Travel Trade Journal

A perfect and unique blend of beach town charm and urban energy

- Prashant Nayak

Santa Monica in California, a destinatio­n that is both chic and with laid-back luxury, comes alive with all the unique experience­s the city has on offer. This ocean-front destinatio­n averages 280 days of sunshine a year and offers some of the best sunsets on the West Coast of the USA. TTJ gets to know more about the chic beach community from Todd Mitsuhata, Global Business Developmen­t Director, Santa Monica Travel & Tourism (SMTT) and it does sound like an appealing destinatio­n for travellers of all ages. Read on to know what Todd has to say about this amazing year-round vacation destinatio­n, which has much more than its famous beach and pier.

How does Santa Monica stand out from other destinatio­ns in California?

Known as Los Angeles’ beach city, Santa Monica is California’s quintessen­tial playground. Set along a 5.6-kilometer stretch of coastline, Santa Monica is home to sandy beaches, friendly locals, an extraordin­ary hotel collection, and a wellness culture all of its own. At just 21 square kilometres, Santa Monica is also easy to explore by foot or bike, which makes it different from most other California destinatio­ns. Its proximity to LAX, Beverly Hills and Hollywood also makes it the perfect base of stay to explore the greater Los Angeles region.

Tell us why SM makes an exciting destinatio­n and the reasons travellers need to visit and explore the place when in California?

Santa Monica manages the ideal balance of seaside charm and coastal sophistica­tion. It’s also home to eight diverse neighbourh­oods – each infused with character. Once you spend time here, you’ll quickly discover just how much Santa Monica packs into its compact area. Along the oceanfront, you’ll find a unique selection of hotels ranging from beachfront luxe to vintage gems, celebrated restaurant­s, world-class shopping, and famous attraction­s like the Santa Monica Pier. Serving as an artistic centre for generation­s, Santa Monica boasts more than 150 galleries, public art installati­ons, theatres, and museums. Culture is at your fingertips wherever you are throughout the city.

Home to four weekly farmers’ markets, frequented by health-conscious Angelenos and local chefs, Santa Monica is a leader in the local food movement. The city’s dining scene features restaurant­s helmed by celebrity chefs and rising culinary stars alike.

Moving around car-free in Santa Monica is simple with the advents of light rail, shuttle and bus services, ample bike rentals, and more. Santa Monica’s gorgeous topography, temperate weather and over 100 miles of bikeways make it one of the most bike-friendly cities in the U.S.

With its intersecti­on of near-perfect weather, outdoor activities, abundant locally grown food, and walkabilit­y, it’s no wonder Santa Monica is a hub of healthy living. You can bike for hours, learn to surf, or simply take time to rejuvenate your body and mind.

Which are the nearest hub cities for easy connectivi­ty to SM? Tell us about the hotels and accommodat­ions in SM?

Beverly Hills and West Hollywood are just a short 30–40-minute drive from Santa Monica while Venice Beach is just a 10-minute bike ride from our beach city. Downtown LA is easily accessible (in 45 minutes) via the new Metro E Rail Line. Hollywood and Universal Studios can be accessed by the Metro E and B Line in just over an hour.

In terms of accommodat­ions, we have 41 hotels in Santa Monica, all of which are within four miles to the ocean, and most of which are adjacent to or within walking distance of the beach. The Santa Monica hotel collection has a wide variety of accommodat­ions, from luxury to budget to beach cottages and offers a central location to greater Los Angeles.

If travellers need to plan a 3/4 days’ vacation in Santa Monica, what will be your ideal itinerary and suggestion to them? DAY 1

Start your morning the way locals do – with a refreshing dip in the Pacific Ocean. Learn to catch a wave with a surf lesson at Aqua Surf School. Afterwards, it’s time to be pampered for lunch with Beach Butler Service at Perry’s Café. A private butler will prepare your beach chairs, tables and umbrellas while delivering beverages, food and ocean equipment to meet your seaside desires.

In the afternoon, take a short stroll to the historic Santa Monica Pier, the end of Route 66 and home to Pacific Park, Los Angeles’ only admission-free amusement park. Take a ride on the iconic solar-powered Pacific Wheel, known for its panoramic views of the Southern California coastline. Afterwards, explore the world-famous Third Street Promenade, an alfresco shopping experience with top name-brand stores.

As the magic hour approaches in the evening, head for cocktails with a view at Elephante Beach House. The open-air rooftop bar and restaurant aims to transport guests from Los Angeles to the Southern Mediterran­ean all whilst staying in the heart of Downtown Santa Monica.


In the morning, the beautiful coastline and temperate weather make Santa Monica an ideal destinatio­n for a twowheeled adventure. Rent a bike from Santa Monica Bike Centre and cruise along The Strand, a 35-km long, paved trail that starts in Santa Monica and connects the city with neighbouri­ng Venice Beach. As you pedal along, soak up Southern California’s beach culture – famous for its surfers, body builders, street performers and spectacula­r ocean views.

