Wish You Were Here
Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: March/April 2010
Virginia Special Advertising Section
By: Victoria Head
Located midway between New York and Florida, Virginia is the gateway to the South. From the birthplace of this nation, Jamestown Island, to the historic homes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, to the natural wonders and amenities of their high ranking state park system, Virginia abounds with beautiful coastlines and miles of trails to explore. There are bustling cities like Virginia Beach and Norfolk, as well as the welcoming rural communities in the southwestern and mountain regions. The state is the Napa Valley of the east with more than 120 vineyards, estate wineries and award-winning wines garnering much interest and appreciation.

Virginia is steeped in fascinating stories of history. Throughout the state are historic landmarks where America got its roots. There are Civil War battlefields in every section of the state, as well as much Black History to explore. Virginia is home to the longest continuous experience of African-American culture and life in the United States, dating back to 1619, when the first Africans were involuntarily brought to the shores of Historic Jamestown. The proud, rich heritage and struggle of the Black experience in Virginia is something that visitors can learn from through sites, artifacts, events and museums across the state.



HAMPTON ROADS
Hampton is nestled along the Chesapeake Bay and graced with miles of shoreline and breathtaking water views. Hampton has a distinct small-town feel with little traffic and an abundance of amenities. With a cost of living well below the national average, as well as one of the lowest crime rates in the region, Hampton Roads was rated as one of the “Best Places to Live” by Money Magazine. The town is also notable for its year-round ice-free harbor, for the United States Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, NASA, Marines, and Army facilities, shipyards, coal piers, and hundreds of miles of waterfront property and beaches, all of which contribute to the diversity and stability of the region's economy. The water area known as Hampton Roads is one of the world's biggest natural harbors.

Hampton is steeped in 400 years of American history, and hundreds of historical sites and attractions in the area draw visitors from around the world annually. In the 17th and 18th centuries, cargo ships stopped in Hampton to unload tea, spices, dressmaking material and other items. The region’s colonists flocked to Hampton to purchase the latest imports and hear news of their homeland from the ships' crews. Today, the city's renovated downtown waterfront district, which encompasses the site of the original 17th century seaport, is dotted with restaurants, shops, marinas and a waterfront park. Lending a colonial flavor to much of this restored district are cobblestone streets with red brick sidewalks.

There’s rich African-American heritage at sites throughout the 400-year-old city. Old Point Comfort is where the first Africans arrived in Virginia and Fort Monroe or "Freedom's Fortress," is where runaway slaves were protected during the Civil War. Hampton is also the location of the Emancipation Oak where President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was read. The tree is one of six national historic landmarks on the Hampton University campus and the university museum is the oldest and largest African-American museum in the nation.

The state-of-the-art Hampton Roads Convention Center features 344,000 total sq. ft. of versatile convention and exhibition space. An internationally award-winning, 295-suite John Q. Hammons Embassy Suites Hotel connects to the Hampton Roads Convention Center by a covered walkway. The Hampton Coliseum also shares the campus. The Convention Center and Coliseum are just minutes from the Virginia Air & Space Center, Hampton University, the Power Plant of Hampton Roads entertainment district and Peninsula Town Center. The Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport and Williamsburg Jamestown Airport are both 10 miles from the Center.

STATS
HOTEL ROOMS
Comfort Inn Coliseum & Convention Center 66
Courtyard by Marriott - Coliseum Drive 146
Crowne Plaza Hampton Marina 172
Embassy Suites Hotel, Hampton 295
Hampton Bay Plaza & Suites 142
EXHIBITION FACILITIES
HAMPTON ROADS CONVENTION CENTER
total exhibit space 344,000 sq. ft
largest hall 108,000 sq. ft.
meeting rooms 35
WHO YOU GONNA CALL?
Hampton Roads CVB – (800) 487-8778
www.hamptoncvb.com
The New Greater Hampton Roads Black Chamber of Commerce
www.ghrbcc.org

