A girl in ruby red slippers once famously said about Kansas, “There’s no place like home.” We would like to modify that quote. We think there’s no place like California! From the glittering sapphire that is the Pacific Ocean to the vineyards of Napa to the mountains that dot the Golden State, California has something for everyone! Our CSI DMC team agrees! California is the land of beautiful beaches, home to some of the best wines in the world, and a state that can boast about gorgeous year-round weather. Here’s what our favorite Californians have been up to lately:
Need an outdoor venue for some fun under the California sun? Yvonne Brown, CSI DMC Event Manager, recommends the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station. Yvonne says, “When considering a venue that has it all: food, drinks, and fun with a view, I always think about the Stone Brewing Bistro. They have a 5,000 sq ft outdoor Astro turfed space that can accommodate up to 300 guests. Plus, they have this cool philanthropic cause where they donate proceeds during the summer to the Surfrider Foundation, who help protect our beaches.” Conservation with a craft beer? Name a better duo!
Amanda Murphy, Creative Services Manager, recommends the Moniker Warehouse. She raves, “The Moniker is in this cool, historic warehouse that used to be a bakery. They kept the bones of the building, remodeled it, and added an expansion of 1,500 sq ft to include a bright and open cocktail area as the main entryway leading into an industrial, rustic main space. When it’s not in use for events, the venue doubles as a workspace for storytellers, dreamers, and people trying to get their art across. I love that the venue is always operating!”
However, if a beach setting is the goal, the best place to see the San Diego beach, Kelly Lannom, Senior Event Manager and California native, shares, “Hotel del Coronado is the queen of Coronado and possibly San Diego. Full of history and beauty, it is not a place you will ever forget. The hotel is undergoing a massive $400 million dollar renovation. They are honoring the history and charm of the venue while adding the Shore House, a breathtaking ‘beach house’ setting that offers jaw dropping views of the ocean while lounging poolside.” Kelly adds, “The Hotel del Coronado is also adding a 15,130 sq ft ballroom that will open onto the 14,040 sq ft Southpointe Lawn that features the gorgeous hotel. Renovations will be completed by the fall, so we are already booking events for clients who are wanting to be the first to take in the beautiful changes.”
Jennifer Jones loves the San Diego beach but is also a fan of the Santa Monica Beach. Says the Senior Account Executive, “We just did an event at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, who recently completed a renovation that is part of the hotel: The Pacific Garden. It sits on the ground level next to the sand, offering amazing views of the sunset and beach. The event was incredible! We had performers on roller skates direct our guests across the Santa Monica Pier as part of a dine around experience. Seeing all our smiling guests with the roller skaters and banners was awesome.” Jennifer says, “Clients love how livelier entertainment makes the guests feel like they are part of a memorable event. There were plenty of selfies with the roller-skating crew that day!”
Courtney Ikeda, Director of Sales with one of our preferred culinary partners, agrees that guests are craving an interactive experience. She says, “It’s all about the experience! We crave sharing good food with friends and family…what better way to end an evening than with ‘sensational treats’ that adds flavorful entertainment to your special occasion. Nitrogen Ice Cream, Dragon Popcorn, Bananas Foster, and fresh hot Mini Donuts made to order…. to name just a few!” Nitrogen Ice Cream? Yum!
Guests are also looking for ways to capture fun moments and working with great partners in California is key to great capture. One of our favorite partners saw well beyond the need for photo booths, video booths, and 360 video photo booths. They jumped in and upgraded one of their Airstreams. “Besides the new flooring, new A/C, new stabilizers there is now a service door and bar with sink and water evacuation that allows the airstream to be used as a bar or food service as well as any pop-up store.”, shared Lauren Groult. Guests can now have that glam 360-degree snap of their fun event.
Of course, a gorgeous state like California can’t be all work and no play. Leslie Gilfillan, Senior Account Executive, and native Californian spends her free time exploring her beautiful state. Leslie proclaims, “California is amazing, from the Desert to the Shore, the mountains and valleys – we have it all!” She goes on to add, “Some of the best wineries in the world – Napa. Everyone must experience Napa at least once in their life. After a trip to a winery, enjoy some of the best cuisines that can be found in San Francisco, just a few short hours away. You can ski on some of the most amazing slopes or enjoy world-class surfing…we truly have it all!” Amanda agrees, “I can do desert, beach, mountains, and Mexico all in one day!” Amanda also adds, “The amazing weather and abundance of activities to do outdoors makes it easy to go see a new musician or capture the California sunset at a restaurant like Bali Hai.” A secret gem for Janice Finn, Creative Services Manager, is George’s at the Cove in La Jolla, California. “I always take out of town guests to George’s. It is this gorgeous restaurant that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, and the food is incredible.”
In terms of the best time to visit the Golden State, Alexandra Swanson, Creative Director, and Lead Designer with one of our preferred rental partners, says, “The best time to visit southern CA is October! The weather is a perfect 70-75 and the water is still warmer… but you are no longer dealing with the summer beach crowd.” Jenny Martin, Director of Upper Club Events, from the Bel-Air Bay Club agrees that fall, going into winter, is a wonderful time to be in California for an event. She says, “The weather is seldom an issue. We have hosted many events outdoors on our ocean view lawn from December through February”. The Bel-Air Bay Club recently completed some renovations, to include removing “the side walls of the living room to allow and expanded 360 ocean view,” adds Jenny. It is safe to say that sunny, beachy, California is the place to consider while the rest of the country is looking at winter wonderlands.
Derrick Gilday, founder, and CEO of Umbrella Ship, shares, “Working in California is FUN! It has an innovative start-up culture that allows companies to feel comfortable experimenting with the status quo of typical company culture. We had a client that wanted employees to feel comfortable in the CEO’s office. He said, ‘Let them play and have fun!’ What ensued was fifteen different on-the-spot collaborative performances of 7-10 people doing everything from dancing on his desk to using office supplies and mementos as theatrical props. And to top it off, this CEO was 60 years young!”
As expected, booking an event at a hot destination like California comes with some challenges. “California is back! The city is buzzing with new restaurants and activities to partake in!”, exclaims Jennifer. This comes with a few obstacles like, “Supply and demand… our industry is booming and there is more competition for venues, services and goods.” “Long range planning has become a necessity to ensure availability.”, says Yvonne. She adds, “vendor Covid-related cancellations are always a possibility. Expanding our network of trusted and vetted suppliers allows our team to act quickly to minimize and eliminate service interruptions. We love going beyond expectations for our clients to make sure that their event is a success.”
The state that touts itself as the avocado and almond capital of the world is indeed back! We knew it was only a matter of time before the Hollywood hills sign lit up again, welcoming us back with golden rays of sunshine along the beach. And if there is one thing that is more important than ever before – crafting an event that gets people to connect while having fun is always a win-win.
Ready to create your next exceptional experience in California? CSI DMC is ready for you!