Virginia Beach is more than its namesake beaches. The coastal Virginia city is also home to a LEED Gold certified convention center and unique meeting venues with history.
Of course, it’s hard to ignore Virginia Beach’s comfortable climate and 35 miles of shoreline. Luxury hotels with oceanfront views dot the coast, including the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront (289 rooms), the newly renovated Sheraton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel (214 rooms), and Oceanaire Resort Hotel (189 rooms). All three offer rooftop or beach-facing event spaces in addition to more traditional ballroom spaces. The Oceanaire, for example, has a 10th floor sun deck overlooking the beach that works for both casual daytime receptions and cocktail hour at night. The oceanfront suites share a similar view, including a balcony; indoors, two flat-screen televisions, a jetted tub, and full kitchen provide additional comfort.
If you choose to meet inland, a short shuttle ride can take attendees from their hotel to the Virginia Beach Convention Center, the first convention center in the country to receive a LEED Gold certification for existing buildings. The facility has a 150,000-square-footcolumn-free exhibit hall, a 31,000-square-footballroom, and 26 meeting rooms (including one with an observation deck), totaling more than 500,000 square feet of meeting space. Sustainability is a clear focus in every aspect of the building, from the natural lighting to the wood accents, and even in the fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs that the catering staff grows in 12 4-foot-by-8-foot beds right in the backyard. The convention center is also easily accessible: Of the more than 12,000 hotel rooms in Virginia Beach, 3,500 are within 2.5 miles of the building.
For more non-traditional meetings, Virginia Beach also offers space in unexpected venues. Attendees can mingle among the wildlife at a reception at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, which can accommodate groups as small as 15 or as large as 1,500, or listen to a keynote in theater seating at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 2007 and seats 1,300. Planners can also incorporate some of Virginia Beach’s past into a program by hosting events at historical structures like the hilltop Cavalier Hotel, which once played host to seven U.S. presidents since opening in 1927 (though isn’t open to overnight guests at the moment).
Though more than 94 percent of Virginia Beach’s visitors arrive by car, Norfolk International Airport is a 20-minute drive from the oceanfront, and there is also Amtrak and Greyhound accessibility in nearby Norfolk and Newport News.