The 204-room Crowne Plaza Norfolk underwent a $5 million renovation last year. New amenities: a 24-hour business center, complimentary wireless Internet and a fitness center. The hotel has 15,000 square feet of meeting space. (757) 627-5555; thenorfolkplaza.com
Local Update: This past March, as part of the revitalization of the Coliseum Central Business District, the 1.1-million-square-foot Peninsula Town Center retail and office development brought an additional 50 stores to the downtown area. By June of this year, the project expects to have 15 restaurants open for business, including a movie theater/bowling venue called CinéBistro.
The 173-room Crowne Plaza Hampton Marina Hotel recently opened along the city's waterfront, about four miles from the Hampton Roads Convention Center, with about 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
The new 109-room Hampton Inn, approximately two miles from convention center, features 1,150 square feet of meeting space, complimentary Wi-Fi, a fitness center and an indoor pool.
Meeting Hotels: The city of Hampton offers approximately 3,500 hotel rooms. Major meeting properties include 295-room Embassy Suites Hotel, 320-room Holiday Inn Hampton Hotel & Conference Center, 190-room Clarion Hotel, 173-room Crowne Plaza Hampton Marina Hotel, 149-room Hilton Garden Inn, 146-room Courtyard by Marriott, 124-room Springhill Suites, 109-room Hampton Inn and 96-room Country Inn & Suites.
Convention Center: Hampton Roads Convention Center; exhibit, meeting and public space, 344,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 35; (988) 484-HRCC; thehrcc.com
Airport Transit: Norfolk International Airport, approximately 35 miles from downtown; transfer cost by taxi to downtown, $45. Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, about 25 miles from downtown; transfer cost by taxi, $30
Taxes: Room tax, 8%; sales tax, 5%; total tax on hotel rooms, 13%
Group Venue: One of the largest Bass Pro Shops, a nationwide chain of fishing and hunting stores, resides in Hampton. An adult playground for outdoorsy types as well as a mammoth retail store, its 105,000-square-foot floor features a 10,000-gallon fresh water aquarium, a 40-foot rock climbing wall and an outdoor archery range. One conference room is available for groups of up to 25. (757) 202-5200; basspro.com
CVB Services: Hampton Convention & Visitors Bureau, (757) 722-1222 or (800) 487-8778; visithampton.com
On the Fly
Several hotels have opened near Richmond International Airport. The year-old, 104-room Hampton Inn Richmond International Airport
offers meeting space to for up to 100 people, an indoor pool, a fitness center, complimentary breakfast and 32-inch TVs in guest rooms. The 165-room Hilton Garden Inn Richmond Airport
, open since November 2008, features 2,600 square feet of banquet space, a 360-square-foot boardroom, complimentary wireless Internet in the lobby and meeting space, and the Great American Grill. Another recent newcomer is the 143-room Holiday Inn Richmond International Airport,
which offers the 1607 Bistro & Bar and five meeting rooms totaling 9,504 square feet of space for groups of up to 300.
Local Update: In late 2008, the 250-room Westin Richmond opened with 10,000 square feet of meeting space. The on-site Crossings Restaurant and Crossings Bar & Lounge serves American cuisine. Guest rooms feature Westin Heavenly Beds, 37-inch flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi access.
The 135-room Aloft Richmond West opened last fall with an indoor pool, a 24-hour gym and a restaurant/lounge.
The 254-room Hilton Richmond Hotel and Spa/Short Pump debuted this past December with approximately 22,000 square feet of meeting space, the Aura Spa and Salon, Shula's American Steak House and 42-inch, high-def TVs in all guest rooms.
Among other new hotels that have debuted in the Short Pump area are the 134-room Hotel Sierra Richmond West, with three meeting rooms and 1,750 square feet of event space, and the 102-room Wingate by Wyndham Richmond Short Pump, offering 2,200 square feet of meeting space, complimentary wired and wireless Internet, and an indoor pool.
Last year, the 250-room Hilton Garden Inn Richmond Downtown opened in the historic Miller & Rhoads department store across from the Greater Richmond Convention Center. The hotel offers 6,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including a 3,080-square-foot ballroom. Amenities include complimentary wired and Wi-Fi Internet access, and refrigerators and microwaves in all guest rooms.
In September, the 410-room Richmond Marriott finished a $14 million renovation. Among the highlights: the conversion of the lobby to Marriott's Great Room concept, the refurbishment of all guest rooms, and the addition of T-Miller's Sports Bar and Grill. A total of 40 meeting rooms and 26,427 square feet of meeting space is offered.
Meeting Hotels: Richmond offers more than 16,000 hotel rooms. Properties include the 410-room Richmond Marriott, 372-room Sheraton Richmond West, 361-room Omni Richmond, 298-room Crowne Plaza Richmond Downtown, 282-room Crowne Plaza Richmond West, 262-room The Jefferson, 254-room Hilton Richmond Hotel and Spa/Short Pump, 250-room Hilton Garden Inn Richmond Downtown, 250-room Westin Richmond, 242-room Marriott Richmond West, 230-room Doubletree Hotel Richmond Downtown, 224-room Embassy Suites Richmond, 194-room Sheraton Park South, 155-room Wyndham Richmond Airport Hotel, 136-room Residence Inn Richmond Chester, 135-room Aloft Richmond West, 134-room Hotel Sierra Richmond West and 102-room Wingate by Wyndham Richmond Short Pump.
