February 2015

Norfolk, Va., provides nearly unlimited waterborne activities

by Tyler Davidson

Norfolk, Va., is a destination that is defined by water. From its stature as the world’s largest naval station—Norfolk Naval Base, supporting some 75 ships and 134 aircraft on 14 piers and in 11 aircraft hangars—to nearly unlimited waterborne activity options, delegates will set sail when they visit this southeastern Virginia maritime standout.

“Planners are impressed with the fact there is so much to see and do within walking distance of their hotels, and the quality of our amenities,” says Donna Allen, vice president of sales & marketing for VisitNorfolk. “No matter where you are in Norfolk, you are not far from a river, a bay or the ocean. We are an urban destination almost completely surrounded by water.”

According to Allen, the destination boasts 144 miles of shoreline and a new sailing school, Sail Nauticus, which offers teambuilding programs that foster leadership and can be customized to meet specific business and human resources goals.

Off the water, Norfolk boasts a variety of historical attractions in the Ghent District and is set to welcome a $126 million downtown mixed-use entertainment, meeting, dining and hotel destination on the corner of Main and Granby streets in 2017.

Called “The Main”, the project will feature a 23-story, 300-room Hilton hotel and The Exchange at The Main, a state-of-the-art IACC-certified conference center with a 50,000-square-foot ballroom that will be the largest meeting space in the city.

Other highlights include three new chef-inspired restaurant venues: the ground-floor, urban-style Saltine seafood restaurant, complete with live lobster tanks; the second-floor VARIA, serving trattoria-inspired Italian fare; and a rooftop garden and Grain lounge.

Norfolk offers approximately 5,400 hotel rooms citywide, with 3,000 committable and 263,000 square feet of meeting space, and 1,200 rooms downtown, with 223,000 square feet of meeting space.

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