West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board led a delegation of hoteliers to Melbourne and Sydney earlier this month to meet with trade partners and travel advisors.
The organisation has a long history of coming to Australia in recognition of the support the local industry provides. After a two-year pandemic pause in 2020 and 2021, Visit West Hollywood (as the organisation also goes by) sent a mission down under last year while the local outbound industry was still finding its feet after being shut down to international travel by COVID.
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This month’s visit included representatives from seven of Visit West Hollywood’s 21 hotel members, along with a team of four from the organisation, including Jeff Morris, Chief Marketing Officer, whose last visit was in 2019. The delegation included reps from The London West Hollywood, Mondrian Los Angeles, Andaz West Hollywood, 1 Hotel West Hollywood, Sunset Marquis, Ramada West Hollywood, and Springboard Hospitality (Chamberlain West Hollywood, Le Parc at Melrose, Montrose West Hollywood, and Hotel Ziggy).
Morris told LATTE that West Hollywood is a city that “packs a punch for its size”. At only 4 square kilometres in size, West Hollywood is the “epicentre of Los Angeles”, he says, and offers visitors “the quintessential experience that you think of when you come to LA – hotels, restaurants, entertainment, nightlife and shopping.”
There are three distinct neighbourhoods in West Hollywood – Sunset Strip, Santa Monica Boulevard and the Design District, each with its own traits.
“The Sunset Strip is famous for its nightclubs – classic rock’n’roll venues such as Whisky a Go Go, The Roxy, The Viper Room – and since the pandemic has undergone a renaissance with three new luxury hotels,” Morris said.
They are Pendry West Hollywood (a division of the Montage Group) which opened at the former site of the House of Blues – a landmark destination for many years; 1 Hotel West Hollywood which debuted just before the pandemic; and The West Hollywood EDITION – a brand new build, on the corner of Sunset and Doheny offering some of the best views of LA from the rooftop.
Morris said Santa Monica Boulevard, identified now as the Rainbow District as it’s so inclusive with a string of gay bars, and a lively nightlife, has “really been reinvigorated with all kinds of restaurants and always something going on”. The neighbourhood is a fun, walkable and diverse location, and is, of course, the start of the famous Route 66 across the United States.
Further south is the Design District, bound between Melrose Avenue, Beverly Boulevard and Robinson. It’s mostly boutique shopping. The Design District is home to a luxe shopping district of 200+ storefronts that cater to the most discerning tastes.
“It’s not like what you would find in Beverly Hills,” Morris says, with state-of-the-art, up and coming and new boutiques, along with a mix of pop-ups. “It feels like a real neighbourhood and provides an authentic experience.”
Morris said Australia is one of West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board’s key markets, often tussling with the UK as the Californian destination’s top international source. He said typically the Australian traveller will spend three to four nights in West Hollywood, using the city as a hub to explore Los Angeles more broadly before continuing a road trip either north to Santa Barbara, west to Las Vegas or south to San Diego.
He said visitors don’t need a vehicle while in West Hollywood as the precinct is so accessible.
“We’re the heart of LA. If your client wants a stay in the centre of LA, West Hollywood makes the most sense. You don’t need a car in West Hollywood as it’s a very walkable destination. And taking Uber’s is super easy. Santa Monica Beach is a 20-minute Uber in one direction, the Hollywood Bowl is 20 minutes in the opposite direction. And it’s an easy drive to Universal Studios in 10 to 20 minutes, depending on traffic.”
While West Hollywood’s domestic travel returned in force last year with hoards of Angelenos making the most of staycation opportunities, the Australian market still has some recovery to go.
“Business hasn’t fully recovered. Some months are on par with 2019 – there’s an ebb and flow,” he said of overall business.
“International air uplift to Los Angeles is yet to be fully restored and indications suggest that won’t be restored until late 2024/2025. Flight pricing needs to normalise, especially for the leisure market,” Morris added.
A handful of other new luxury hotels are under consideration for West Hollywood in the coming years, one of which being an independent property called Robertson Lane that recently broke ground on Santa Monica Boulevard. Owned by locals, the property will be in the Design District and is slated to open in late 2024.
Visit West Hollywood is represented in Australia by Gate7 and works in collaboration with Brand USA.
Lead image: The delegation included, from left: Sean Keliiholokai, Chief of Sales at West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board; Jeff Morris, Chief of Marketing at West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board; Wendy Yip, Area Director of Leisure Sales at 1 Hotel West Hollywood; Julian Tucker, General Manager at Andaz West Hollywood; Jeanie Yom, Director of Travel Industry Sales at The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills; Robert Nichols, Director of Entertainment Sales at Mondrian Los Angeles; Paola Zevallos, Account Manager Travel Trade at Gate 7; Brandon McBain, Area Director Sales and Marketing at Springboard Hospitality; Miyoshi Thair, Director of Sales and Marketing at Sunset Marquis; and Bill Karpiak, General Manager at Ramada West Hollywood.