Over one hundred thousand twinkling Christmas lights illuminate the formal gardens of Virginia Beach’s colonial style hotel property, The Founders Inn and Spa. A 35-foot Christmas tree reaches towards the glass atrium in the center of the hotel. These decorations are a symbol of The Founders Inn’s celebration of tradition.
Built in 1991, The Founders Inn and Spa has accommodated thousands of guests, hosted conferences and events, and celebrated holidays with enthusiastic flair and excitement. Neighboring Regent University’s campus, the hotel may not be familiar to all Virginia residents. But with 240 guest rooms and 25,000 square feet of conference space, two restaurants, and a full-service spa, this hotel appeals to guests of all kinds.
The holidays are an important time for the Founders Inn. Not only is it a time to enjoy great seasonal food, sparkling lights, and gift-giving, but it truly emphasizes our thankfulness for our blessings and good-will towards men. Founders Inn employee, Rachel Orcutt, says that she is “definitely looking forward to when the Christmas season officially arrives.”
The Founders Inn prepares for numerous holiday events. One of which is Evening with Santa. Santa and his helpful elves gather around the Christmas tree and, while children sip hot cocoa, he reads the traditional Christmas story. The hotel’s Breakfast with Santa event causes excitement because children go to sleep with the prospect of dining with Santa in the morning.
About a month before Thanksgiving, when the air is just beginning to frost and the leaves start to change colors, decorating for Christmas commences. Snow flocked Christmas trees appear throughout the hotel lobby; a few here and a few there. Little Drummer Boys and Nutcrackers dot other areas of the hotel with their smiling mischievous faces. The large Christmas tree is ornamented with golden angels. Festive wreaths are hung. The conference lobby is home to a life-size faux gingerbread house, decorated with peppermint stick windows and a cookie rooftop. Light posts are adorned with pine needle garland and the garden area, as well as the hotel building, is installed with hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights. Rachel expresses her enthusiasm over seeing the decorations go up: “I love it! It makes me excited and happy inside!”
To celebrate the start of the season, the Founders Inn hosts their annual Founders Illumination event. This event is usually held the Sunday after Thanksgiving. This year’s ceremony, to be held on Nov. 25, will mark the 21st Inn. Employees at the Founders Inn are excited to prepare for the event, as they know hundreds of people from the Virginia Beach community and beyond will come to celebrate together.
Highlights of the Illumination ceremony include stilt walkers, Christmas music performances, and horse-drawn carriage rides. Just around dusk, as the sun sets a fiery glow on the property, guests gather to watch all of the lights be turned on. For those in attendance in previous years, it was a magical sight. Founders’ Reservations Agent, Crystal Stanley, admits that her favorite part of the evening is the lighting ceremony. Regent University Alumna, Sammi Bryant says, “I love how gorgeous the Founders Inn looks with all of the wonderful Christmas lights and decorations. The Bible says that we should be a light among the nations and the Founders does a good job to brighten up Virginia Beach with its vibrant display!”
As we move forward into the holiday season and as we begin to buy presents and decorate our own homes, it is important to remember take time to relax and enjoy our blessings with our loved ones. Christmas events, like the Founders Illumination, should allow the holiday cheer that bubbles within us all year long to finally come to fruition. The Founders Inn General Manager, Sascha Hemmann, says, “Every year Founders Inn and Regent University work together to deliver the time-honored tradition of our Founders Illumination. This is our way as a team to say thanks to the Hampton Roads community. Please join us as we celebrate the start of this holiday season with great food, carriage rides, traditional Christmas story telling, and many other exciting activities.”
To learn more about the Founders Inn and Illumination event, please visit www.foundersinn.com.