Last week, Visit California held its annual Outlook Forum at the lovely Langham Hotel in Pasadena (read: out of office day for our team). The conference, which is focused on promoting California tourism, featured global industry experts who shared the latest marketing research, strategies and tactics in driving visitors to our great and beautiful state.
These sorts of seminars are always beneficial for two reasons –
1) It’s the perfect time to connect with others in the industry
2) You do ALWAYS learn something! It can be something as simple as the newest traveler trends (note, though China is the fastest growing market for California visitors, research is showing that Brazil is hot on their heels). Or it can be little more complex such as developing your brand. Either way, the content is always strong, fresh and extremely relevant.
This year, Visit California has selected the theme #DreamBig as its slogan. And why not? After all, California is known as a land of dreamers. Musicians, artists, architects, entrepreneurs, actors, adventurers, beach lovers, and more have all flocked to the golden state for their golden dream. The Mamas and the Papas wrote a song about it. NBC had a 90s television show titled after the idea. The beloved Pretty Woman references it in the opening credits. Pop singer Katy Perry had one of her world tours named after it. I mean, even Dr. McDreamy lives here! The list goes on and on.
As I listened to the keynote, I couldn’t help but notice all the heads nodding in agreement over the idea of California dreaming. I got to thinking how many people in the room had moved to California for their own dreams or have been inspired by the aspirations of others. I think Visit CA struck gold (pun intended) when creating this marketing message. It resonates soundly with others – who doesn’t have a dream?
And, so I ask, what’s your California dream?
Happy 2014! Welp, we’re three weeks into the New Year, and I’m pleased to report that I’ve already crossed one item off my “Marina-2014-bucket-list” – whale watching! Getting out on the water to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat has always been one of my favorite parts of winter, and when I learned that Marina del Rey Sportfishing offers daily excursions right out of the Marina, the decision was easy. No traffic. No travel. No brainer.
On the morning of our trip, we arrived at Dock 52 on Fiji Way at 9:30 am for our 10 am departure (Captain’s orders). While we waited in line, the day’s excitement was building with chatter and squeals of hopes of what was to come. Would we spot whales? Would we see a pod? A breach? A fluke? Would there be a variety of breeds? I mean, the previous week there had been sightings of orcas…ORCAS!!
At 10 am sharp, the Matt Walsh boat pulled to the dock, and we all hopped aboard. The boat was equipped with restrooms, inside seating space, and even had a light food service area which dished out breakfast burritos, grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers and hosted a small array of snacks (cash only).
As our journey began, the captain steered us south of the Marina, toward the Palos Verdes peninsula with Catalina Island in clear sight. On board with us, were two naturalists from the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium who shared informational guides about whales, highlighting the types of whales we were most likely to see. These two women were so knowledgeable about marine life and gave us tips on how to spot whales, among other interesting facts.
Soon enough, we spotted a “blow,” which was immediately followed by the reveal of the backside of a grey whale (cue shrieks of excitement from the crowd). The “blow” (aka water coming up through the whale’s blowhole) turned out to be a marker for the whale’s whereabouts. We kept our eyes peeled for the “blow” as we waited patiently for our new friend to emerge from the sea. And it did! Every few minutes we were graced with its presence, even showing its fluke (or tail) three times! The fluke sighting was a first for me, and I couldn’t help but applaud every time it was shown. To see that in nature was truly breathtaking.
Alas, the time had come to return to the Marina. We watched as our new friend slipped back into the ocean, but not before waving us good-bye with one final fluke reveal. Soon after, the boat turned around and we cruised along the coast, until docking in the Marina at 1 pm – a total three hour tour (sans Gilligan).
Once back on land, I couldn’t help but sit back and reflect on the wonder that we just witnessed. What an amazing sight to see, and it’s just one more “to do” here in the Marina. I’m thinking this might be my first of several trips aboard the Matt Walsh. Thank you Marina del Rey Sportfishing for a Sunday to remember!
Holiday festivities are in full swing here in the Marina and the cheer is undeniably contagious. From hotel decorations and holiday menus/celebrations to the 51st Annual Boat Parade, the excitement is filling the air and our hearts with a ton of smiles and happiness.
Here in the office, our Pandora stations are swirling with holiday hits (as I type this “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” is jammin’) and our festive spirit is displayed through decor and seasonal scents (think cinnamon and spice). Special shout-out to Karen S. for decorating the office so beautifully!
Even the telephone got some love!
We’ve also been spoiled by our wonderful partners and vendors who keep trickling in like Santa’s elves with delicious treats and sweet greetings. Is that Mrs. Beasley’s I see? As our marketing manager, Tere S., would say “Yum-O!”
Tis the Season, indeed, and we’re wishing everyone a wonderful Holiday season filled with tremendous joy and love. We thank you for your continued support and are thrilled with your enthusiasm for our community. Happy Holidays from all of us at the Marina del Rey Visitors Bureau – Santa, included!
