Breathtaking Pacific Ocean views; excellent hiking and nature trails on property
Four heated pools, including one with a 140-foot waterslide and one for adults
Four restaurants, plus coffee shop, poolside bar, spa cafe, and lobby lounge
Luxurious, large rooms with private balconies; many with ocean views
Villas and casitas have features like hardwood floors, granite countertops, and vaulted ceilings
50,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor spa with 25 treatment rooms
Nine-hole golf course
Activities include kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and surfing
135,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting and event space
One of the only Los Angeles hotels with a kids' club
On-site beach is too rocky for swimming
Hour-long drive from most L.A. attractions
Daily resort fee
No party scene, no bars nearby
One of just a few true mega-resorts in Southern California, the 102-acre, 582-room Terranea in Rancho Palos Verdes offers a range of features that's unrivaled among L.A.-area properties, including a eight eating options, four outdoor swimming pools, a top-tier spa, nine holes of golf, and gorgeous grounds filled with walking paths and native flora and fauna. In terms of oceanfront real estate and level of luxury, there are a few properties in the region that can compare -- Montage Laguna Beach, The Resort at Pelican Hill -- but they're significantly farther from Los Angeles.
A Mediterranan-style mega-resort, with golf, a spa, and several pools and restaurants -- great, but very far from Los Angeles' best tourist attractions
The Terranea is an ambitious endeavor: a full-scale luxury resort within the boundaries of Los Angeles County. In fact, no other L.A.-area hotel matches Terranea when it comes to size and range of amenities. With 582 rooms spread over 100 acres, 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 smog- and traffic-choked parts of Los Angeles, this cushy coastal enclave has fresh air and lots of space. The town's lovely coast has been a backdrop for Hollywood films, including Pearl Harbor and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
It's all very pleasant, but also very expensive. Prospective travelers should also 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 is much more of an escape from metropolitan L.A. 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, treat themselves to 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.
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.
In Rancho Palos Verdes, a beautiful, wealthy, and relatively undeveloped town on the southwest tip 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 Vicente Lighthouse (only open once a month) and Point Vicente 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. Despite Terranea's oceanfront real estate, its on-site "beach" has rocks between sand and water; for a beach with swimming and surfing, it's a 25-minute drive to Redondo Beach.
10-mile, 25-minute drive to Redondo Beach, the nearest sandy beach for swimming and surfing
Inexpensive dining options three miles away at Golden Cove Shopping Center
45-minute drive to Los Angeles International Airport
One-hour drive to Rodeo Drive/Beverly Hills with high end shopping and swanky mansions
The rooms at Terranea are spacious (standard rooms are larger than those at most Los Angeles hotels) and well-equipped with top-notch electronics and all of the luxury trimmings. Some might find the decor a little standard issue (much of it is in the same color family as Rancho Palos Verdes' sand-hued cliffs), 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 Hotel Oceana. But what the rooms lack in creative design, they make up for with pure comfort. All rooms have balconies, many with unobscured ocean views. In-room tech includes iPod docks, 37-inch flat-screen LCD TVs with HBO, and Wi-Fi (covered by resort fee). Roomy bathrooms feature separate showers and tubs, Terranea-branded bath products, and Turkish robes.
The 450-square-foot standard rooms have either one king or two double beds. Suites are 900 square feet (Bungalow Suites are 1,100 square feet) and have separate living room areas with queen-size sleep sofas, master and guest bathrooms, and two flat-screen LCD TVs (one 42-inch, one 60-inch). One- to three-bedroom casitas (Spanish for "little house) feature full kitchens, living rooms, laundry facilities, and fireplaces (plus shared outdoor fireplaces). Two- and three-bedroom Golf Villas come with their own garages, full kitchens, hot tubs, and outdoor fireplaces.
Ample facilities and great-outdoors-oriented activities
Beyond being a reprieve from the hubbub and stress of other L.A. areas, the Terranea packs in more features than nearly any other hotel 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 L.A.'s only hotel kids' club gives parents the time to actually use it. 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. Instead, the facilities at Terranea emphasize the resort's beautiful natural surroundings.
Terranea's sprawling grounds feature gardens, walking paths, a bocce ball court, and croquet terrain with free equipment rental. Though the "beach" is too rocky to really be considered a beach, the hotel maximizes its waterfront property with kayak and stand-up paddleboarding tours and surfing lessons. The beach is at least a five-minute walk from the hotel, and the actual waterline is overrun by rocks. It's impossible to swim and the nearest sandy swimming beach is Redondo Beach, a 20-minute drive away. Terranea compensates for its rocky shoreline with four outdoor pools, all heated and all with great views of the ocean. The main pool deck features a 5,000-square-foot pool -- with a 140-foot-long twisty waterslide -- hot tubs, drink service, a fountain, and a roster of family-friendly activities, like S'mores Roasts. The other resort pools include the saltwater Vista Pool and the seasonal, adult-only Cielo Point (though all pools have views, the ones from here are the best). The 25-meter Spa Pool, surrounded by cabanas and fire pits, is accessible with a booked treatment or a day pass to spa facilities. In addition to its own pool, the 50,000-square-foot spa features saunas, steam rooms, cold plunges, and outdoor hot tubs by the pool. The spa's Fitness & Wellness Center has floor-to-ceiling windows, top-of-the-line equipment, and a separate spinning studio. Classes such as Seaside Yoga, Aqua Zumba, and TRX CORE Circuit are available for a fee.
A free shuttle takes guests to Terranea's nine-hole course, the Links. The mellow course, appropriate for all skill levels, looks over the hotel property and has views of the ocean. The green fee does not include golf carts or equipment rental. Individual or semiprivate lessons for two to four people are available.
The Terranea is the only Los Angeles area hotel with a full-fledged resort-style kids' club. Tide Pool Kids' club has computers, arts and crafts, board games, video games, photography and nature activities. Some of the on-site restaurants and the hotel's room service offer kids' menus and babysitting arrangements can be made through concierge (services are not affiliated with the hotel). A 24-hour business center has four computers and two printers; Wi-Fi and printing are covered by resort fee. There is also 135,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting space.
There are plenty of dining options on-site at Terranea; the food is good at all of them, but on the expensive side (that's normal at Los Angeles hotels, and to be expected when off-site options are limited). The four full restaurants have outdoor seating with views of the ocean. The fine-dining Mar'sel is only open for dinner, but Nelson's offers pub fare and micro brews for lunch and dinner every day; kids' menu available. Bashi, the hotel's poolside restaurant, serves Asian fusion cuisine. The casual Catalina Kitchen is being renovated through the end of 2016.
The Sea Beans coffee shop 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. Nachos, salads, Asian-inspired rice bowls, and fruity cocktails are available at Cielo Point, the adult-pool bar. Spa Cafe serves healthy breakfasts and Mediterranean-inspired salads, sandwiches, and wraps, as well as a drink list of smoothies, juices, wine, beer, and cocktails made with organic vodka. Room service is available 24 hours a day, with a delivery charge and 20 percent gratuity automatically added.