Beautiful landscapes, scrumptious food and out-of-the-box activities made the Californian road trip a treat for Cover Star Sue Mackintosh. She talks to Stephen Penn.

Q. Had you ever been to California before?
A. I have visited a lot of the east coast of America, but never much of the west. Having the opportunity to visit California was very exciting and turned out to be better than I could have hoped for.

Q. How was business class?
A. It makes such a difference flying business class with British Airways. Going to the lounge means you start your trip in style and on the flight, having more space in the plush seats makes all the difference. When you add the food and drink, it would be hard for anyone to go back to economy.

Q. How did you find Los Angeles?
A. I expected LA to be frantic from what I had seen in the movies and on the TV, but when I got there my mind was changed. It had such a relaxing vibe. With pavement-side coffee shops and a laid-back attitude, it felt very comfortable and not at all what I imagined.

Q. Did you see any celebrities?
A. When we went for dinner on one of the first nights in West Hollywood, I was walking up the stairs to the restaurant and Bill Murray was standing at the top. I am not one who keeps up to date with celebrity gossip, but I was a massive
fan of Ghostbusters when I was younger, so that was a memory I will treasure.

Q. Where did you move onto after LA?
A. We were lucky enough to travel to Pismo Beach where we had the chance to ride dune buggies. I had never done anything like that before and probably wouldn’t have arranged to do it myself, but it was an exhilarating experience. I don’t think I have ever laughed more in my life, and now I recommend this to
all my clients visiting California.

Q. How was your photoshoot?
A. It took place straight after dune-buggying, so I was suffering from a bit of helmet hair, but despite that it was fantastic. We did it at Tolosa Winery, where the staff were wonderful. We had stunning wine paired with delicious flatbreads, which was a nice treat after the photo shoot.

Q. What else did you get up to?
A. One activity I loved was horse riding with Central Coast Trail Rides. It was such a unique way to see the landscape and watch the beautiful sunset.

Q. How did you enjoy Santa Cruz?
A. Sailing out to sea surrounded by honking sea lions and sipping champagne was something I never imagined would happen. This was followed by a barbecue, where we toasted marshmallows, and terrific company. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Q. What was the most exciting part of your trip?
A. The night market in San Luis Obispo was incredible. It is a university town, and every Thursday night they host an outdoor market that comes alive with wonderful food, music and entertainment. The ambience was magical.

Q. How did you spend your final day?
A. The rest of the Cover Stars went zip-lining at Mount Vernon, which I couldn’t do because of my bad knees. Even though I didn’t take part, it was a wonderful place to visit. I was very impressed with the diverse landscape that California has to offer. On the drive there, we went from flat open coastal spaces to impressively dense woodlands.


Sue’s sales tips

Recommend a room with a view: California has a stunning coast that must be enjoyed

Know your market: West Hollywood is great for younger clients, but less so for older couples.

Set up an itinerary: This will help set a route and allows clients to try something new.


Sue on…Californian culinary delights

Food is such a large part of travel, but before I visited I had counted out California, expecting that it would be typical convenience food. How wrong I was. During the trip we got to sample beautiful food in so many places. We enjoyed the most delicious flatbreads and cheeses at the Tolosa Winery and had very elegant meals in West Hollywood restaurants. California was also great for healthy eating, with the most impressive selection of produce you could imagine at the night market, and at every breakfast there was an awe-inspiring fruit platter. To top it all off, the food was no more expensive than you would get in the UK. I would advise everyone to really get to know about the quality of local food on offer in a destination and help clients sample the finest culinary delights.