VAQ Wins Award

VAQ wins United Kingdom Family Traveller Excellence Award w/ VBCVB assistance.  Category: Accessible and Specialist Initiatives

Accessible and Specialist Initiatives

Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas

Beaches Resorts

Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center

Intrepid Travel




Winners of the Family Traveller Excellence Awards crowned at celebrity hosted event


14.11.2019 Last night saw 50 of the top travel experiences and attractions including game reserves, theme parks and interactive museums crowned winners in the newly formatted Family Traveller Excellence Awards, hosted by renowned singer songwriter, Sophie Ellis-Bextor.


In a pioneering new approach to the awards to make them more meaningful and relevant to how British families are travelling, Family Traveller moved away from the traditional set award categories such as best hotel for families to adapt to the emerging and changing travel trends. This bold move gave their readers and subscribers the freedom to nominate the most unique, unusual and family friendly travel brands and experiences. These were then grouped into ten clear and well-defined themes which naturally occurred through the nominations.


It’s clear from the award themes including sustainable intentions and inclusive wellness that Family Traveller readers are much more focused on the impact to the world their holidays have. Pester power from children has become less about materialistic things and more about climate change and world events. Family Traveller has found that their readers children are much more aware of their environment thanks to climate change leaders such as Sir David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg. Greta’s ongoing media presence has made children realise that they do have a voice and are able to use it to make a change.


Over 110,000 votes were cast by Family Traveller readers and subscribers to find the 50 Excellence Award Winners, double the number of votes cast for the 2018 awards.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor, the host for the evening said “The outstanding calibre of the award winners really shows what’s important to Family Traveller readers when choosing and booking their holiday experiences. As a mum of five boys it’s important to me that they not only have a wonderful time, but they are also educated by other cultures and experiences.”


Jane Anderson, editor, Family Traveller said “It’s vital to us that we are constantly evolving with the times and offering our audience choice. We know their holidays are precious and we have seen from the awards that sustainability and environmental impact is a real deciding factor when they choose to book an experience or holiday. We want to support those intentions and will continue to raise the bar with the content we create and make sure it’s topical and informative to help them make those informed decisions.”


The winners are as follows:


Sustainable Intentions.

Morukuru at Madikwe Game Reserve

MalaMala Game Reserve, South Africa

Six Senses Laamu, Maldives.

Feadon Farm Wildlife and Education Centre,  Landal Gwel an Mor Resort

Forest Holidays, Thorpe Forest, Norfolk


Cool Innovations

Le Massif Resort, Courmayeur, Italy

The Core at Domes of Elounda

Royal Caribbean Cruises

Anantara Layan Phuket Resort,  Thailand

Hillside Beach Club, Turkey


Awesome Thrills and Spills

Norwegian Cruise Line

Canopy Park at Jewel Changi Airport, Singapore

Disneyland Paris for Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain and Marvel Season of Super Heroes.

Diggerland, UK

Sani Adventure Park, Sani Resort, Greece


Immersive Experiences.

Crans-Montana, Switzerland

The Acropolis, Athens

Cite de l’espace, Toulouse, France

Visit Jamaica, Bob  Marley Museum.

Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Resort


Pure Fun

Santa’s Lapland, Lapland

Hever Castle & Gardens, Kent, UK

Shangri-La, Singapore

Dubai Parks & Resorts

Camp Bestival


On Your Marks Active

Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, Canada

Quinta do Lago, Algarve


The Esplanade Hotel, Cornwall

Hard Rock Hotel, Woodward, Riviera Maya, Mexico


Learning and Enrichment.

Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, Cheshire, UK

ZSL London Zoo, UK

Peak Retreats

Woolley Grange, near Bath, a member of Luxury Family Hotels

Les Villages Nature Paris, France


Accessible and Specialist Initiatives

Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas

Beaches Resorts

Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center

Intrepid Travel

Virgin Atlantic’s Hidden Disabilities Scheme


Inclusive Wellness

Chablé Resort and Spa, Yucatan, Mexico

Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Switzerland

Evian Resort, France

Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi, Maldives

Cocoon & Bloom at Marbella Club, Spain


Going Above and Beyond

Best of South Africa Travel

Ikos Resorts, Greece and Spain

Original Travel

Kuoni’s Family Collection



For more information about the Family Traveller Excellence Awards visit



This year’s awards are sponsored by Ayla, the newest and most exciting resort destination in Jordan.



For media information contact Kylie Bawden at The Brighter Group or Jane Anderson at Family Traveller Magazine

2020 Edition of the Virginia Beach Lookbook

The 2020 Destination Lookbook has been printed and delivered so we wanted to share the good news with CVB staff. We’ve included a blurb below along with a few photos (attached). Maria, please feel free to add to the blurb as you see fit, but again, just wanted to share the existing update with the CVB as a whole. Thanks!



