a constellation of rock and movie stars; Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jerry Seinfeld… and you can, too. With 262 rooms, 36 suites, and newly renovated award-winning restaurants on premises, The Jefferson has a place to stay and things to do for all kinds of travelers. (For information and reservations visit
Photography by Yuri Krasov. 1. Carrara marble statue of Thomas Jefferson in the hotel atrium. 2. Amber hues awash visitors at the entrance. 3. Grand Ballroom chandeliers. 4. With Rick Butts of The Jefferson Hotel. (His similarity to a certain Founding Father is uncanny, ain't it?)


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