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Oceanfront, Virginia Hampton Inn to Open - Guest-Free?

By Josh Brown, The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Va.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

May 21, 2009--VIRGINIA BEACH -- The Oceanfront's newest hotel has no reservations for the Memorial Day weekend.

The 141-room Hampton Inn, at 1011 Atlantic Ave. in the southern stretches of the Oceanfront, was unable to accept reservations before it opened today, because of an issue with the hotel chain's online booking system.

Managers will open the doors by 3 p.m., counting on walk-in traffic to jump-start the holiday weekend.

"We're praying for good weather," said Ronnie Sibony, president of Sunsations Realty, the developer of the $30 million hotel.

Workers at the Hampton Inn spent much of the day Wednesday hanging paintings and preparing for guests, said Robyn Cooper, the hotel's sales director.

She said the hotel, which employs about 40, is working closely with the Virginia Beach Chamber of Commerce to get the word out to spur walk-ins.

Sunsations, an affiliate of the Virginia Beach-based chain of beach clothing and souvenir stores, broke ground on the Hampton Inn in March 2008.

"We thought it was a good business decision," Sibony said. "There's always room for a new hotel on the Oceanfront."

The company also runs the 68-room 19 Atlantic Hotel at the Oceanfront and built a 90-room hotel in Ocean City, Md.

Jim Ricketts, director of the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the 10-story hotel is a good addition, "especially for that section of the Oceanfront."

"It goes along with a lot of the product changes that's going on at the beach," he said.

Despite being unable to reserve rooms before today, Ricketts said, the hotel's opening on the cusp of the Memorial Day weekend is good timing.

"During Memorial Day, hotels in the region are usually 85 percent occupied," he said. "It is usually a weather-driven weekend. A lot of people are coming from a fairly close proximity."

Josh Brown, (757) 446-2318, josh.brown@pilotonline.com

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Copyright (c) 2009, The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Va.

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