The 2020 edition of the Virginia Beach Destination Lookbook is hot off the press and ready to be shared! The book has been redesigned with brand new images, fresh content and stories, and updated listings throughout all while cutting down on production and distribution costs. Congratulations to the Marcomm team on completing this huge project and a special thank you to the VIC for hard work and help with listing updates and proofing assistance — talk about a team effort!


What’s New in Virginia Beach for 2020?

If you know of any new businesses or offerings, please email Kasey Moore ( and she will add it to this list.

What’s New in Virginia Beach for 2020?

Newly Opened

  • Williamsburg Winery – Virginia beach, The Williamsburg Winery’s new Wine Bar is located in La Promenade Distinctive Shoppes in Virginia Beach.
  • Vibrant Shores Brewing Company, opening in the ViBe Creative District, will feature a 2,584 square-foot property located at 505 18th St. will feature a tasting room, indoor and outdoor seating areas and a manufacturing space equipped with a 10-barrel Deutsche beverage brewing system. The brewery will also feature an elevated 609-square-foot outdoor seating area on the roof of the facility.
  • Food Trucks of Virginia, the new kitchen of Smartmouth Pilot House will be serving food every day the brewery is open
  • Mahi’s, serving sushi and seafood at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront DoubleTree
  • The Dirty Buffalo, is famous for its authentic Buffalo-style chicken wings and other Western New York-inspired dishes. Originating in Norfolk, the Virginia Beah location recently opened on Independence Blvd. Dishes from the other two locations have been featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.
  • Igloo Lounge at Sky Bar, open to the public, you can sip on your favorite cocktails with friends, play your personalized music station through each igloos Bluetooth speaker while staying warm with heaters and blankets. Igloos can be booked Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
  • Igloos at Back Bay Farmhouse Brewing, you can book one of their three fully furnished igloos.  Igloos are available Thursday – Sunday during the winter season

Coming Soon

  • Virginia Beach Sports Center, development of a new 285,000-square-foot state-of-the-art sports center is slated for completion November 2020. The Virginia Beach Sports Center, which will be located in the coastal city’s Oceanfront district, will consist of a 200-meter indoor hydraulically banked track, field event features including dual jumping pits and dual pole vault pits, and 195,000 square feet of programmable space, 117,000 square feet of which is multi-purpose, column-free flexible space built to accommodate 12 basketball courts convertible to 24 volleyball courts.
  • The Rustic Spoon, new comfort food restaurant will serve brunch  in what used to be Lubo Wine Bar
  • The Pink Dinghy, Latin American cuisine and craft cocktails spot opening in ViBe District in March 2019
  • Baby Izakaya, the sister restaurant to Alkaline Ramen will serve Japanese pub fare from noodles to sashimi alongside a drinking menu of cocktails, whiskey and sake.
  • Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront, a 20-story, 305-room Marriott Oceanfront Hotel is expected to open March 2020. The new hotel will have three restaurants on-site, including a beach bar, a sushi bar, and a rooftop restaurant with ocean views.
  • Orion’s Roof, will be located in the Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel. It will be one of only two rooftop restaurants in Virginia Beach and the only one with a rooftop patio. The 221-seat restaurant and bar restaurant features: an open kitchen with a wok station, an 8-seat sushi bar, a 33-seat bar, and a 24-seat private dining room.
  • Delta Hotel by Marriott Bayfront Suites, Formally the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel and Conference Center, this Chesapeake Bayfront property will feature 295 luxury two-room suites, many of which will overlook the Bay, as well as 13,000 square feet of meeting and event space. The hotel is set to open July 2020.
  • Hunt Club Farm’s New Treehouse Village Playground, opening April 2020
  • Make And Ride Surf Exchange, DIY surfboard factory that helps surfers to design and build their own boards. They are having a grand opening event on Saturday, January 25


  • Oceanfront Dome Site Development – “The Wave”, city hoping to transform 10.5 acre former Dome Site into mixed-use development with office, retail, residential, entertainment, recreational, and parking use. Backed by VIrginia Beach native, Pharrell Williams, could include music venue and wave park. Park could open in 2023.

Stephen Proffitt

The VB Services Team met up with intern extraordinaire, Stephen Proffitt, at the ESPA Conference in Denver!

Stephen was an excellent intern and worked with the VBCVB over 6 years ago  – he has been in Denver ever since.

He is currently the Director of Guest Experience at Evolve Vacation Rental and is doing Great!

ESPA – Convention Services Team

Jane White, Lynn Huneycutt and Eric Logan visited Denver for the Event Service Professionals Association Conference – a tour of Red Rocks Amphitheater and the Convention Center were on the agenda.  Also notice the pole banners spotted around the downtown Denver area welcoming ESPA!



