Check-in time was 4:00, but when we arrived at our oceanfront hotel (the very last one on the north end of the Virginia Beach boardwalk, on the corner of 39th Street) at 4:15 on an October afternoon, the manager at the desk was telling the people in front of us in line that their rooms weren’t yet ready. We feared that the staff’s disorganization was a sign that we wouldn’t enjoy our stay at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort.
Thankfully, it wasn’t.
The Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort isn’t a resort in the sense that guests visit with the intention of spending an entire vacation on the premises, but it does have enough extra features that someone could spend a whole day there. For our young family, the pools were the greatest advantage. The outdoor pool, spanned by a bridge and partially covered with a spray from two fish-shaped fountains, boasts a seasonal bar and sandwich shop. The pool is in view of the beach, though, so visitors intent on relaxing poolside may instead be tempted to step across the boardwalk to enjoy the sand and waves.
Despite extraordinarily high temperatures for October, our family spent more time in the hotel’s indoor pools than at the outdoor one on our visit. The “regular” indoor pool had two hot tubs acting as a balcony, but it wasn’t nearly as much of a draw for us as the third pool, the lazy river. Designed to resemble a pool beneath outdoor cliffs, the lazy river has enough current to carry floating swimmers behind three small coves hidden under waterfalls, which provide fun for children of all ages.
During the summer and on off-season weekends, the Holiday Inn Sunspree offers even more fun for children with all-day supervised activities, both on and off the beach, at the KidsZone children’s activity center. KidsZone is also home to the hotel’s mascot, a live leopard tortoise named Tonka.
Hotel services include bell service and valet parking (though those who prefer to park their own cars may find it easier to walk across the street to the two-story parking garage), and the property includes a fitness room, a small gift shop, and two restaurants that offer room service. Beach Scenes, serving breakfast and lunch, is the more casual of the two. Isle of Capri, an Italian restaurant accessed by riding a glass elevator to the top (6th) floor, requires “proper dress” and reservations.
The hotel’s rooms all face the ocean, and the property is laid out so that most are oceanfront rooms, as opposed to pool view rooms. Our standard room was typical of a mid-priced hotel; the only thing that I hadn’t seen before was their pillow menu – an option of firm or soft pillows made of different materials could be requested via telephone. The hotel also offers two types of suites. Everything was clean, and nearly everything was well maintained. One exception was the floors. The corridor carpets were heavily worn (and bleach stained on our floor); the elevator leading to the pool areas had several cracked tiles.
Price-wise, our stay was a bit of a splurge for our frugal family, even in the off-season. We normally stay at no-frills hotels one step above the economy category. However, the hotel’s extras – the view from the balcony and the lazy river in particular – left us feeling that our time there was worth the extra expense. I would recommend the Holiday Inn Sunspree to other families planning a visit Virginia Beach.