 

NORFOLK
The renovated downtown harbor of Norfolk is brimming with shops and eateries and decorated with more than two dozen mermaid sculptures giving it a welcoming feel. In the past years, Norfolk has become increasingly popular with vacationers embarking on cruises. Do to this demand, the city has recently finished construction of their new state-of-the art Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center. Since opening its doors to passengers in April 2007, over 230,000 passengers have passed through its portals with Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines calling Norfolk their home port. The Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center is also a magnificent venue, hosting a variety of special events and meetings. The pier is within walking distance of Norfolk’s premier downtown hotels.

Centrally located on the Eastern Seaboard, Norfolk is only hours from two thirds of the U.S. population, making traveling there and meeting there especially convenient. Norfolk offers over 5,000 rooms and many of its hotels are located within walking distance of the city’s downtown meeting venues, shopping, dining, attractions and nightlife. If transportation is needed a car, cab or Norfolk Electric Transit (a free shuttle bus service running through downtown) ride would never take more than 15 minutes to get to any downtown location.

The Doubletree Hotel Norfolk Airport welcomes its guests with their signature warm Doubletree chocolate chip cookies, while providing executive accommodations, guestrooms and suites. The hotel is attached to The Gallery at Military Circle, a fashion mall with over 120 stores, a variety of eateries and an 18-theatre Cineplex. It is only four miles from Norfolk International Airport. Norfolk’s Waterside Convention Center contains 36,365 sq. ft. of function space, as well as 19 meeting rooms. It can accommodate 2,400 guests in a reception, 2,000 guests in a theater set-up, and 1,400 guests for a banquet.

When visiting Norfolk in the summer months, be sure to check the events calendar for the annual Bayou Boogaloo and Cajun Food Festival. This popular 3-day festival delivers the heart and soul of Louisiana to visitors at Town Point Park in true Cajun and Creole style. The event features three stages with national recording artists and many local New Orleans musicians, unique art, live music, a hot pepper and crawfish chow-down contests, Jackson Square-style free caricature artist sketches, roaming jugglers, mask making and more!

STATS
HOTEL ROOMS
Candlewood Suites Norfolk Airport 120
Courtyard Norfolk Downtown 137
Doubletree Hotel Norfolk Airport 200
Norfolk Waterside Marriott 397
Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel 476
EXHIBITION FACILITIES
WATERSIDE CONVENTION CENTER
total exhibit space 36,365 sq. ft
largest hall 14,400 sq. ft.
meeting rooms 19
WHO YOU GONNA CALL?
Norfolk CVB – (800) 368-3097
www.visitnorfolktoday.com



ROANOKE
Roanoke, in the Roanoke Valley, allows travelers to experience the variety of all four spectacular seasons in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of western Virginia. The Valley is recognized for its railroad heritage, many festivals and nearby shopping including hand-made crafts and Virginia specialty items. The Roanoke Valley is the largest metropolitan area in western Virginia with attractions including the Rescue Museum, Mill Mountain Zoo, Dixie Caverns, the Natural Bridge, Smith Mountain Lake and the National D-Day Memorial.

Roanoke is a pleasant city with lots of activities to keep visitors busy. A vast array of outdoor recreation is available such as hiking the Appalachian Trail, biking on the Blue Ridge Parkway or partaking in an array of water sports on the Smith Mountain Lake, as well as fishing, golfing and camping. Roanoke is home to several galleries and nearby historic sites and is also known for its annual festivals, so it would be a good idea to check the Roanoke City Calendar to find out what is happening when you’ll be visiting.

The Roanoke Civic Center continues to be Western Virginia's premiere full-service facility with a 10,500-seat Coliseum, 2,151-seat Performing Arts Theatre, 14,000-sq. ft. Exhibit Hall, and a new 46,000-sq. ft. Special Events Center. The facility hosts major trade shows, convention and consumer shows, meetings and banquets and is fully equipped to provide all the amenities needed to create a successful event. Live entertainment, including sporting events and concert performances by some of the biggest names in the world come through Roanoke, exciting and amusing audiences throughout the year.