While in Denver attending the Event Service Professionals Association Conference, we had a chance to catch up with two of our former interns – Danielle (Hinton) Jones and Stephen Proffitt who are both working in the industry and thriving!


Winter 2020 Trends

Winter 2019 Industry Trends

Below are a few industry trends we’ve taken note of for winter. If you’re interested in learning more, please reach out to CVB marketing specialist, Kelsey Blevins at

Marketing, Advertising & Tech Trends

  • Facebook Video Poll Ads: Following the adoption of poll sticker for Instagram Stories ads that rolled out earlier this year, Facebook is now bringing video poll ads to Facebook mobile Feed. [LINK]
  • Hulu Binge Ad Format: Hulu rolled out a new ad format tailored to viewers binge-watching several episodes of a show in a row. Format is made up of three ads spread across three episodes of the same series. [LINK]

Culinary Trends

  • Impossible Foods Introduces Plant-Based Pork and Sausage: Impossible Foods is adding meatless pork and sausage to its lineup, aiming to reshape the massive pork market nearly four years after its introduction of plant-based burgers helped shake up the hamburger business. [LINK]
  • Ube: Vibrant green matcha tea was everywhere in 2019 but in 2020, we’ll be seeing more purple, thanks to the rising popularity of this electric purple yam. [LINK]
  • Boozy Kombucha: Yelp review mentions of this boozy beverage grew 377% in the last 12 months. [LINK]
  • Floral-Infused Drinks and Dishes: Chrysanthemum and butterfly pea tea are just two of the extracts popping up in cocktails and dishes across the country. [LINK]
  • Non-Alcoholic Happy Hours: Raise a glass to the mocktail. Non-alcoholic bars are popping up across the country and zero-proof concoctions with delicious juice and tea blends may become just as popular as a glass of wine. [LINK]

Travel Industry Trends

  • Free Public Transportation: Kansas City is the first major U.S. city to get rid of bus fares. [LINK]
  • Zero-Footprint Travel: Natural Habitats offers zero-footprint itineraries and is now offsetting travelers’ entire lives for a full year if they book one of its Climate Change & Our Wild World trips. [LINK]
  • Women Wanderers: Another travel trend this year is small, curated trips for women that only include a clientele of one gender. In fact, some companies’ itineraries simultaneously focus solely on women throughout the world. [LINK]

Lodging Trends

  • Rent the Runway + W Hotels: Rent the Runway, a billion-dollar designer clothing rental company, is teaming up with W Hotels to bring clothes straight to hotel guests’ closets. The “Closet Concierge” program includes four items for $69, and it will initially launch in four cities: Aspen, Colorado; Miami; Los Angeles; and Washington. [LINK]
  • Rise of Luxury Tented Resorts: The space is growing because luxury travelers like the ability to be closer to nature without sacrificing creature comforts. Even the super-high-end hospitality brands are getting in on the trend. [LINK]
  • New Housing Model for Business Travelers: The Guild, a hospitality startup, is not quite a hotel but not quite Airbnb. It’s betting on $25M in funding to expand its apartment-like accommodations to urban centers to attract more business travelers. [LINK]
  • Gardens Are the Hot New Hotel Amenity: There isn’t a lot of idyll in our hyperdrive lives, and that’s why gardens are becoming an increasingly popular hotel feature. [LINK]
  • Ban on Mini-Toiletries: Mini-toiletries could soon be checking out of hotel rooms across the state of New York as authorities seek to introduce a state-wide ban. [LINK]

Retail Trends

  • Retailers Use Fitness Perks to Woo Customers: To get customers in the door, retailers — whether grocery stores or athleisure brands — are offering fitness classes. Lululemon has invested in two new experiential-focused stores. The Mall of America location comes complete with locker rooms, yoga and fitness studios, a meditation room, and a fuel bar. [LINK]

Health & Wellness Trends

  • High-Tech Spas: Somadomes, Bod Pods, virtual reality wellness — if you have no idea what these things mean, you will soon. [LINK]

Arts & Culture Trends

  • Digital Art Centre: A former WWII bunker in France is being converted into the world’s largest digital art centre, with multimedia displays projected over illuminated pools of water. [LINK]
  • ‘The Whale’ Building: A stunning architectural creation known as The Whale will be Norway’s next visitor attraction, and it will enable visitors to Andenes on the island of Andøya to see migrating whales up close. [LINK]
  • Night Time Enterprise Zone: London is encouraging residents and visitors to stay out after dark under the new Night Time Enterprise Zone project, which aims to make the capital a 24-hour global city. [LINK]

Energy Savings Continue

FYI – Remember that unusually warm day back in October – when CPower called for us to curtail our electricity load?  That 2 hours we reduced our peak demand earned us a $600 rebate on our Dominion Energy bill.  Not bad for less than 2 hours of work!  Les and Team – Thank you!