Terranea Resort Rating: 4.5 Pearls
Rancho Palos Verdes, California, United States

Oyster Review Summary

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Pros

Cons

  • No sandy beach on property
  • Hour-long drive from most L.A. attractions
  • Resort fee
  • Late check-in
  • No party scene, no bars nearby

Bottom Line

One of just a few true mega-resorts in Southern California, the 100-acre, 582-room Terranea in Rancho Palos Verdes offers a range of features that's unrivaled among Los-Angeles-area properties, including a top-tier spa, nine holes of golf, six restaurants, three pools, and gorgeous, manicured grounds.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

A Los Angeles mega-resort, with golf, spa, and several pools and restaurants -- great, but very far from the city's best tourist attractions

Guests around a bonfire
Guests around a bonfire

Opened in June 2009, the Terranea is an ambitious undertaking: a full-scale luxury megaresort within the boundaries of Los Angeles County. Downtown L.A. giants like the Wilshire Grand and the Westin Bonaventure may cram in more people, but no other Los-Angeles-area hotel matches the Terranea when it comes to size and range of amenities. With 582 rooms spread among 100 acres of Rancho Palos Verdes' sand-colored cliffs, the Terranea provides more breathing room than any other hotel in the county.

And the breathing is good in Rancho Palos Verdes, a town on the southwestern outskirts of Los Angeles County. Unlike other parts of Los Angeles, where smog and traffic hinder travelers, this cushy coastal enclave has fresh air and lots of space. The town's lovely coast has been a frequent backdrop for Hollywood films, including Con Air, Pearl Harbor, and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. During Oyster's visit, Kmart was doing a fashion shoot on the beach.

It's all very pleasant, but also very expensive. Prospective travelers should know that natural beauty and clean air aren't part of the typical Los Angeles experience, and the resort is far enough away from the city's sights to make one-day tourist excursions painful. Terranea caters to business travelers and West Coasters in town to visit relatives. It's much more of an escape from the grittier parts of Los Angeles than a sightseer's home base.

Unlike other hotels closer to the L.A. action, the Terranea embodies the Rancho Palos Verdes lifestyle -- one of leisure, relaxation, and appreciation of natural beauty. Guests sip drinks by the pool, take spa treatments, and play golf, all within view of the resort's tan coastal bluffs and the ocean below. The hotel's multiple hiking paths have signs encouraging visitors to watch for local species like the endangered El Segundo Blue Butterfly and the California Gray Whale. Inside, the resort has been planned down to minute details. Talking elevators announce the floor they've arrived at, and the entire property has been painted different shades in an effort to make it look like a set of old California mansions rather than a brand-new resort. Despite Terranea's size, service is highly personal -- front desk clerks remember guests' names, and one actually took me outside the building to point out the resort's best jogging paths.

Beyond a reprieve from the hubbub and stress of other Los Angeles neighborhoods, the Terranea packs more features than nearly any other in the city. Its enormous spa was built to accommodate a wide range of custom treatments. The adjoining pool has beautiful views of the ocean, and the large fitness center has state-of-the-art equipment. A separate adult-only pool has some of the resort's best views, and one of Los Angeles' only hotel kids' club gives parents the time to actually use it. Plus, the rooms, larger than average for Los Angeles, come equipped with quality amenities -- 37-inch flat-screen TVs and iPod Docks -- and luxurious bathrooms (the hotel provides bath salts for the tubs). Each has its own balcony, and many feature unobscured views of the resort's oceanside cliffs.

Terranea offers a kind of beauty that contrasts starkly with what most people think of when they picture Los Angeles. It's actually more comparable to places like Loews Coronado Bay in San Diego or the Red Rock or Green Valley Ranch resorts on the outskirts of Las Vegas than to any L.A. property. For easier access to the Los Angeles' sights, check out Hollywood's Magic Castle and Beverly Hills' Beverly Wilshire and Beverly Hills Hotel.

 Service

Highly attentive -- the staff remembers your name -- and all the luxury offerings one would expect from a hotel in this price range

Fairly standard high-end resort service -- poolside drink service, daily turndown, and the like -- though a few thoughtful touches make it stand out, including free daily guided hikes and free croquet. Check-in staff and others are quick to chat up guests and remember names.

  • Shuttle service takes guests anywhere within five mile radius -- first-come-first-served basis
  • Los Angeles Times delivered daily
  • Housekeeping once daily
  • Daily turndown service includes a bottle of water but no other extras.
  • 24-hour room service with delivery charge and 20 percent gratuity automatically added
  • Same-day laundry/dry cleaning
  • Attentive poolside drink service
  • Free boccie ball, croquet, daily guided nature walks, kids' s'mores activities
  • Kayak tours and group bike tours charged per person.

