Virginia Beach hotels are ‘all in’ on Pharrell Williams-backed festival at the Oceanfront

Visitors of the Virginia Beach Oceanfront walk along the boardwalk between hotels and the Atlantic Ocean (Joshua Weinstein/Southside Daily)
Visitors of the Virginia Beach Oceanfront walk along the boardwalk between hotels and the Atlantic Ocean (Southside Daily file photo)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Something in the Water, the festival backed by
Pharrell Williams coming here in April, has been described by city leaders as a “game changer” that will “put Virginia Beach on the map” for music, fashion, and festival worlds.

Despite the uncertainty of a first-year festival coinciding with the tumult of College Beach Weekend, Oceanfront hoteliers are generally optimistic about the plan for the festival, said Russell Lyons, president of the Virginia Beach Hotel Association.

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“I have not heard of any hotels that plan to close,” Lyons said. “It will be a very busy weekend and an event unlike anything we have had before at the oceanfront; but the hotel community embraces the vision and we are excited about how the Something in the Water team and the city are working towards making this weekend a success.”

Brian Solis, Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen’s point person for the festival, said “it’s highly likely that Atlantic Avenue will be closed” for the festival.

Lyons is confident in the city’s abilities to manage the festival without interfering with hotel operations

“Road closures are nothing new for oceanfront hotel owners,” Lyons said. “We frequently have closures for marathons, parades, etc. The past few years on College Beach Weekend, the city has closed Atlantic in the evenings for safety and congestion reasons.”

Lyons cited the city’s history for always having a plan to allow hotel guests and staff to access the properties as one reason for his optimism.

With so many people at the Oceanfront, demand for hotel rooms will increase dramatically. In times of high-demand and limited supply, price gouging becomes a concern among consumers. Lyons noted all hotel rooms have a maximum rate they are allowed to charge for rooms.

“I’ve heard of hotels having to back down a rate because they unknowingly exceeded their maximum posted rate,” Lyon said. “Of course, a simple change of the posted rate eliminates any issues.”

Room rates the last weekend in April are typically near summer- rates, Lyons said.

So how full will Virginia Beach hotels be during Something in the Water? Lyons is about as optimistic as one can be.

“I expect the weekend to be a complete sellout city-wide.”

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