My fellow office mates wanted to experience something I’ve done often with my kids and Boy/Girl Scouts – a bon fire at Dockweiler State Beach. So with very little encouragement (literally, I jumped at the chance), I agreed to organize one. With my “Girl Scout” ways, here are my very special hints for the use of the pits at Dockweiler.
#1: If you want a pit, arrive EARLY. How early depends on the time of year and the weather. During the hot summer months (think May through September), the pits are in heavy demand, especially on the weekends.
#2: Bring everything you need – and I mean everything – for your event. The cost of parking will run between $6 (weekday, low season) to $10 (weekend, high season) and there are no in/outs. If you have to leave, you must pay again. And there is nowhere on the beach to purchase items that you might needs. There is some street parking on Vista del Mar, BUT READ THE SIGNS!
#3: Your “To Bring” list should include:
1. Wood and charcoal (wood for that nice bon fire and charcoal for cooking). Both can be purchased at the local Ralph’s in Marina del Rey. You may only burn clean wood (nothing treated with paint, nails, etc.) in the pits.
2. Firestarter and matches or a lighter of some sort. You can purchase solid fire starters from any hardware story, sporting goods store or make your own as I do – use a cardboard egg carton, fill it with dryer lint or wood shavings and melt down old candles to fill each “cup” with wax and the ignitable materials. Break off a cup, light the cardboard and watch how easy it is to start your fire, even when windy.
3. If cooking, bring a grate (take the one from your home barbeque). When using the grate, position it so that the ends are level and supported by two large pieces of wood, your charcoal beneath. You can now use pots or pans.
4. Camping coffee pot to heat water for hot chocolate, instant coffee (Starbucks has a great variety) or hot tea and a gallon of bottled water. There is nothing better than something hot when it’s cold on the beach.
5. Long handling grilling sticks (purchase from the camping department of Sports Chalet, Marina del Rey or another sporting goods store). The grilling sticks are great for hot dogs, kabobs, marshmallows, etc.
6. Hot glove or mitt. Things DO get hot over a fire. I happen to love the ‘OvGlove’ product as it allows me to handle the wood as well as hot pots.
7. Whatever food you plan to share or cook. Keep things in a cooler until ready to cook or eat. Also bring the items to use for cooking, but keep it SIMPLE. Bring the chili in its pot, ready to heat on the grill. Don’t forget serving spoons, tongs, etc. Depending on the menu, I usually make a list of stuff like this. If we’re doing a potluck, I bring extra serving spoons or plastic utensils because most people don’t remember to bring them. I put all of this in one box, along with some foil and ziplock bags – never know when you’ll need it!
8. Paper plates, utensils, hot cups for hot drinks, napkins and wet wipes. I try to look for environmentally friendly items. If someone wants to burn their used plate, I want to be sure they can responsibly.
9. Cold drinks in a cooler with ice; a bag to recycle the plastic bottles and/or cans.
10. Beach chairs, blankets or towels to sit on. Suggest everyone bring their own, as well as a sweatshirt to wear when it gets cold.
11. Camp/beach table for food. Bring one that’s easy to carry, but can hold a lot.
#4: Whatever you bring, remember that you’ll need to carry it across the sand…to the pit and back…and back to the parking lot at the end of the evening. So only take what you really need and invite your guests to bring their own beach chairs and blankets.
#5: Remember that there are no life guards and that the beach (including parking lot and bathroom) closes at 10pm. Also, most of the street parking doesn’t allow you to stay later.
#6: Above all, enjoy your bon fire!
Susanne – Travel Counselor, Marina del Rey Visitors Center
They say orange is the new black and if you’ve traveled along Admiralty Way recently, you may have noticed its new outfit of orange cones, caution signs and open trenches. Yes, infrastructure improvements are well underway, but never fear! Once complete, the Marina’s main stretch will sparkle with smooth pavement and even smoother commutes.
In light of the construction efforts, our beloved restaurants are offering some pretty sweet deals to patrons. We’re talking about a culinary merry-go-round of specialty drinks, 2-for-1 deals and discounts of 10 percent. No hard hats are needed to enjoy waterfront views and that signature Marina del Rey hospitality so why not stay in style this season and join the fun? Your wallet will thank you and with the Holidays right around the corner, that ain’t a bad thing.
Enter the “Marina Dine Zone” with special offers from the following establishments:
Beachside Restaurant (at the Jamaica Bay Inn); Café del Rey; California Pizza Kitchen; Glow Lounge (at the Marriott Marina del Rey); Killer Shrimp; Marina Grill & Bar (at the Hilton Garden Inn); Stones Restaurant (at the Marriott Marina del Rey); The Counter; Tony P’s Dockside Grill & Bar; and Whiskey Red’s (formerly Shanghai Red’s).
Click here to see what each restaurant is offering!