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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Virginia: Wytheville is a meeting center at the crossroads

Courtesy Wytheville CVB

Wytheville might be a small town, but it’s a big destination. “People travel here from a distance because there are lots of see’s and do’s,” said Rosa Lee Jude, director of the Wytheville Convention and Visitors Bureau. “And, in recent years, it’s become a destination for meetings and conferences.”

Credit goes partly to the Wytheville Meeting Center, which opened in 2007.

With 9,000 square feet of meeting space, its Evansham ballroom holds 1,000 theater-style and 500 at banquet rounds. Planners can also opt to divide the room into two or three spaces, but they may wish to book a section with a mountain view.

Wytheville is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, an hour from Roanoke and Bristol. Whether planners choose a room with a view or not, attendees can always break for a meal or function on the outdoor terrace.

The center sports workstations, where clients can plug in laptops to check e-mail or work between sessions. There are also wireless hotspots throughout the building.

Built by the town, the facility also houses a 60,000-square foot athletic complex with a six-lane swimming pool, climbing walls and a 650-foot indoor walking track with mountain views. The recreation facility is available for groups who want to do team-building activities.

Since its opening, the center has been joined by two hotels: the 56-room Comfort Suites and the 61-room Country Inn and Suites.

In all, there are about 1,500 sleeping rooms in the area; 1,200 of which are within a mile of the meeting center. There are also about 60 restaurants.

Wytheville sits at the intersection of Interstates 77 and 81, and it’s easily accessible from other points in Virginia, as well as West Virginia and North Carolina.

“We’ve held a 12-state conference that brought people from up and down the East Coast,” Jude said. “But most the meetings are state oriented, or they draw from states around us.”

The bulk of the business comes from state agencies or groups looking to hold regional meetings, primarily for training purposes.

Outside of the meetings, guests can enjoy an evening at the Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre, where musical productions are accompanied by a four-course meal. They can climb the Big Walker Lookout Tower, navigate the Fort Chiswell Animal Park or tour historic mansions and museums sprinkled throughout town.

There is no shortage of venues for both off-site events and excursions; attractions include an Indian village, wineries, a gem mine and a pioneer town.

In addition to being director of the CVB, Jude is director of the meeting center, which makes her doubly helpful to meeting planners. “We can help with all the planners’ needs, from getting bids for room blocks to organizing outside activities or spouse tours,” she said. “We make the contacts for them and make it as seamless as we can. We understand what they need, and we can make good matches.”