 Location

In Rancho Palos Verdes, a beautiful, wealthy, relatively undeveloped town on the southwest tip of Los Angeles County

Unlike much of Los Angeles County, Rancho Palos Verdes is a picture of natural beauty, with tall oceanside cliffs and relatively little development. To the west of the Terranea is Point Vincente Lighthouse (which is closed to the public) and Point Vincente Park, which offers whale-watching opportunities, playgrounds, and nature walks. Guests must drive to anything that isn't on the resort grounds. And getting to any of L.A.'s major tourist attractions takes at least an hour.

  • Eight-mile, 20-minute drive to Redondo Beach, the nearest sandy beach for swimming and surfing
  • Convenience store, Starbucks, and inexpensive dining options a mile away at Golden Cove Shopping Center
  • On-site "beach" has rocks between sand and water; for a beach with swimming and surfing, it's a 20-minute drive to Redondo Beach
  • One hour drive to Rodeo Drive/Beverly Hills with high end shopping and swanky mansions
  • One hour drive to Universal Studios theme park
  • One hour drive to Hollywood Boulevard and Grauman's Chinese Theatre
  • 45 minutes to one hour drive to LAX Airport

 Rooms

Large, comfortable, and well equipped, but a little generic

The Standard Room
The Standard Room

The rooms at Terranea are large (about 450 square feet), and well equipped with top-notch electronics, comfortable beds, and huge bathrooms with all the luxury trimmings. Some might feel the decor is a little standard issue, especially for an otherwise distinctive luxury property; certainly the rooms lack the kind of playful touches found at other high-end L.A. resorts like Shutters on the Beach or Oceana.

  • Standard rooms are 450 square feet, larger than the average Los Angeles hotel room.
  • Outfitted with either a king or two double beds, with comfortable Serta pillow-top mattresses
  • Solid electronics: 37-inch flat-screen TVs with HBO and in-room movies; iPod docks
  • Internet access covered by resort fee
  • All rooms have balconies, most have views of the ocean
  • Large bathrooms with separate showers and tubs; Lather bath products include bath salts; Turkish robes; phone
  • Suites are 900 square feet and have separate living room area; master and guest bathrooms; two 42-inch flat-screen TVs
  • Two-, three-, and four-bedroom "villas" also available, with their own garages, full kitchens, hot tubs, and outdoor fireplaces
  • "Resort casitas" (Spanish for "little house") with their own entrances, full kitchen, living rooms, and laundry facilities

 Features

Stocked to the max with top-notch facilities

Great pools with great views
Great pools with great views

The features here are typical for a top-tier luxury mega-resort, but completely different from what one finds in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, or downtown L.A. Everything here is brand-new and huge.

  • Three pools, including an adult-only one, one for families with a fountain and waterslide, and one at the spa -- all with great views of the ocean
  • Nine-hole, on-site golf course (see Golf section)
  • Sprawling grounds with gardens, patios outside the lobby bar, local art distributed throughout the resort
  • Boccie ball and croquet terrain with free equipment rental
  • Fitness center has floor-to-ceiling windows, top-of-the-line equipment, separate exercise studio with spinner bikes.
  • Enormous, 50,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor spa with its own pool, customized treatment rooms, outdoor hot tubs
  • 24-hour business center with four computers, two printers; Internet and printing covered by resort fee
  • Marea Boutique is the latest addition to the property, featuring high-end women's Mediterranean influenced fashion

 Pools

Three large ocean-view pools that are better than those at hotels in more urban neighborhoods.

Terranea's three pools handily beat the offerings at Los Angeles' smaller urban hotels.

  • Main pool area with fountain, waterslide, hot tubs, drink service
  • Adult pool, behind a locked door, has drink service and the resort's best views of the ocean
  • Spa pool with drink service and private outdoor hot tubs, accessible with day pass to spa facilities

 Beach

Extremely rocky at the shore -- it's impossible to swim; nearest sandy swimming beach a 20-minute drive away

Extremely rocky at the shore
Extremely rocky at the shore

The "beach" at Terranea is too rocky to really be considered a beach. The small patch of sand is at least a five-minute walk from the hotel, and the actual waterline is overrun by rocks. You can't really swim here -- although one man was clearly having fun building little rock statues, and it's beautiful enough that Kmart used it for a fashion shoot while I was there.

  • No lifeguard
  • Several cabanas and beach chairs -- no drink service, though
  • Kayak trips, snorkeling
  • Nearest sandy beach for swimming and surfing is Redondo Beach, eight miles or a 20 minute drive away.

