Dreaming about escaping to a tropical paradise? Yearning to sit down and enjoy a cafe on Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the city of romance, Paris? Come explore the secret luxuries of travel with your Fashionista411 writer Justin Howard, as he sits down with the editors of LA Travel magazine to chat about the ‘perfect escape.’
Getting Trippy With LA Travel Magazine
Justin Howard – What’s the vision behind ‘LA Travel Magazine’?
Michael Dunn – Our goal is to inspire people to travel all over the world. Our model is 30% Southern California destinations and 70% the rest of the world. It is not only about inspiring Angelenos to see what they can do in LA, but really it is to inspire them to get out and see the beautiful spots around the world. If you look at social media channels like Instagram, you see beautiful pictures and immediately you’re like “Where is that?” We want to inspire people to get out of their comfort zone. To travel more.
Jennifer Mclaughlin – So when you get a chance to go through the magazine you will see we are very visual. We found that resonates with people who want to travel; people really want to be wowed by photos and images. We really hand pick and select the best of the best.
JH – You mentioned you had about 30% LA based content and you were really trying to get Angelenos out into the world. What is your curated mission? When you publish a travel piece, what are the three things that every piece must have?
JM – Luxury, hands down. Diversity. You know there are always the classics, you can’t be reinventing the wheel every time, but there are some really great spots that have been around for years that never get old. Say you haven’t been to a specific location in a year it can be so different from what you remember. A perfect example is Los Angeles, there are so many different neighborhoods and venues that are off the beaten path that it is really just nice to hang out in your own backyard.
We have writers that specialize in certain travel topics, that is something we do a little bit differently than most magazines. We really have gone after specific individuals, we look at ‘who is the leader’ in a specific industry. For example take Ava the spa girl spa travel is all she does. She literally goes around the world and finds the most amazing spa treatments. We also have these two girls that are known as the ‘LA Brunchers’, and they go around and find the best brunch spots in LA and the surrounding areas. I mean who doesn’t want to brunch? If you want to go a new spot every single Sunday, look it up in our magazine! Done deal!
MD – Something totally different, we don’t want to cover just the regular tourist spots. We want to have things that people have never seen before. That is key for us. Really cool unique spots. I think one of the biggest things we offer is diversity in our writers as well. We have writers that focus on art, on history, on museums, on culture. I mean when they go to historic places like Europe, they really focus on that niche, which leads to some truly amazing stories. When you read our writers stories, you get caught up, ‘I want to go there!’ You feel like you are on the trip with them. We have an ‘Ask A Concierge’ column with Sarah Dandashy at the West Hollywood London Hotel, who just won ‘Concierge of The Year’.
JH – Best travel experience? Worst travel experience?
MD – Best travel experience, one that no one can top, was our wedding. We had a fairytale wedding in October of last year in Ireland. It was the most amazing experience of all time. Jennifer came in on a horse drawn carriage while myself and fifty of our best friends and family were waiting for her. It was at Adare Manor, outside Limerick. If you go through our past issues, you will see one of the covers is us.
If you don’t know us, you don’t know it was us, as it is the back of us looking up at the castle as if we were daydreaming of our own wedding. It was a fluke, it wasn’t staged, and it was just our photographer having us shoot a few test shots the day before the wedding. We were wearing decent clothing as we were going to put on our wedding clothes the next day. But when the photographer took the shot – he was like ‘This is the shot guys, I think we got it’. He was right; it was more realistic, more about a couple fantasizing about having their wedding there.
A little story after the wedding, our horse and carriage driver said “would you like to tour the grounds?” and we said “No, take us to the town.” Jennifer had done an interview the day before on the local radio station Limerick FM, and prior to our arrival Kim and Kayne had visited the area during their honeymoon. It was very big news that LA Travel was coming to have a wedding there and overall that Angelenos were interested in traveling to Ireland. We didn’t know at the time but they kept replaying our radio interview the whole weekend. She did the interview on a Friday morning and they ended up playing it all weekend long. People knew when the wedding was, so as soon as we left the gates, we noticed there were people lined in the streets, they had their cameras out and were taking photos. It was like we were royalty. Following the ceremony Adare Manor had given us crystal champagne glasses as a gift so as we were going down the street; we kept toasting everyone in our horse drawn carriage. It was such a special moment. Every single person that came to our wedding, said hands down that it was the best experience they ever had.
JM – One of the best things for us is that most of our family members don’t travel. We were able to share our lives with them and show them what we do on a normal basis. It was so nice seeing them have such an amazing time and we got to be part of those memories with them.
I know my worst travel experience – Russia! Because of the fact that I am a female and apparently they don’t respect women. I didn’t exist to them. We were in Moscow, you would think it would be different but it isn’t. Every time we went anywhere, they would go “Hello, Mister Dunn” and I didn’t exist. We would go to a restaurant, order dinner & wine and they refused to take my order. They would take his order. They would bring him two drinks before they would even acknowledge me. They have no respect for women there and it is really tough. You think it would be more modernized these days. I won’t recommend it anyone.
JH – When you are creating an issue of the magazine, what is the process you go through?
MD – Well we start by looking at what’s new, what’s hot. We do a lot of research to see what’s going in the world and what spots everyone is traveling to. We like to do a lot of stories on the same location but from different viewpoints. For example we will focus on the nightlife in New York and then do a separate article down the road on the best seasonal spas in New York.
JM – We do a lot of destination pieces, where it is a whole experience. But we try to focus on – what is the newest hotel, where haven’t we stay, where haven’t we gone to yet, what is the newest restaurant that everyone is talking about. What is the restaurant all the locals are going to? That is who you really have to hit up, the locals & the concierges – people like Sarah – who have really changed my opinion about the concierge life. She is so well informed. If you are at a high end property and they have a good concierge, you will be led in the right direction. It is very quick, instead of me having to do all the research, I can just ask. Also they can give me their point of view from a local opinion.
JH – What is the one location you want to go to that you haven’t been to get?
MD – The Maldives. We have a couple spots. We travel so much, but when you open your eyes to the world you see that there is so much out there. Last year we went to Paris, Mexico, Brazil, China, the South of France, Ireland and a bunch of local destinations – literally back to back in about six months.
JM – South Africa and Thailand. When we took over the magazine, we said ‘we are going to travel so much that we are going to run out of places to go.’ We were so crazy to think that back then.
JH – What is the one thing you always have in your suitcase when you travel?
MD – My board shorts. I always like to go in the water.
JM – For me, I have like twenty things. I always have to have the newest gadgets, the newest books. One of the perks is that people are always sending you things to try out that haven’t even launched on the market yet.
Fashion & Cultural Writer
LA Travel Magazine
Spa Travel Gal
Ava Roxanne Stritt
Ask A Concierge LA
The LA Brunchers
Kate Roland & Leah Josephson Smith