Roanoke Valley offers the best in quality hotel accommodations and affordable hotel meeting space, with over 6,000 first-class guestrooms, two civic centers and an IACC-approved conference center. Located within walking distance of downtown Roanoke, visitors to the Civic Center enjoy exploring the historic Roanoke City Market and the new Taubman Art Museum. There are numerous restaurants in the Roanoke Valley that cater to a variety of tastes and budgets. The Civic Center is just five miles from the Roanoke Regional Airport and six miles from the breathtakingly beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway.

STATS
HOTEL ROOMS
Courtyard Roanoke Airport 135
Comfort Inn Airport 96
Sheraton Roanoke Hotel & Conference Center 320
The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center 351
EXHIBITION FACILITIES
ROANOKE CIVIC CENTER
total exhibit space 75,000 sq. ft
largest hall 14,396 sq. ft.
meeting rooms 4
WHO YOU GONNA CALL?
The Roanoke Valley CVB – (540) 342-6025
www.visitroanokeva.com



VIRGINIA BEACH
On the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, sits the resort city of Virginia Beach. It offers the classic beach vacation, and maintains a long-standing reputation as a family-friendly oceanfront resort. Visitors are greeted by a 300-ft.-wide beach lined by Virginia Beach’s three-mile concrete oceanfront Boardwalk. The resort offers a mild climate year-round and popular activities include visiting the state parks and Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, hiking, kayaking, biking adventures, fishing, golfing, whale watching, dolphin watching, historic landmarks and exciting attractions.

One of the most visited aquariums in the nation and the largest in the state of Virginia is the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. It is an authority on the states’ various aquatic and marine environments and features more than 700,000 gallons of aquariums and live animal habitats, more than 300 hands-on exhibits and the IMAX 3D Theater. Now opened is the Center’s new multi-million dollar, 12,000 sq. ft. renovation, Restless Planet: A journey across the planet that brings you closer to home. It’s an amazing journey populated by 6,000 new animals, including komodo dragons, exotic cobras, and adorable hedgehogs – just a few of the 367 species new to the Aquarium.

Virginia Beach's Claim to fame has always been its great location along the Atlantic Coast, adjoining Chesapeake Bay. Now, with the construction completed on its new 516,522 sq. ft., $202.5 million convention center, as well as new hotels and restaurants, Virginia Beach is taking another step forward in its bid to become a major factor in the national meetings and conventions market. The resort city is becoming a year-round meeting destination; the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau manages the Convention Center, which hosts regional and national trade shows, conventions, sports tournaments and special events.

Virginia Beach is proud to be a green destination; since their coastal environment is such a treasure, they have committed to eco-friendly practices to sustain and preserve it. In fact, Virginia Beach has led the way, becoming the Commonwealth’s first Virginia Green Destination by meeting and surpassing goals to reduce environmental impact. With meeting planners currently passionate about preserving and protecting the environment, they are careful to select locations for their upcoming events that pay attention to the environmental footprints their meetings leave on the planet. The Virginia Green logo guides meeting planners, business travelers and leisure travelers to tourism-related businesses such as hotels, restaurants and attractions taking voluntary actions to reduce harmful impacts on the environment.

STATS
HOTEL ROOMS
Holiday Inn Oceanside 21st 150
Courtyard Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront No. 160
SpringHill Suites Virginia Beach Oceanfront 168
Fairfield Inn & Suites VB Oceanfront 114
EXHIBITION FACILITIES
VIRGINIA BEACH CONVENTION CENTER
total exhibit space 516,522 sq. ft
largest hall 37,503 sq. ft.
meeting rooms 3
WHO YOU GONNA CALL?
Virginia Beach CVB – (800) VA-BEACH
www.vbfun.com
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