Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
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.
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.
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.
Large, comfortable, and well equipped, but a little generic
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.
Stocked to the max with top-notch facilities
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 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.
Extremely rocky at the shore -- it's impossible to swim; nearest sandy swimming beach a 20-minute drive away
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.
Nine par-three holes on the property, plus two other courses, both three miles away
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.
Three miles south of Terranea lies the Trump National, a public course run by Donald himself.
Three miles north of Terranea is Los Verdes Golf Course, another public course.
Great for families
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.
Pretty darn spotless.
No visible blemish in either the rooms or the public areas.
Six on-site restaurants, all with outdoor seating and great views, plus drinks and snacks throughout the resort; limited off-site options
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.
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.