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updated 7/19/2005 8:35:18 PM ET 2005-07-20T00:35:18

Thinking of a place to hold a wedding or just to get engaged? It will be hard to find a more enchanting, romantic place than Cape May.

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Winter, spring, summer, and fall--the lavish 24-room Virginia Hotel is a study in tasteful opulence. One block from the beach and light years away from the daily grind, it's the perfect place to lose yourself in luxury and romance. The mid-sized inn has been fully renovated with gold mesh chandeliers, voluptuous crystal sconces, and exquisite gold and pink wall coverings. Red wooden doors welcome you to your extremely comfortable room appointed with a plump yet firm, down-enhanced bed--just perfect for playing, relaxing and dreaming. Robes in the closet and Bulgari amenities in every room make it clear that this inn is determined to please the most discerning guest. Two rooms have Jacuzzis, several have porches. All have power showers.

Relax and enjoy, but if you do indulge in that afternoon siesta, you will want to pry yourself away for at least one meal in the very worthwhile Ebbitt Room restaurant. The decadence doesn't stop. Wine is served in delicate crystal goblets and the service is impeccable. Start with oysters topped with caviar and champagne granite and continue with tender short ribs or sea bass. By all means, save room for the chocolate truffle dessert.

After dinner, retire to the piano lounge. Sip a Hennessy or Port by the fire while the outstanding pianist Steve plays classics and jazz on the grand piano. Or relax in your room, equipped with a flat screen TV. Of course, you can do both!

In the morning, you have the option of dining on the porch, in the parlor or having breakfast brought up to your room, at whatever time you desire. The only thing bad about the Virginia Hotel is leaving.

Congress Hall across the street by the beach is the sister property of the Virginia Hotel, and it's the Grand Dame of Cape May. The authentic and elegant yet family-friendly Congress Hall Hotel is a must to visit—even if you aren't sleeping there. But if you are sleeping there….ahhh. The rooms are bright and spacious and you'll find the same luxuriously appointed-beds--comfortable and inviting with down pillows, comforters and the finest Frette linens. Aveda bath products fill the bathroom with soothing scents for the body and soul.

The hallway floors are charmingly uneven, attesting to the Hotel's place in the Registry of Historic Places. Your elegant yet casually beachy room might have a window seat on which to relax and watch the waves or read a book.

Congress Hall Hotel has many fine shops, restaurants and the unparalleled Cape May Spa. After a run on the strand or a workout in the fitness room, lose yourself in the capable hands of the Cape May Spa massage therapists. It's hard to imagine a greater pleasure than a full hour of pampering with Aveda lavender oils and hot stones.

All that relaxing can really work up your appetite. Look no further than the Blue Pig Tavern, famous for its Blue Pig Martini and pear and goat-cheese stuffed Pork Chop. Much the same as it looked at the turn of the last century, the cheery room features pink wood panel walls and a painting of a blue big above the wood-burning fireplace.

No visit to Cape May is complete without a stroll on the beach and a jaunt through the many charming shops. Rare is the visitor who resists at least a taste of fudge or famous New Jersey taffy. And a drive past the Victorian homes of Cape May, spread out in a rainbow of colors and layer cake shapes, will warm even the most cynical heart.

Cape May Guide

Virginia Hotel
25 Jackson Street
Cape May, NJ 08204
609-884-5700
800-732-4236
www.virginiahotel.com

Congress Hall
251 Beach Avenue
Cape May, NJ 08204
609-884-6565
888-944-1816
www.congresshall.com

Cape May Day Spa @Congress Hall
609-898-1003; www.capemaydayspa.com

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