 Golf

Nine par-three holes on the property, plus two other courses, both three miles away

Nine par-three holes on property
Nine par-three holes on property

The Terranea has its own nine-hole course, "The Links." The mellow course, appropriate for all skill levels, looks over the hotel property and has views of the ocean.

  • Nine holes, 1,239 yards, par 27
  • Clubs, pull carts available for rental
  • Individual lessons and semiprivate lessons for two to four people are also available.

Three miles south of Terranea lies the Trump National, a public course run by Donald himself.

  • 18 holes, 7,311 yards, par 71
  • Daily green fee includes GPS equipped golf car, practice balls, valet parking, and locker rooms
  • Free resort shuttle takes guests to the course.

Three miles north of Terranea is Los Verdes Golf Course, another public course.

  • 18 holes, par 71
  • 18 holes, 6,617 yards, par 71
  • Green fee does not include golf carts or equipment rental
  • Free resort shuttle takes guests to the course.

 Family

Great for families

Waterslide at the main pool
Waterslide at the main pool

The only Los Angeles area hotel with a full-fledged resort-style kids' club, Terranea caters extensively to guests of all ages. Many of the resort's kid-friendly activities are expensive, but the long hiking trails, exceptional pools, and large rooms offer families many perks at no additional cost.

  • Tide Pool Kids' club has computers, arts and crafts, board games, video games, photography and nature activities. Costs vary.
  • Main pool has a waterslide and a fountain.
  • Bashi, Nelson's, and room service offer kids' menus, kids' buffet at Catalina Kitchen during Sunday brunch.
  • Babysitting arrangements can be made through concierge, but services are not affiliated with the hotel.
  • "Teen Scene" nighttime activities by reservation for guests ages 13 to 17; daily Rock Band video game activity for a fee.
  • Suites can be expanded into lockoff two-bedroom apartments for families.

 Cleanliness

Pretty darn spotless.

No visible blemish in either the rooms or the public areas.

 Food

Six on-site restaurants, all with outdoor seating and great views, plus drinks and snacks throughout the resort; limited off-site options

Lunch at The Terranea Grill, now Bashi
Lunch at The Terranea Grill, now Bashi

There are plenty of dining options on-site at Terranea; all the food is good, but a bit expensive (that's normal at Los Angeles hotels). All the restaurants have outdoor seating with views of the ocean.

  • Casual dining all day at Catalina Kitchen, which also has an excellent breakfast buffet; entrees range from chitarra spaghetti to double Colorado lamb chops.
  • High-end formal fare at Mar'sel, open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday; entrees range from California Chanterelles to wagyu ribeye steak.
  • Pub fare and micro brews at Nelson's, open for lunch and dinner every day; kids' menu available; entrees range from turkey BLT to fish and chips.
  • The newest addition to the hotel is Bashi, a poolside restaurant serving Asian fusion cuisine.
  • Sea Beans Cafe offers pressed sandwiches, gelato, and coffee, as well as snacks like energy bars and chips.
  • The Lobby Bar is popular with guests, who tote martinis around the lobby and its back patio.
  • Snacks and drink service available at Cielo Point, the adult-pool bar, and Spa Cafe, in the spa
  • 24-hour room service with a delivery charge and 20 percent gratuity automatically added
  • Nearest off-site dining is a set of affordable restaurants, including a Starbucks and a Subway, at Golden Cove, a mile drive down the road.

 Bottom Line

One of just a few true mega-resorts in Southern California, the 100-acre, 582-room Terranea in Rancho Palos Verdes offers a range of features that's unrivaled among Los-Angeles-area properties, including a top-tier spa, nine holes of golf, six restaurants, three pools, and gorgeous, manicured grounds.

Things You Should Know About Terranea Resort

Address

  • 100 Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, , US

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Terranea Hotel Rancho Palos Verdes
  • Terranea Resort Rancho Palos Verdes

Room Types

  • Bungalow Room
  • Bungalow Suite
  • Casita Suite
  • Guestroom Ocean View
  • Guestroom Oceanside
  • Guestroom Resort View
  • Luxury Ocean Side Suite
  • Luxury Ocean View Suite
  • Resort Casita
  • Shearwater Suite
  • Three Bedroom Casita, Ocean View
  • Three Bedroom Casita, Oceanside
  • Three Bedroom Casita, Resort View
  • Three Bedroom Ocean View Villa
  • Three Bedroom Resort View Villa
  • Two Bedroom Bungalow
  • Two Bedroom Ocean View Villa
  • Two Bedroom Resort View Villa
  • Vanderlip Suite

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 582
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Kids Club: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): Some
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Hotel Information

Location: Rancho Palos Verdes, California
Address: 100 Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, , US
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