Virginia Destination Guide

Making Tracks
Last December, Amtrak added passenger service from Norfolk, Va., through Richmond, Va.; Washington, D.C.; and north up to Boston. amtrakvirginia.com 

Richmond
Uptown Alley, a $21 million entertainment complex just 20 minutes from downtown Richmond, recently opened with 38 bowling lanes, a full-service restaurant, a bar and lounge, billiards and a dance floor. The 57,000-square-foot complex offers several private spaces for special events.

The 112-room La Quinta Inn & Suites, Richmond-Chesterfield, recently completed a multimillion-dollar, seven-month renovation and rebranding from a Days Inn Hotel. The project included a complete redesign of the lobby, guest rooms and all 1,252 square feet of meeting space.

Marriott's Richmond Courtyard West completed renovations to its guest rooms and lobby area this past January. The 132-room property offers approximately 1,250 square feet of meeting space.

As part of its merger with AirTran Airlines, Southwest Airlines will begin absorbing Richmond International Airport's AirTran routes late this year.

Meeting Hotels
Properties include the 410-room Rich­mond Marriott, 372-room Sheraton Richmond West, 361-room Omni Richmond, 298-room Crowne Plaza Richmond Downtown, 262-room The Jefferson, 250-room Hilton Garden Inn Richmond Downtown, 242-room Marriott Richmond West, 224-room Embassy Suites Richmond, 183-room Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel and Conference Center, 135-room Aloft Richmond West, 134-room Hyatt House Richmond West, 102-room Wingate by Wynd­ham Richmond Short Pump and 80-room Residence Inn by Marriott.

For additional information on Rich­mond hotels and meeting facilities, visit mcvenues.com.

Convention Center
Greater Richmond Convention Center; total exhibit space, 180,000 square feet; total meeting space, approximately 80,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 38; (804) 783-7300; richmondcenter.com

Airport Transit
Richmond International Air­port, about 10 miles from downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, $20

Taxes
Room tax, 5%; sales tax, 8%; total tax on hotel rooms, 13%

Group Venue
Set along the scenic James River, The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing offers several waterside event spaces. The fourth-floor Harbormaster Suite can accommodate up to 40 people and features floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing views of the James River and the Richmond skyline. For larger groups, the street-level River View room can host up to 230 and offers exposed brick walls and a covered patio offering its own river views. (804) 622-2628; boathouserva.com

Contact
Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, (800) 370-9004; visitrichmondva.com

Norfolk Nosh
crab cakeCoastal Food Tours offers a Norfolk street food tour, which makes stops for local seafood, house-smoked meats, organic coffee and locally brewed beers. Private tours can be arranged in advance. coastalfoodtours.com

Virginia Beach
The Sheraton Virginia Beach Ocean­front completed a multimillion-dollar renovation last year, upgrading its 214 guest rooms, fitness center and indoor pool. The project also added a new outdoor pool plaza featuring the new 60-seat Cabanas Bar and Grill. The hotel has more than 13,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Oceanaire Resort Hotel opened its doors in June 2012 with 189 guest rooms and more than 8,000 square feet of meeting space. The facility shares amenities with its sister property, the 347-room Ocean Beach Club & Resort, which opened in 2005.

Meeting Hotels
Properties include the 400-room Cava­lier Hotel, 295-room Virginia Beach Resort Hotel & Conference Center, 292-room Double­Tree by Hilton Hotel Virginia Beach, 290-room Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront, 243-room Wyndham Virginia Beach Oceanfront, 214-room Sheraton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel, 189-room Oceanaire Resort Hotel, 176-room Hilton Garden Inn, 167-room Ramada on the Beach, 160-room Courtyard by Marriott and 149-room Crowne Plaza.

For a more comprehensive list of area hotels, visit mcvenues.com.

