Virginia Beach hotel leaders are hoping that booking rates will return to pre-pandemic levels.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Hotel leaders in Virginia Beach are optimistically forecasting a strong, bounce-back spring break season for 2022 after a pandemic-related downturn.

“A lot of optimism, we tend to be forever optimists,” said John Zirkle, the president of the Virginia Beach Hotel Association (VBHA). “Omicron seems to be fading and we don’t have the restrictions in place we’ve had before.”

The VBHA is a representative trade association made up of dozens of hotels across the city, the majority of which are at the city’s Oceanfront.

According to Zirkle, booking rates are high compared to this time last year. Many of the VBHA’s hotels are already expecting to see “full” weekends for most weekends between mid-March through April. When asked, he defined full as at least 90-95% capacity.

Compared to the spring break of 2021, he said there’s a noticeable change when the pandemic still played a big influence in traveling. Hotels being at full capacity were the outlier, rather than the norm.

“When you look at last year in March, April, we had a sellout weekend here or there. But most hotels were in the 60-70% range. This year, we’re looking at most hotels being above 85%. Name brands and newer hotels being well-above 95%,” Zirkle said.

Despite an influx of expected visitors, Zirkle said hotels are still dealing with staffing shortages and paying a higher price for hotel operations and supplies.

According to Old Dominion University’s recent State of the Region report, hotel revenues set a record for the summer season in 2021.