Convention Center: Greater Richmond Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 180,000 square feet; meeting space, 80,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 38; (804) 783-7300; richmondcenter.com
Airport Transit: Richmond International Airport, 10 miles from downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, $20
Taxes: Room tax, 5%; sales tax, 8%; total tax on hotel rooms, 13%. Scottsdale room tax, 3.97%; sales tax, 7.95%; total tax on hotel rooms, 11.92%
Group Venue: The new eatery Lemaire is set within the iconic Jefferson Hotel and specializes in New American cuisine topped with a bit of southern flare from Richmond-born chef Walter Bundy. A group of up to 60 people can book the venue's private event space. (804) 649-4644; lemairerestaurant.com
CVB Services: Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, (800) 370-9004; visitrichmondva.com
Up In the Air
Coming this May: new nonstop flights from Norfolk to New York, Cleveland, Las Vegas and Chicago.
Local Update: A 162-room Aloft Hotel is in the works. Upon opening in spring 2012, it will have doubled the current 9,800 square feet of meeting space available at the attached 236-room Westin Virginia Beach Town Center.
The 141-room Hampton Inn Virginia Beach-Oceanfront South recently opened for business. A 1,300-square-foot banquet room and complimentary high-speed Internet access are offered.
Meeting Hotels: Virginia Beach offers 12,000 hotel rooms citywide and 3,500 rooms within a two-mile radius of the convention center. Major meeting properties include the 400-room Cavalier Hotel, 307-room Holiday Inn Virginia Beach-Norfolk Hotel & Conference Center, 295-room Virginia Beach Resort Hotel & Conference Center, 292-room Doubletree Hotel Virginia Beach, 290-room Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront, 266-room Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort, 243-room Wyndham Virginia Beach Oceanfront, 236-room Westin Virginia Beach Town Center, 198-room Sheraton Oceanfront Hotel, 176-room Hilton Garden Inn, 168-room Springhill Suites by Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront, 167-room Ramada on the Beach, 160-room Courtyard by Marriott, 149-room Crowne Plaza and 141-room Hampton Inn Virginia Beach-Oceanfront South.
Convention Center: Virginia Beach Convention Center; exhibit space, 150,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, five (capable of 26 subdivisions); (800) 700-7702; vbmeetings.com
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: In Virginia Beach's Town Center, McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant offers the Pearl Dining Room, which seats 55, and the Chesapeake Room, which can handle groups of 20 to 60. Fresh fish rules here. (757) 687-8446; mccormickandschmicks.com
CVB Services: Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, (757) 385-4700 or (800) 700-7702; vbmeetings.com
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia
Beach opened its new $25 million Restless Planet permanent exhibit in
January, featuring 12,000 square feet of new habitats. An array of
spaces at the facility can accommodate private events for groups of up
to 2,000. (757) 385-3474; virginiaaquarium.com
Local Update: The Sheraton Norfolk Waterside finished a revamp of all 468 guest rooms early last year. The property offers 35,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting space, a complimentary fitness center and an outdoor pool.
The 405-room Norfolk Waterside Marriott recently completed a renovation of its approximately 60,000 square feet of meeting space.
In Norfolk's downtown district, the 301-room Westin Norfolk Hotel & Conference Center has broken ground. The $150 million project includes a 21,000-square-foot grand ballroom, three floors of meeting space and 600 parking spaces. Completion is expected in 2011.
The new Residence Inn by Marriott features 160 suites and one 720-square-foot meeting room, plus fully equipped kitchens and HDTVs in all guest rooms.
Meeting Hotels: Properties include the 468-room Sheraton Norfolk Waterside, 405-room Norfolk Waterside Marriott, 247-room Hilton Norfolk Airport, 204-room Crowne Plaza Norfolk, 160-room Residence Inn Norfolk Downtown, 152-room America's Best Value Inn and 147-room Holiday Inn Select Norfolk.
Convention Center: The Waterside Convention Connection (comprising the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside, Norfolk Waterside Marriott, Radisson Hotel Norfolk, Waterside Festival Marketplace and Norfolk Scope Arena); combined exhibit space, 121,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 55; (800) 368-3097; visitnorfolktoday.com
Airport Transit: Norfolk International Airport, eight miles from downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, $25
Taxes: Room tax, 13%; sales tax, 5%; total tax on hotel rooms, 13%, plus $1 bed tax per room, per night
Group Venue: Close to downtown Norfolk, the Chrysler Museum of Art faces the Hague Inlet of the Elizabeth River. The museum's extensive collections include more than 40,000 objects from many historical periods and art movements, from Egyptian to Islamic to art nouveau. Among the venue's varied and elegant spaces are the Huber Court, which features 15th-century, Florentine-style décor and accommodates 400 for a reception and 220 for dinner; the Memorial Garden, which holds 200 for a reception; and the George M. and Linda H. Kaufman Theatre, which seats 375. (757) 664-6200; chrysler.org
CVB Services: Norfolk Convention & Visitors Bureau, (757) 664-6620; (800) 368-3097; visitnorfolktoday.com