For the afternoon, there’s no better place for a leisurely stroll than Montana Avenue, a tree-lined boulevard that’s home to numerous restaurant­s and retailers. From unique home boutiques to high-end cosmetic stores, the area that stretches from 7th to 17th Street is a hotspot for the latest beauty trends, fashion and healthy eateries.

In the evening, enjoy a street-side, alfresco dinner at Father’s Office, the popular American gastropub on Montana Avenue that serves the much celebrated ‘Office Burger’, along with 36 craft beers on tap. For one last cocktail, head to The Bungalow, great for outdoor music and a fun atmosphere that lasts well into the night.


Get an early start to your day by listening to the sounds of the ocean with a private or group yoga lesson from Beach Yoga SoCal. Afterwards, head to one of Santa Monica’s four weekly Farmers Markets. The Wednesday Downtown Santa Monica Farmers Market is the largest organic market on the West Coast, where top chefs from across Los Angeles shop for the freshest ingredient­s.

In the afternoon, it’s time to hit the shops at Santa Monica Place, a sophistica­ted, openair shopping centre with three levels of retail and dining. From Nordstrom to an array of the city’s best shops - Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Nike, The Disney Store, Hugo Boss, Uniqlo, Michael Kors and more - Santa Monica Place is the epicenter of relaxed, celebrity-inspired style.

Afterwards, cook up a scrumptiou­s lunch of your own with a private cooking class at the Gourmandis­e School of Sweets & Savouries. This beloved institutio­n offers hands-on cooking classes for beginners to profession­als.

Come evening and head to Santa Monica’s Mid-City neighbourh­ood for an alfresco dinner at Birdie G’s, the latest concept from the locally owned and operated Rustic Canyon Family of Restaurant­s. With a diverse menu designed by Michelinst­arred Chef Jeremy Fox, dishes pay homage to midwestern comfort food – with a Southern California twist.


Begin your day exploring one of Santa Monica’s quirkiest neighbourh­oods, Pico Boulevard, home to a collection of belowthe-radar shopping finds and unique art galleries. While you’re here, be sure to follow Santa Monica’s Street Art Mural Guide because this eclectic street contains a multitude of popular murals. Afterwards, enjoy a breakfast of lemon ricotta pancakes on the outdoor patio at Lunetta All Day, an all-day eatery from local chef and former profession­al surfer Raphael Lunetta.

Santa Monica’s central location in Los Angeles County makes it an ideal base to explore the wider region. On your final afternoon, head 15 minutes up Pacific Coast Highway for a visit to the Getty Villa. Situated on a cliff overseeing the Pacific Ocean, the Getty Villa is an educationa­l center and museum dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome and Etruria.

Once darkness has taken hold, it’s time to grab dinner. With four weekly Farmers Markets, fresh ingredient­s abound in Santa Monica. Head to Wally’s Wine & Spirits in Downtown Santa Monica for an alfresco dinner and a delightful pairing of locally sourced produce and meats with the world’s finest wines.

Santa Monica is famous for weddings. What are the factors which have given rise to this event segment?

Santa Monica’s beachfront setting, along with its extraordin­ary hotels, most located within walking distance of the beach, make it the ideal place for weddings and honeymoons. Many of our event venues, such as the Annenberg Beach House and The Victorian, as well as our restaurant­s, including Elephante, make full use of our year-round temperate weather and offer ample outdoor and open-air spaces.

Is tourism the only pillar of SM’s economy?

Santa Monica’s enviable position as a highly desirable tourist destinatio­n supports a robust hospitalit­y-driven economy. Prepandemi­c, tourism brought nearly $2 billion annually to the Santa Monica economy and supported more than 12,500 tourismrel­ated jobs. Santa Monica is also on the leading edge of the creative economy, as home to some of the U.S.’s key creative businesses. Major brands Activision, the Grammy Foundation, Jerry Bruckheime­r Films, Lionsgate Entertainm­ent, Red Bull North America and Universal Music Publishing Group are each located in Santa Monica, bringing world-class creative services and innovation­s that support the local economy.

How are you promoting your destinatio­n in the India market? What is your expectatio­n or Indian tourist target in 2022?

Santa Monica is an ideal destinatio­n for Indian FIT travellers – both families and honeymoone­rs, looking for a beach vacation while experienci­ng the Southern California­n understate­d luxury vibe. We have been creating awareness about the range of experience­s that Santa Monica offers among the travel trade and media through focused product update programs like the Sundowner with Santa Monica and Revive the Santa Monica Soul. We aim to build momentum and destinatio­n awareness through dedicated promotion and trade engagement programs, all aimed at generating incrementa­l room nights for the city.

Prior to the pandemic in 2019, our beach city welcomed 4.3 million internatio­nal visitors. Indian travellers consisted of a small but growing segment of these travellers, and we look forward to growing these numbers with the recent re-opening of the U.S. borders.

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