The southernmost metropolitan area and arguably the most resortlike of the four coastal destinations is Virginia Beach. The city, which includes a thriving downtown business center, secluded beaches and a seaside boardwalk, is also home to the first convention center in the country to achieve LEED Gold Certification for its buildings’ sustainability. The Virginia Beach Convention Center includes 500,000 square feet of space and can host groups of virtually any size.
Virginia Beach also offers the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, a venue with seating for 1,300. The Sandler Center’s elegant three-story lobby is also an ideal space for banquets and receptions. The Virginia Aquarium is another option for larger groups seeking unusual spaces; host an intimate dinner there for 20 board members or a cocktail reception for 2,000. Guests will be hard pressed to find better entertainment than the sharks and sea turtles swimming behind floor-to-ceiling glass.
Virginia Beach has approximately 10,000 hotel rooms, and giants in the meeting industry provide many of those. Marriott, Hilton and Sheraton all have oceanfront outposts in the city with meeting space available for groups.
When looking for after-hours entertainment or dining, meeting attendees will find everything from the down-and-dirty seafood experience of Chick’s Oyster Bar to Rockefeller’s Restaurant on the oceanfront for a sophisticated night out. Perhaps the city’s best selling point, however, is its desire to see its business travelers have the opportunity to give back.
“Most tourists and visitors don’t know about our focus on sustainability,” said Sarah Hughes, a public relations account executive and spokesperson for the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
“Our program One Beach, One World offers groups the opportunity to be matched with a local or international charity,” she said. “We really are broadening the reach for groups wanting to help others.”
Spotlight on Virginia Beach
Access: Norfolk Airport; Amtrak; interstates 64 and 664.
Virginia Beach Convention Center, Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Aquarium, Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront, Cavalier Hotel, Sheraton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel
Hotel Rooms: 10,000
Chick’s Oyster Bar, Rockefeller’s, Virginia Aquarium, Funny Bone Comedy Club and Restaurant, Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach (popular concert venue)