IRVINE, CA—Have sunshine, will travel. The Meritage Collection might have cornered the market on this natural resource with luxury properties in sun-drenched locations such as California and Hawaii. Capitalizing on these destinations, the brand is inviting travelers to explore beyond the basics and uncover the regions’ hidden gems.
Aptly named the “Sunshine Series” in collaboration with luxury-travel company Studio Black Tomato, the Meritage Collection aims to offer six hyper-local video itineraries to round out the guest experience at each of their properties.
“We believe we have these iconic locations up and down the coast, but we want to really provide a unique experience versus just iconic locations. That’s what our DNA is,” said Steve Arnold, president and CEO, Pacific Hospitality. “We want to be a luxury lifestyle, not only in locations, but in creating great experiences for our guests.”
The impetus for the project came out of building The Meritage Resort in Napa Valley, CA from the ground up. The Pacific Hospitality Group team, which manages the properties in the collection, spent a great deal of time in the area through the development, opening and subsequent expansion of the resort.
“We wanted to experience the Napa Valley while we were up here and we had a great opportunity to do that. You can go to Napa and do wine tastings and have great experiences that are unique to the area, so it started with this property,” said Arnold. “We acquired Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa in La Jolla, CA; Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara, CA; and Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach, CA—each location is a great property and it’s great to kick back at them. People wanted more, so we expanded upon that.”
It’s all about traveling like a local these days. Through websites and online searches, guests are doing plenty of research before they book a hotel room. “There’s so much available through the internet and we wanted to provide a locally inspired experience and another layer of service by helping our guests as they’re trying to find unique options,” he said.
As evident through the partnership on the “Sunshine Series,” it’s clear that both the Meritage Collection and Studio Black Tomato keenly understand that a hotel stay goes far beyond simply checking into a room.
“The Meritage Collection came to Studio Black Tomato looking to dramatize the unique connection it has created between each of its properties and the respective locations,” said Tom Marchant, cofounder of Black Tomato. “We believe it’s all about the destination and the locals you find there and how the property showcases the best of its locale and, of course, how it makes the guest feel even long after his or her visit. The Meritage Collection hotels work very closely with local communities and offer genuinely unique activities for their guests and this was the core message we wanted to communicate.”
When putting together the bookable itineraries, both teams sought to showcase the wealth of experiences and activities that can be discovered in various Hawaiian and Californian locales. Studio Black Tomato handpicked its favorite experiences from the properties and in the local area for guests to experience such as paddleboarding the coastline of La Jolla, CA; taking a hot air balloon ride over the Napa vineyards with a glass of Californian champagne in hand; and biking the trails in the hilltops of California.
“If you look at the video for Ko’a Hotel & Resort in Kauai, Hawaii, we have one of our managers talk about the area and you get this great feeling of the people and culture; but, then we highlight the local rum company and talk about how the sugarcane from the island is used to produce their rum,” said Arnold. “You probably wouldn’t think of a rum company when traveling to Hawaii, but it’s this cool, local experience. In 2.5 minutes, you get a great feel for the island, the coast and the beauty of the local beaches and the waterfalls, so I think these videos capture each destination not just the resort. It’s about the experience around the resort.”
Measuring the effectiveness of the program will be key and Studio Black Tomato is confident based on the quality of the content product that the “Sunshine Series” will elevate the brand for months and years to come, noted Marchant.
“Additionally, there are several measurable factors at play here, from brand awareness to long- and short-term bookings. We will be monitoring the engagement levels on social media, website traffic and video channels continuously,” said Marchant. “We hope this to be the start of a long, productive relationship with the Meritage Collection. There are numerous synergies between both brands in terms of delivering a commitment to creating lifestyle-driven luxury experiences for our clients.”