Convention Center
Virginia Beach Convention Center; exhibit space, 150,000 square feet; meeting rooms, five; (800) 700-7702; visitvirginiabeach.com/conventioncenter

Airport Transit
Norfolk International Airport, about 19 miles from the Virginia Beach oceanfront. Transfer cost by shuttle, $41; transfer cost by taxi, $42-$45

Taxes
Room tax, 8%, plus $1 per room, per night; sales tax, 5%; total tax on hotel rooms, 13%, plus $1 per room, per night

Group Venue
The Military Aviation Museum is home to one of the largest private collections of World War I- and World War II-era military aircraft in the world, including early biplanes as well as 1940s bombers. For private events, there is a 15,000-square-foot hangar; aircraft can be rented to perform at the event. (757) 721-7767; militaryaviationmuseum.org

Contact
Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, (800) 700-7702; visitvirginiabeach.com

A Taste of Virginia's Vintages
Events are welcome at Doukenie Winery

Visit Loudoun (visitloudoun.org) is holding a four-day wine-tasting event in the heart of Washington, D.C.'s wine country. The first annual Epicurience (a mix of epicurean and experience) will offer attendees a chance to taste some of the top wines from Loudoun and across the state from Aug. 31 through Sept. 2. For those unable to attend, the participating local wineries (see below) can be visited year-round. For more information on the state's wine culture, visit virginiawine.org.

Breaux Vineyards (breauxvineyards.com) in Purcellville offers tours and tastings on its 404-acre estate. Eighteen varieties are grown on the property, including chardonnay, merlot and Viognier. For events, the winery recently opened a new pavilion with panoramic views and a capacity of up to 150 people.

Several unique event spaces are available for private events at Doukenie Winery (doukeniewinery.com) in Purcellville. A new 3,200-square-foot event space with an adjoining patio and deck is available for groups of up to 100, while smaller groups can enjoy their reds and whites during a tasting in the Barrel Room.

Fabbioli Cellars (fabbioliwines.com), a small, family-owned vineyard and winery  in Leesburg, can accommodate up to 16 people for tastings with advance notice.

Also in Leesburg, the 475-acre Tarara Winery (tarara.com) overlooks a tranquil lake and the Potomac River. Every Saturday from June through September, the winery holds music concerts, and private tents are available for large groups. Wine-tasting reservations are required for groups of 10 or more. 

Chesapeake
The 82-room Country Inn & Suites is now a Baymont Inn & Suites. The property includes an indoor pool, a Jacuzzi, a fitness center, free wireless Internet and one meeting room that can accommodate up to 20 people.

The Hampton Inn Chesapeake/Green­brier recently completed a guest-room renovation. The 118-room inn does not have its own dedicated meeting space but is less than one mile from the 22,700-square-foot Chesapeake Conference Center.

The Red Roof Inn Chesapeake Conference Center recently renovated its 108 guest rooms, adding new Serta beds, flat-screen TVs and modern furnishings. The property does not have any meeting space but is less than half a mile from the Chesapeake Conference Center.

The 90-room Hampton Inn (Western Branch) has changed flags and been renamed the Hotel Craney Island while in transition to becoming the Best Western Plus Porstmouth-Chesapeake Hotel. The property is undergoing a renovation of its exterior and guest rooms; all work will be completed by May.

Meeting Hotels
Properties in the area include the 226-room Norfolk Marriott Chesapeake Hotel, 136-room Aloft Chesapeake, 132-room Springhill Suites Chesapeake Greenbrier, 124-room Comfort Suites, 121-room Residence Inn Chesapeake Greenbrier, 119-room Hyatt Place Chesapeake/Greenbrier and 118-room Hampton Inn Chesapeake/Greenbrier.

Convention Centers
Hampton Roads Convention Cen­ter (about 12 miles northwest of downtown Chesapeake); exhibit space, approximately 320,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 33; (757) 722-1222; visithampton.com/hrcc

Hampton Coli­seum (12 miles northwest of Chesapeake); exhibit space, 84,827 square feet; number of meeting rooms, three; (757) 838-5650; hamptoncoliseum.org

Airport Transit
Norfolk International Airport, about 15 miles northeast of downtown Chesapeake. Transfer cost by taxi, about $20

Taxes
Room tax, 8%; sales tax, 5%; total tax on hotel rooms, 13%

Group Venue
 
Set sail along Virginia's waterways on the 135-foot American Rover. Up to 120 guests can mix and mingle aboard the three-masted topsail schooner. Bar service and entertainment options are available for events; two lounges are found belowdecks. (757) 627-7245; americanrover.com

Contact
Chesapeake Convention & Visitors Bu­reau, (888) 889-5551; visitchesapeake.com