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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Virginia’s Sweet Spot

Virginia Beach at a Glance

Location: Coastal Virginia

Access: Interstates 64 and 95 at the midpoint of the Atlantic Seaboard; 18 miles to Norfolk International Airport and Amtrak Rail Station

Hotel Rooms: More than 10,000

Contact Info:

Visit Virginia Beach


Virginia Beach Convention Center

Built: 2005–2007

Exhibit Space: 150,000 square feet, column-free

Other Meeting Spaces: 31,000-square-foot ballroom; 27 breakout rooms

Meeting Hotels

Historic Cavalier Resort — Marriott Autograph Collection

Guest Rooms: 85

Meeting Space: 9,885 square feet

Delta Hotel Virginia Beach Waterfront

Guest Rooms: 295 suites

Meeting Space: 12,257 square feet

Westin Town Center

Guest Rooms: 235

Meeting Space: 11,266 square feet

Who’s Meeting in Virginia Beach

Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment

Attendees: 700

Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs

Attendees: 200

Southern Association of College and University Business Officers

Attendees: 150

Virginia Beach is in a sweet spot. Located at the midway point on the Atlantic Seaboard, it is within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population and 20 minutes from an international airport and an Amtrak station. Its miles of beaches, including frontage on Chesapeake Bay, come alive with each sunrise. And it has an awesome celebrity greeter. That greeter is the 24-foot-tall bronze statue of King Neptune that reigns over the beachfront and is a perfect backdrop for photos taken to recall meetings here.


Destination Highlights

Beach” is the key word here, even if a business meeting is your primary reason to head for Virginia’s most populous city (approximately 450,000 in a metro region approaching 1.8 million people). The city’s landmark attraction is long, lean and sandy — a three-mile boardwalk with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and an array of restaurants, hotels, shops, parks and other diversions on the other side. Seven thousand of the city’s 10,000 hotel rooms are on or near the water.

Sally Noona, director of convention sales and marketing for the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, certainly loves the city’s natural appeal, but she says the residents make it extra special for visitors, both meeting attendees and leisure travelers.

“Virginia Beach is a community of servant hearts,” Noona said. “It is upbeat and happy to serve our visitors. That’s a pervasive feeling here. Just being around the water in this beautiful place opens people to good experiences.”

Meeting attendees can sample that hospitality individually through a digital Virginia Beach Savings Pass that delivers deals at attractions, restaurants and activities, while meeting planners can get a warm glow, too, with a “Beach Bundle” from the CVB. The “Beach Bundle” is a tiered menu of bonuses for bigger meetings (1,000 or more room nights). Bonus options include hotel-to-convention center shuttles, sponsored entertainment or rental assistance for special events.

Although the city’s fame starts with the beach, it offers much more. Noona points to the Town Center district, a walkable 17-block inland area with shopping, dining and entertainment. And she’s also keen on the ViBe Creative District, a hub of art and cultural activity that’s closer to the beach. Art, particularly colorful murals, are a ViBe hallmark. The ViBe Mural Festival, which already has funded 63 public murals, adds 10 more from national and local artists every autumn.

Distinctive Venues

Everyone will remember a reception at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. It’s not just anywhere that meeting attendees can mingle with sea turtles, great barracuda, green moray eels, harbor seals and even a Komodo dragon. Outside of the summer months, the aquarium’s tour boats can take meeting groups to commune with dolphins and sometimes even whales. Close to the beach, dining and entertainment venues such as Beachside Social and The Shack offer spaces for smaller groups to kick back and relax.

On the land side, the Sandler Performing Arts Center in Town Center is a versatile location for big receptions in its 5,000-square-foot atrium lobby, special performances in its 1,300-seat auditorium and intimate gatherings in the Miller Studio Theater (200 guests for a reception of 120 for dinner).

The Military Aviation Museum, one of the world’s largest private collections of World War I and World War II aircraft, is an unexpected event location. You can inspect a P-51 Mustang, a B-25 bomber, a Curtiss Jenny and a Sopwith Strutter and then enjoy a box lunch and conversations with pilots and mechanics who keep those planes airworthy. A super-special treat is arranging for a meeting attendee to board a vintage biplane for a flight over the beachfront.

Major Meeting Spaces

The crown jewel for meetings is the Virginia Beach Convention Center. This 500,000-square-foot facility includes 150,000 square feet of column-free exhibit space, a 31,000-square-foot ballroom and 27 breakout rooms. A big bragging point is that it was the nation’s first convention center to earn the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Gold certification for an existing building.

As big as the convention center is, it also has places for intimate gatherings in a 147-foot-tall glass and steel tower, where a 500-square-foot observation deck delivers panoramic views. The tower also has a ground level space for a 75-person reception, a boardroom that seats 21 and a VIP lounge that can accommodate 50 for a reception or 30 for a banquet.

A few miles inland, the 245-room Founders Inn and Spa in Hilton’s Tapestry Collection has more than 40,000 square feet of event space, including 23 meeting rooms, a 12,876-square-foot ballroom and a 78-seat amphitheater.

After the Meeting

Temptations to stay in this corner of Virginia abound, especially reasons of the historic kind. As Jim Coggin, tourism manager for the Virginia Beach CVB put it, “Virginia is America’s history. Everything that has happened in the U.S. has a connection here. There’s no more historic state that has shaped the U.S. than Virginia.”

A post-meeting itinerary could start right in Virginia Beach at the National Park Service’s Cape Henry Memorial, where the colonists who established the first permanent English settlement in North America landed in 1607. Today’s Jamestown Settlement attraction provides an illuminating look at life in a Colonial English fort from 1610–14. You even can try on some English armor, but be advised that it’s heavy and awkward. A sister attraction is the American Revolution Museum, where you can feel the power of cannons in the “Siege of Yorktown,” a 12-minute presentation on a curved 180-degree screen.

Nearby, Colonial Williamsburg, the world’s largest U.S. history museum, is preparing for its centennial in 2026. It offers 301 acres of the original city, 89 original buildings, 515 reconstructed buildings, lodging, restaurants and modern resort amenities colonists couldn’t imagine.

Newport News and Norfolk are two more history-laden neighbors. The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News (“America’s National Maritime Museum,” according to Congress) is loaded with model ships, nautical paintings and small watercraft from around the world. A highlight presentation explains the first battle between ironclads ships, the Civil War’s Monitor and the Merrimac.

A more serene experience is a cruise in Norfolk on the American Rover, a three-masted schooner. Its outings are on the Elizabeth River and Hampton Roads Harbor. A sister vessel, the Victory Rover, cruises you through Naval Station Norfolk to see some of America’s contemporary warships.