By Jennifer N. Dienst, Contributing Editor
Meetings with a side of sun, sand, and sustainability
From unforgettable events at the Virginia Beach Convention Center to the daily reunion of sand and surf, Virginia Beach offers meeting planners a destination full of coastal charm packed with an array of unique meeting venues, attractions, and accommodations. At the center of it all is the Virginia Beach Convention Center. Immediately upon entering, visitors get a sense of the beachside setting — soaring, nautical glass walls floating in pools of water, wooden boardwalks, and porch-inspired outdoor event spaces make for anything-but-typical surroundings. And from the 10-story observation deck, visitors can view the oceanfront skyline and the Naval Air Station Oceana.
The flexible spaces of the Virginia Beach Convention Center suit not just large conventions, but smaller meetings and conferences as well. The state-of-the-art facility offers more than 500,000 square feet of total space, including a 150,000-square-foot, column-free exhibit hall and a 31,000-squarefoot ballroom for larger events; and its 26 meeting rooms, 972-square-foot VIP Lounge, and 1,026-square-foot Executive Boardroom make excellent options for meetings on a more intimate scale. The convention center also provides the latest in wired and wireless communications technologies, such as programmable LED systems for events requiring special-effects lighting in the ballroom. An expansive video wall, which encompasses four 90-by-nine-foot screens, adds an artful yet innovative presence to the ballroom's prefunction area.
For trade shows, the center's exhibit hall (divisible into four sections) features 40-foot ceilings along with 10-by-10-foot grids, which have been permanently etched into the floor to facilitate exhibit setup. Each of the four divided halls is supported by its own services, including meeting-room suites, concessions, show-management offices, storage rooms, prefunction and registration spaces, and other support areas.
Virginia Beach's ideal location combines the best of a bustling metropolitan city and a laid-back, beach lifestyle — a perfect setting for all kinds of meetings. The first convention center in the country to achieve LEED Gold certification for Existing Buildings, the Virginia Beach Convention Center has implemented a number of eco-conscious initiatives, including energy-saving lighting, HVAC systems, and recycling, composting, and conscientious F&B programs. These forward-thinking initiatives underscore how the center is leading the destination in a tireless commitment to ecological stewardship.
Finally, there's never been a better time to book — and save — in Virginia Beach. When planners book a meeting or event, the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau will extend a credit of up to $2,500 toward the group's master account at either its designated hotel or the Virginia Beach Convention Center. To qualify, new future meetings booked between April 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2013, that are actualized prior to December 2015 will receive 100-percent credit based on total, actualized room nights. Total room nights range from 150 to 1,501, and credits range from $150 to $2,500. Additionally, should a meeting or convention actualize during the months of November and December, from 2012 through 2015, or January through March, from 2013 through 2015, and book multiple years with the destination, the organization can receive up to an additional $750 bonus toward a charity of its choice or its master account.
For more information: Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau — Al Hutchinson, Vice President of Convention Sales & Marketing; (757) 385-4700 or (800) 700-7702; firstname.lastname@example.org; visitvirginiabeach.com/meetings
Virginia Beach Highlights
• Virginia Beach offers more than 12,000 hotel rooms citywide and more than 3,500 committable rooms within 2.5 miles of the convention center.
• Virginia Beach's cuisine revolves around local seafood and produce. Many of the city's nearly 300 restaurants, along with the talented F&B team at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, make it a point to use fresh, indigenous ingredients whenever possible.
• Centrally located on the East Coast, Virginia Beach is just 20 minutes from Norfolk International Airport, which offers 80 daily departures and 22 nonstop destinations, and is just 45 minutes from Newport News/ Williamsburg International Airport. Virginia Beach is a four-hour drive from Washington, D.C., and seven hours from New York City.
• Attractions in Virginia Beach are varied and plentiful. Favorites include the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Ocean Breeze Waterpark, Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Town Center, Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Grommet Island Beach Park & Playground, Military Aviation Museum, and Virginia Beach Boardwalk — to name a few.
Convention Center Specs
• More than 500,000 square feet
Total column-free exhibit space
• 150,000 square feet
Total meeting space
• 29,000 square feet
• 31,000 square feet
Number of meeting rooms
Maximum theater capacity
Maximum banquet capacity
Free parking spaces