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Location is stunning, and on a clear day you can see all the way to Catalina.
Spa is dynamite, offering 50,000 square feet of wellness, fitness and pampering.
Eco-friendly initiatives and farm-to-table food are a draw.
Beach on the property is too rough and rocky for swimming.
Parking is not included with the resort fee, with the valet option being $45 a night.
Check-in and check-out times aren't ideal.
Set on 102 pristine acres on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Terranea Resort offers a quintessential, Southern California luxury escape, just 45 minutes from LAX airport. Opened more than a decade ago, the Mediterranean, village-inspired property is still one of a few full-service resorts on the lower half of the California coast.
The general area and the resort have hosted many celebrities over the years, and have often been used as a filming location for movies and TV shows, like This Is 40, The O.C., The Aviator, and Charlie’s Angels. It was also the setting of the fairytale wedding of Bachelor Jason Mesnick and Molly Malaney in 2010.
Upon arrival, the long driveway of the Terranea Resort ends in a tree-dotted circle, punctuated with a gurgling fountain. It is not uncommon to see Rolls Royces or Teslas surrounding the main building’s entrance, which itself looks like an Italian villa.
The lobby spreads out, like a classy, yet comfortable living room full of windows that overlook the grounds and the Pacific Ocean. Under a wooden-beamed ceiling, there is plenty of upholstered and high-backed seating, where you can enjoy the roaring fire in winter, a drink from the lobby bar (which also has seating), or the sounds of tickled ivories, should someone be playing the grand piano in the corner.
While there is no signature scent pumped throughout the hotel, the cleansing ocean breeze blows through the compound, bringing with it light hints of lavender, jasmine, rosemary, and sage—all of which grow heartily around the grounds.
Bellmen can take your luggage to your room or show you to your quarters. These services are offered at check-in.
There are 582 guestrooms and suites, which include standard hotel rooms and suites, located in the same building as the lobby. You can also enjoy spacious casitas, adults-only bungalows with fitness equipment. Plus, there are multi-bedroom villas that overlook the golf course and feature full kitchens, garages, and dining rooms.
All basic rooms range between 450 and 500 square feet and feature a private balcony or a patio with at least a partial ocean view. They come with a King bed or two doubles. Everything in the rooms is high-end: Flat-screen TVs are enormous, soaking tubs are deep, mattresses are pillow-top, and silky linens have a high thread count.
While the sheets will keep you comfortable and you’ll likely sleep like a rock, the interior design doesn’t have a lot of personality. The colors are muted or neutral, and the furniture is somewhere between a staged model home and contemporary coastal.
As the rooms go up in price, they gain square footage. More premium design details are granite countertops, hardwood floors, or dual vanities, and have added amenities like stocked mini-bars or Bose Bluetooth stereos. Suites are between 900 and 2,200 square feet and feature a separate living room space. Bungalows are 1,100 square feet. Villas, some of which have private outdoor hot tubs, range between 1,860 and 2,800 square feet and have multiple bathrooms.
The towels, like the sheets, are plush, and you'll enjoy the toiletries by L’Occitane. The water pressure is strong, and the water warms up quickly. Even the most basic room level has a walk-in shower and a separate, deep soaking tub. There are nine dining options within the compound, and they range from sit-down, full-service fancy to a casual bar and grill with outdoor seating.
Many of them have killer ocean views, alfresco dining, or both. Some are open seasonally. Mar’sel is the signature restaurant that serves a modern take on California cuisine. It is where you will find dishes that revolve around local items and ingredients gathered, grown, or made in-house, like honey, sea salt, olive oil, and Meyer lemon marmalade. There's also a seasonal Sunday brunch.
Catalina Kitchen is an all-day eatery with an open kitchen concept and weekend brunch buffets. There’s also a great Friday night buffet, with a fantastic raw bar and foods from all over the map. Despite being very casual, it is still pretty pricey. Here, the sweet monkey bread is legendary. This restaurant was redone most recently, so the décor is more on-trend, with encaustic tile floors and black iron chandeliers. Bashi is a pan-Asian concept with sushi, wok-style entrées, Yakitori skewers, and an extensive sake list.
Perched above the coves used in the 1950s TV series Sea Hunt and named after the show’s main character, Nelson’s has a lively informal atmosphere and is the best place to catch the sunset. Its seafood- and pub fare-heavy menu has a strong local following, as does its fire pit. It has a nightly happy hour and is a better place to grab a cocktail than the lobby bar.
It is nice to see a big resort that hasn’t sold out to Starbucks. Sea Beans is an adorable café just off the main building’s valet courtyard. Beyond coffee and tea, they stock freshly made pastries, to-go items perfect for a picnic at the beach, and housemade gelato.
Healthy eaters will enjoy solviva at the spa, as the resort’s resident nutritionist helped curate the menu of light, bright dishes that use ingredients known for their restorative properties. The restaurant accommodates all diet types, including gluten-free and vegan. The setting feels like it’s at the water’s edge and is quite relaxing and restorative itself.
The resort fee includes a lot of cool activities, such as wine tasting, seaside daily yoga and spin sessions, a meet and greet with the falconer and his birds of prey, tips from the golf pros, tennis courts, and guided nature hikes. There are also several land and sea activities to try, like ocean kayaking, whale watching, arts and crafts, horseback riding, and archery, which are available for an extra cost.
Schedule a round on the nine-hole par-three oceanfront golf course. The Links also has a two-tiered putting green complex.
If you're in the mood to shop, Terranea Resort also has a nice, albeit, pricey boutique that carries locally-made jewelry, active clothes and swimwear, educational toys, and logo clothing.
The resort offers unparalleled excitement in the water department, with four heated saltwater swimming pools. The massive, main resort pool has a 140-foot waterslide and a kid-friendly splash pad. There is a lifeguard on duty. There are two adults-only pools, for a calmer experience. The Vista Pool is for guests aged 13 and older, and cabanas are available for an extra rental fee.
Cielo Point is only open in the warmer months and features a sandy spit alongside the long pool for lounging on chaises. All of the pools have food and beverage service. The Spa Pool is one of the most picturesque, thanks to pops of orange, terracotta-colored tiles, and fire pits.
The spa at Terranea Resort is the definition of luxury. It is 50,000 square feet, has 25 treatment rooms, many of which have ocean views or copper soakers, and offers salon and nail services. It has an exclusive pool, a restaurant, a yoga and Pilates studio, steam rooms, saunas, cold plunges, and a gigantic gym.
Treatments are recommended according to the timing of your visit, nature, and circadian rhythms. There are a lot of treatments available at the spa, which feature algae and seaweed as a nod to the hotel’s location.
The resort fee is currently $40 per room per night. With it, you get Wi-Fi for up to three devices in the room and in the public spaces. It also includes nightly turndown service, in-room coffee and tea, local calls, guided walks with the naturalist, fitness center access, daily yoga classes, pool and beach chairs use, and more.
The website is pretty upfront about costs and policies (especially those regarding children and pets). The charges are not hidden, but almost everything will cost you, including parking, some activities, drinks, food, pets, and spa treatments.
Up to two dogs are allowed to come with their owners, but there is an extensive pet policy that owners must sign when they check-in that stipulates extra cleaning charges. Pets are allowed only in a designated set of rooms, and that does not include the bungalows, casitas, or villas.
It's great for anyone who can afford it. It is a very versatile resort in that you can enjoy for a girls' weekend, or with family or friends.
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