Showing off the Jewel: Travel writers set to pen La Jolla Stories

Tourism Authority marketing plan brings domestic and international press to town

As part of San Diego Tourism Authority’s (SDTA) 
$3 million international marketing plan for three San Diego “sub-regions,” including Mission Bay, Mission Valley and La Jolla, SDTA public relations manager Robert Arends led six writers from Canada and Mexico on a three-day tour of key La Jolla sites in late November.

SDTA hopes to market La Jolla as a world-class, luxury destination, pitching the Village to both domestic and international travel writers. The yearlong publicity blitz began on July 1 of last year, and has included individual La Jolla visits from writers with Fodor’s travel guides, the Las Vegas Sun, Northwest Travel Magazine and USA Today, as well as a group of 10 Korean travel bloggers, said Arends, who also traveled this year with press kits in hand to pitch La Jolla stories to editors in Canada and Texas.

So far, Arends said the SDTA estimates the effort has generated more than $900,000 in editorial coverage.

The media tour of La Jolla (Nov. 20-23, 2014) included writers representing four Canadian publications, including: British Columbia-based Westworld, a quarterly travel magazine (with a circulation of more than 474,000) and its sister publication, Real Weddings; DreamScapes Travel and Lifestyle magazine (circulation about 144,000); WestJet’s Up! in-flight magazine; and Western Living Magazine (circulation about 144,000).

“This is sort of the Sunset magazine of Canada,” Arends said of Western Living, noting its writer was eager to visit Salk Institute. “She thought that was like the Acropolis of modernism and she just wanted to say that she had seen it,” he said. “She came in a little bit early and I drove her out there and we saw it at twilight.”

In addition, two writers, representing Mexico’s Chic and Chic Passport magazines (“geared toward young, fashionable women,” Arends said) and the daily newspapers Mural (Guadalajara) Reforma (Mexico City) and El Norte (Monterrey), attended the tour.

“Everybody’s guaranteed to produce a really fabulous La Jolla travel story for us,” said Arrends, noting that a couple of writers are expected to produce stories for multiple publications. Each was sent home with a surfboard-shaped USB flash drive including scenic imagery of La Jolla.

“We set up a pretty intensive schedule for them,” Arends said. “La Jolla is the coastal jewel of San Diego, so we wanted to do all the finer things that La Jolla is known for — fine dining, luxurious hotels and resorts, and the world-class arts and culture scene, including the Tony Award-winning La 
Jolla Playhouse, museums and art galleries and then seeing the upscale shopping along Prospect Street.”

The writers lodged for three nights at La Valencia Hotel, dining there in both The Med and Café la Rue. They also dined at Brockton Villa, George’s at the Cove, NINE-TEN restaurant (Grande Colonial Hotel), A.R. Valentien (The Lodge at Torrey Pines) and The Marine Room (the latter of which was followed by a visit to La Jolla Playhouse to see “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.

“That evening in particular was probably the big ‘wow moment’ for the group,” Arends said. “They were shocked that La Jolla had New York/Broadway-caliber theater. I said, ‘In fact, we launch shows to Broadway, and this is a good example of that.’ ”

Additional activities included: a trek down to Sunny Jim’s Cave through the Cave Store; a trip to Mt. Soledad Natural Park; a walking tour of the Village with La Jolla Historical Society Executive Director Heath Fox (including the Murals of La Jolla); a tour of La Jolla’s art and design district led by Monarch Fine Art gallery owner Elsie Arrendondo; and a wine reception at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library.

During a stop at Scripps Park, Arends said the scribes were “tickled” to see the lone Monterrey Cypress tree in Scripps Park, the inspiration for Truffula trees in the 1971 children’s book “The Lorax,” by the late La Jollan, Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel.

“They got a kick out of that, seeing this little puffy tree in the middle of the park,” Arends said. “We told them, ‘This is our Dr. Seuss Tree.’