By Cathy Bartrop | October 2016 | 10 minute read
With its must-see cities, coastal drives, national parks and beaches, California takes the breath away at every twist in the road.
“Next year will see the 10th anniversary of the California SuperFAM and we plan to launch the incentive scheme much earlier than in previous years. Places are based on flight sales, so now is the time to get trained up and promote California” ”
BRENDAN CROFT, TRAVEL TRADE ACCOUNT MANAGER, VISIT CALIFORNIA
Happy 100th Birthday: The U.S. National Parks Service is celebrating its centenary and California has more than its fair share. In Spring 2017 the famous Mariposa Grove in Yosemite – home to some of the tallest trees in the world - will re-open
Feel the love in San Francisco: 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the infamous ‘Summer of Love’ – one to highlight to music-loving (or (former hippie) clients
Go car free in LA: The long-awaited opening of three Exposition Line stations in Santa Monica now connects the beach directly with Downtown LA and beyond to Hollywood (for Universal Studios) and Pasadena
Family fun: Combine an LA beach holiday with Universal Studios’ new Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Legoland California’s latest ride NINJAGO
Hit the beach: California’s coastline possesses dazzling beaches – take your pick from hidden coves, long sweeps of soft sand and some of the world’s best surfing spots
Go big, Go Mammoth: Olympic Gold medal snowboarder Shawn White is part owner of Mammoth Resorts and is instrumental in raising the ski bar for Mammoth Mountain in Northern California as well as Snow Summit and Bear Mountain in the South
The cultural centre: The Central Coast is a hub for contemporary arts. As well as historic sites like Monterey’s Cannery Row and Salinas’ National Steinbeck Center, there’s a ton of museums, galleries, performance venues and theatres from Santa Barbara down to Carmel
Wine tourism: Napa Valley steals the limelight but surprisingly only produces 4% of California’s wine. Also consider wine trails in Sonoma County and Paso Robles
Where the cool kids go: Palm Springs, famous as the holiday hangout for Hollywood celebs back in the 1950s is still a hot favourite with 21st century hipsters. Coachella festival is the music magnet and now complimented by Desert X, a contemporary celebration of art and visual culture
The F word: F for Food that is, and Farmers markets, Farm to Fork restaurants, Fusion, Family Friendly, Funky Fast Food. Sacramento, the state capital, is fast becoming the next foodie Mecca
It is perhaps impossible to ‘oversell’ California. Think desert, snow-capped mountains, forests, vibrant cities, a stunning coastline, music, arts, nature, wine, food, sports and adventure activities.
So familiar to us through TV shows and movies, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego need little introduction, but how much do you know about the Shasta Wilderness region, with forests bigger than Belgium and a dam with a spill three times as high as Niagara? Or Sacramento and Gold County, where James Marshall’s sawmill in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada sparked the Gold Rush?
The appeal of the ‘big blue’ of Lake Tahoe should not be overlooked and new wine trails emerge almost every year. And, in the year that the USA celebrates the 100th birthday of its National Parks Service, California boasts no less than nine, including the Daddy of them all, Yosemite.
For road trips or escorted tours, five different gateways offer plenty of flexibility for round- trips or one-way routes. With careful planning, the distances are manageable and plenty of variety can be packed into one holiday. But one trip will never be enough to see all that the Golden State offers.
Keep an eye on Selling Travel and traveltrade.visitcalifornia.co.uk for more details on the 2017 California SuperFAM.
What the experts say
“In 2015 the UK accounted for more than 701,000 visitors to California and that looks set to increase even further with the major growth in airlift in 2016. The state now has 116 weekly non-stop flights into California across five gateway cities; Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland. Couple that with the vast number of new hotels opening across the length of the state, from five-star luxury resorts to hideaway hotels in National Parks, and there has never been a better time to visit the Golden State. The key focus for Visit California for the coming year is the family market and promoting our luxury offering.”
EMMA WESTMAN, SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER, VISIT CALIFORNIA UK & IRELAND
Airlines: Low-cost airlines, Wow and Norwegian are driving down fares to both LAX and San Francisco (Oakland). British Airways has a new direct route to San Jose while Aer Lingus has restarted its service from Dublin to LAX.
Rush Creek Lodge is the first new-build resort in the Yosemite region for over 25 years.
On the coast, in Santa Cruz both Brookdale Lodge and the Chaminade Resort & Spa have undergone multi-million dollar renovations. The oceanfront Pasea Hotel opened in Huntington Beach in June and The Ranch at Laguna Beach has been re-envisioned as a premier boutique coastal ranch resort.
San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter now has the ‘hip and healthy’ Pendry Hotel. Frank Sinatra’s historic North Lake Tahoe hotel, CalNeva, has been restored to its former glory. In San Francisco, the Hotel Zeppelin is a welcome addition of contemporary accommodation in a historic building just two blocks from Union Square.
For top-end clients travelling to LA and looking for home comforts, check out the glamorous private homes on offer through Onefinestay. Homes are vetted by four separate inspectors and have to pass 132 quality standards to be featured. These ‘des res’ are especially suitable for large groups or longer stays.
Where to book it
Trafalgar Tours has an eight-day Northern California fully-escorted tour from £1950pp, twinshare. New for 2017 is an eight-day California’s Great National Parks tour (from £2095pp, twin share). A 10% discount applies on bookings made before 25 Nov ‘16. Flights not included.
A sun and snow combo from Ski Independence with three nights in LA at the five-star Loews Santa Monica and seven nights at the four-star Mammoth Village, is from £1,999pp, BA flights and car hire included