by Wendy Irvine
“This is the best day of my life!” squealed my hard-to-impress 7-year-old son. It wouldn’t be fair to call my boy Eyore but let’s just say he gets where Eyore is coming from. After a few hours in the Ocean Beach Club’s surf, my son was sold.
Soaring 18 stories into the sky and sitting at 34th Street and Atlantic Avenue, the Ocean Beach Club reigns from a coveted piece of Virginia Beach real estate: right on the exciting board walk and glittering, white-sand beach.
The Ocean Beach Club’s grounds are decked in a tropical theme with palm trees and water features galore. The exterior areas — the lobby, the pools, the fitness room and the cafe — are the property’s signature pieces and all simply scream, “summer vacation!”
The Ocean Beach Club, built in 2005 with 362 rooms, is a timeshare property but also set up to receive hotel guests. The one-, two- and three-bedroom suites are all equipped with a traveling parent’s fondest wish: a fully equipped kitchen. These babies have almost everything you’d hope for in an away-from-home kitchen and more: dishes, a full dishwasher, silverware, mixing bowls, the whole nine yards.
Families will love the Ocean Beach Club for it’s three activity pools and stunning, recently renovated beach complete with cabanas, umbrellas and lounge chairs. The property is also just three easy-to-walk blocks to a great play structure that sits right on the sand next to King Neptune’s towering statue.
Nearby the Ocean Beach Club are great activities for those times when the beach is getting old. The kids will love the Ocean Breeze Waterpark (an easy five-minute drive), the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center (also five minutes away), the Old Coast Guard Station (a great visit and open year round at 24th Street and Boardwalk) and kayaking at First Landing State Park.
Our Editor Loves
- Sparkling beach with luxury amenities
- Fully equipped kitchens
- Activity-oriented pools with water features
- Water Sports
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
In a world full of choices there's something wonderful about having a simple question before you: Would you prefer a studio, one-, two- or three-bedroom suite? That's it! Nothing confusing about it at the Ocean Beach Club. All, but the studios, come with full kitchens. The studios have kitchenettes. Easy.
The spacious, condo-ish one- and two-bedroom suites have an impressive (with a capital "I") kitchen, a basic bathroom with dual sinks and televisions (most with) DVD players in the bedroom. (If you really want a DVD player, be sure to specifically ask for one.) The living rooms also have a 32-inch flat screen ideal for the family members sleeping on the pullout sofa.
The studios, perfect for two people, are simple with just a kitchenette: fridge, microwave and sink.
All suites also have nice-sized private balconies delivering stunning oceanfront, ocean or city views. Two chairs and a little table complete the set up. I wouldn't hesitate to request a view of the ocean. However, if you love the sunset, ask for a city view and you'll be treated to a bright orange ball melting into an opalescent pink sky in the evening. However, rooms with city views do not have walkout balconies. So if you treasure a small, airy patio, ask for an ocean or ocean front view.
Let's get more specific about the kitchen: it's the real deal. Apartment-sized fridge, dishwasher, oven, microwave oven -- everything you need to whip up a full spaghetti dinner (yep, there's a colander). I was surprised to find plates, silverware, mixing bowls, blender, frying pan, even a nice-sized salad bowl. And when the food's prepared, there's a dining table that seats six.
The tiny bathroom has a fairly large, basic tub with jets. The dual vanity sinks were placed in a rather odd part of the suite, unfortunately, outside of the bathroom between the bedroom and living room. Odd arrangement for privacy, but we made it work.
The one- and two-bedroom suites also have a pullout coach -- not the most supportive mattress in the world, but the kids didn't notice.
There is one more choice: If you want something large, the Ocean Beach Club also has eight bi-level penthouses with rates starting at $1,000, but the property is quick to caution that they have very limited availability on the penthouses. These large suites come with three bedrooms, a washer and dryer and everything that the regular suites offer.
Check in is at 4 p.m. And during their busy summer months, your room may not actually be ready at 4. Check out is at the painfully early vacation hour of 10:00 a.m. (Request a later check out. I did and was allowed one more hour.)
The beach fronting the Ocean Beach Club is wide, clean, sparkling and under the surveillance of friendly lifeguards. And the lion's share of thanks goes to the recent $103 million renovation. If you visited Virginia Beach in years past, be prepared to discover just what $103 million can do for a beach.
Another nice surprise awaited. Speaking as someone who has schlepped many a towel, folding chair and umbrella to the beaches through the decades you could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw (with my own eyes) a nice, young man setting up chaise lounge chairs, cabanas and umbrellas. The goodies appear with a fee, of course, but what a beautiful sight it was for this tired mom. Just think: this one affordable service transforms the beach experience for parents from exhausting to (startlingly) serene.
The one bag I would recommend schlepping to the beach is one filled with water bottles, digging tools, a box of crackers and sun block.
