Coastal Virginia has so much to offer visitors. It’s no wonder that people flock here to take advantage of our beaches, the area’s history, our entertainment venues, prime food choices and an amazing list of other unique things to see and do. If you’re planning on booking a meeting or corporate event here, the biggest decision you’ll need to make is where you want to begin. This guide can provide you with a few suggestions on how to get started. The first order of business is to pick a location.
Virginia Beach is an attractive choice for many because of its proximity to the ocean, as well as the famous boardwalk—a 28-foot wide marvel that stretches along 3 miles of oceanfront—fun indoor and outdoor dining options that are within walking distance of the resort area, exciting little shops and more.
“Our space is really connected to the ocean, and we’re adjacent to Neptune’s Park,” says Martha Fraser, director of sales and marketing for the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel. “We have a number of groups that come in to take advantage of the park during concert season, but we also have the ability to host dinners and receptions out there. We have some groups coming in this fall that are actually doing events on the beach where they’ll be setting up tents and we’ll bring meals out to them while they are doing teambuilding exercises like kickball and cornhole. It’s definitely a more relaxed and interactive environment than you’d find in traditional meeting spaces.”
One other advantage the Hilton VB Oceanfront offers is its exclusive Sky Bar. Located on the 21st floor of the hotel, the Sky Bar is an open-air destination with a bar, pool, lounge area and often features live music or DJs. “We have a lot of interest in holding events up on our Sky Bar pool deck,” says Fraser. “Many people enjoy doing early evening receptions out there, or they’ll just take a group up later in the evening to experience the nightclub atmosphere and have a bit of fun.”
When it comes to food, Hilton VP Oceanfront has all the bases covered. The main restaurant, Catch 31, is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner and features a full menu, raw bar, views of the ocean and outdoor seating around firepits. Their other restaurant, Salacia, is Virginia’s only AAA 4-Diamond steakhouse. “It’s a beautiful private dining room that we’re using more and more for VIP events,” says Fraser. “It’s an Oceanfront dining room that has really high-touch finishes and fixtures that people really seem to enjoy.”
To get started on your next meeting, event or banquet, contact Martha Fraser at 757-275-7780.
When setting your sites slightly north of Virginia Beach, Norfolk’s downtown area offers a plethora of dining opportunities, shopping interests and fun activities concentrated in a very walkable area. It also provides a superbly unique opportunity to tour an actual battleship.
Your seafaring experience starts at Nauticus—a facility dedicated to the power of the sea. “The facility is broken up into three divisions: Nautical Power, Natural Power and Naval Power,” says Shelia Harrison, director of marketing for Nauticus featuring the Battleship Wisconsin. “The first section is dedicated to the Nautical Power of the Sea, which is about shipbuilding and how waterways are used to transport shipped goods. The second section is about the Naval Power of the Sea, which is where the connection with the Battleship Wisconsin comes in. This section tells you about the history of the ship, then you can go and tour it. The third section is the Natural Power of the Sea. That’s where we have our aquarium section where you can touch a horseshoe crab, touch a shark and engage more with the natural elements of the ocean.”
While Nauticus is generally self-guided, there are group tours available for the battleship, including two private tours that go to places on the ship that are not open to the general public. “Command and Control” takes groups to see how the ship was run. “Life in the Engine Room” takes visitors down to the belly of the ship to see how it was powered.
For conferences and events, the neighboring Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center is available for dining events, receptions and conferences that need a large space with the ability to show presentations. The 80,000-square-foot facility is ideal for almost any event, with a magnificent view of the Elizabeth River, and the outdoor Promenade Deck can accommodate up to 150 people.
For additional information, visit the Nauticus website: Nauticus.org.
For additional information about Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center, call 757-664-1074.
Chock full of history and charm, Hampton is the oldest English-speaking settlement in the United States, founded in 1610. Hampton has many tales to tell about pirates (including the infamous Black Beard), the Civil War, emancipation, it is home to one side of the worlds’ first underwater tunnel connected to man-made islands for the purpose of vehicular travel and it was the first training ground for U.S. astronauts.
Hampton is also home to the Hampton Roads Convention Center, a 344,000-square-foot facility with 35 event spaces, three exhibit halls, a multi-configurable grand ballroom and a conference center with private access. “The space is very flexible,” says Leslie Baker, media relations specialist with the Hampton Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Big groups or small, they can tailor the space to fit. So, if you have 30 people, they can make room for that. If you have 500 people, they can open up rooms to give you space to move.”
For downtime and teambuilding, Hampton is home to historic Fort Monroe, a 565-acre decommissioned Army base that was constructed beginning in 1819. It offers 170 historic homes, the Casemate Museum and 8 miles of waterfront along the Chesapeake Bay. Segway tours are available for groups or individuals, and it is ideal for family members visiting with attendees who want something to do while you’re in meetings.
The fort is also home to Paradise Ocean Club, which is a great place for dining or relaxing, and The Oozlefinch Craft Brewery. The nearby neighborhood of Phoebus has a number of fantastic food options as well as The American Theatre, and Downtown Hampton offers several more exciting restaurants lining Queen’s Way. The nearby Vanguard Brewpub and Distillery offers excellent food, exciting libations and plenty of space for a reception. They also provide live music/entertainment almost every night of the week. For truly unique outings, you and your group can take a tour on the Miss Hampton, or you can even book a space in the old post office for corporate events.
The planning process for your Hampton meeting, convention or conference starts with a call to the Convention and Visitors Bureau at 757-722-1222. They can help you plan every detail of your visit, including booking hotel spaces, setting up your meeting and more. You can also visit the CVB website at VisitHampton.com for a full listing of resources available to you.