TORONTO — Santa Monica Travel & Tourism brought sunshine to Toronto yesterday with two events and a chance for the trade to get updated on all that’s new and noteworthy in this favourite California destination.
Yesterday morning Santa Monica and its partners – Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, Air Canada, Hotel Casa del Mar and Shutters on the Beach – hosted a wellness-themed event at Sweat + Tonic, featuring the sights, sounds, tastes and scents of the California sun spot. And last night travel advisors gathered at Toronto’s Second Floor Events venue for networking and destination updates.
Santa Monica offers “laid-back beach town vibes with big city sophistication,” says Pulse Communications’ Sana Keller, Director of Public Relations, Santa Monica Travel & Tourism – Canada Office.
Travelweek caught up with several of the team members inbetween yesterday’s events, to get all the latest news …
Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows
Danielle Gambardella, Director of Leisure Sales, Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows, says the property is positioned as an “urban resort with boutique hotel ambiance.” She adds: “We’re all about the celebration traveller, from honeymoons and weddings, to MICE, to anniversary and milestone travel.” The luxury property celebrated its own milestone, its 100th anniversary, in 2021 with renovations including lobby spaces and the new Soko. For summer 2023, new activations include a Night Market every Thursday, and movies by the pool every Saturday.
Casa del Mar & Shutters on the Beach
Casa del Mar and Shutters on the Beach are both privately-owned hotels in Santa Monica, says Melissa Perez, Director of East Coast Leisure Sales. She describes Shutters on the Beach as “cozy, intimate, with a Cape Cod vibe”, whereas Casa del Mar “is like a Mediterranean villa experience.” Both properties will bring back F&B service on the beach for summer 2023.
Regent Santa Monica Beach
A renowned name in hospitality is coming to Santa Monica. Currently undergoing renovations and a rebranding, the Regent Santa Monica Beach will be unveiled with a grand opening in late November / early December 2023, says Angel DeLara, Director of Sales and Business Development for the hotel. Already world-famous for its many luxury properties in Asia, with a handful of hotels in Europe, Regent Hotels & Resorts in partnership with IHG will make Regent Santa Monica Beach the only Regent-branded property in North America, says DeLara. The property is currently 347-keys, but will emerge later this year with fewer than 200 keys, with less of a focus on conferences and more on family getaways.
VISITOR STATS FOR SANTA MONICA TRAVEL & TOURISM
Michael Gurrieri, Chief Marketing Officer for Santa Monica Travel & Tourism, says Santa Monica has more than 40 hotels and close to 500 dining venues in its 21.5 square kilometres. “It’s a very walkable city,” he adds. Santa Monica is just 13 kilometres from LAX, with plenty for families, and an increasingly important wellness market. It also boasts a 5.6 kilometre stretch of coastline.
In 2019, Santa Monica clocked more than 460,000 visits from the Canadian market. The number of Canadian visitors dropped during the pandemic, not surprisingly – just 53,000 in 2021 – but has been rebounding well with 127,000 visits in 2022. Pre-pandemic, 51% of Santa Monica’s visitors were from international markets. “And 10 – 12% of that was from Canada,” says Gurrieri. “We’re definitely seeing Canadians coming back.”
Full destination information on Santa Monica can be found at the tourism board’s site here.
Air Canada’s flights to LAX operate out of no fewer than four Canadian gateways: Toronto, Calgary (starting May 1), Vancouver and Montreal.