Rent two- or four-person bikes early in the morning or in the evening for an activity that your kids will be talking about forever more. The boardwalk is actually made up of two "board" walks -- they're really modern, beautifully maintained cement paths. One path is for the walking crowd, the other is for the bikes and skates. Nice and safe for all.
Catching sight of wild dolphins dipping in and out of the waves 100 feet from shore isn't merely likely, it's probable. Bring your best binoculars and prepare to swoon with excitement. (I sure did.)
You know you're in Virginia Beach when you see "I Heart Jets" on the back of cars. Kids certainly heart the free airshow roaring over the Virginia Beach strip three or four times each day. Hampton Roads is the site of the world's largest naval station and kids can easily spot Navy ships off shore, fighter jet pairs zooming over head and helicopters (sometimes 10 in a row heading out to sea). The Coast Guard also patrols the beach strip so, while you might not appreciate the racket, the kids will be enthralled.
The Ocean Beach Club has a small, but well-stocked playrroom for kids with board games, toys and the ever-present television. The only catch is that this room is not technically a "kids club." You will be told that if you leave your child and head to Tortuga's for dinner and your child leaves the room in pursuit of you, it's not the property's responsibility. In other words, this playroom is not a babysitting service. An Ocean Beach Club staff member is, however, on hand to keep an eye out for emergencies.
Four large arcade games sit directly across from the playroom attracting kid-squeals. Both the playroom and arcades sit on the lobby floor adjacent to the indoor pool.
The three pools are like magnets for kids at the Ocean Beach Club: two sit outside next to Tortuga's and the third is indoors
The two outdoor pools are seasonal and somewhat on the small side, but both are beautifully designed. The adult pool (kids welcome, too) boasts a flowing fountain and ultra-cushy double chaise lounge chairs all around (although you have to get up pretty early in the mornings to score one of these). Plenty of regular lounge chairs are in plentiful supply. The Tortuga Cafe, formally facing the boardwalk and ocean, also has a walk-up window facing the adult pool so ordering drinks and food poolside is a breeze.
The kids' activity pool rocks with a large "octopus" gurgling water from it's top, fountains streaming and water buckets tipping. The water depth ranges from one foot to three feet -- definitely made for the little guys, but my 7-year-olds loved this pool too.
The indoor pool is a wonder: large with water streaming, flowing and shooting, buckets tipping and kids shouting and giggling. The Ocean Beach Club keeps the indoor pool at a warm 85 degrees and all of the pools are open from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Tortuga's Cafe and Tiki Bar
Palm trees wrapped in tiny white lights sway over the open-air restaurant of Tortuga's Cafe and Tiki Bar located on the lobby floor of the Ocean Beach Club facing the boardwalk and the Atlantic beyond. The outdoor pools sit adjacent to Tortuga's infusing the small eatery with an upbeat, vacation ambiance feel. But the food? Not so much. The small breakfast menu offers a pancake wrap, a sausage, egg and cheese sandwich and a bagel and cream cheese. The lunch menu has "tiki bar snacks" serving chicken wings and nachos. The "little kahunas menu" has hot dogs, chicken nuggets and a cheeseburger on it. Light offerings include a Caesar salad and sandwiches like pulled pork and a turkey wrap. The large entrees include barbecued ribs, grilled salmon and crab cakes. My best suggestion is to order a cocktail and enjoy Tortuga's for the incredible ocean sights and vibe, but plan to enjoy Tortuga's during the warm months because the restaurant closes for the season on October 31.
27th Street and Atlantic Avenue
A fairly easy seven block walk to dipped cones, banana splits and waffle bowls. Best of all, they open at 10:00 a.m.
333 Laskin Road
The Ocean Beach Club doesn't offer room service, but Papa John's is more then willing to pick up the slack.
Pocahontas Pancake House
Atlantic Avenue & 35th Street
Located directly across the street from the Ocean Beach Club, the Pancake House offers huge portions that are way delicious. My husband and two sons all ordered large plates. Me? I ordered coffee and finished off chocolate chip pancakes from one son's plate. Do yourself a favor and order lightly or you'll be rolling out of Pocahontas.
Planning & Tips
The Ocean Beach Club is just 20 minutes from Norfolk International Airport and downtown Norfolk.
Art of Smart Timing
The Virginia Beach scene is in full mode the moment school lets out, so expect the very end of May through Labor Day to be packed. Late spring and mid-Fall are both gorgeous times to visit when the weather and water can easily be inviting. The Ocean Beach Club is open year round, but is quiet in the winter.
For Mom and Dad
The Ocean Beach Club's fitness room is, in a word, impressive. Occupying the corner of the 17th floor the fitness room boasts super nice two-year-old machines including four Precor ellipticals, two recumbent bikes and two upright cycles. Machine weights, yes, but no free weights. Bring your own head set for the televisions inside the fancy Precor machines. Free towels are also on hand.