Feeling more like the Mediterranean than Southern California, it’s hard to believe that the rambling 102-acre Terranea Resort, on the Palos Verdes Peninsula overlooking Catalina Island, is only 30 minutes from the melting pot of bold creatives and eclectic world cultures that is Los Angeles, and conveniently positioned between LAX and Long Beach airports offering easy highway access to Hollywood and Disneyland.
A member of the Destinations Hotel family, Terranea inherited the site of the old Marineland oceanarium, designed in the 1950s by architect William Pereira, who was responsible in part for LAX’s iconic Theme Building. In the 1980s, after Marineland went bust, the site lay dormant for decades, which was perhaps a blessing in disguise since this preserved its original coral trees. More than two decades after Marineland shipped off its whales and closed its gates, and the culmination of 10 years of planning and costing some half a billion Dollars to build, the 582-room resort opened in 2009 atop the same ocean bluffs in Rancho Palos Verdes.
So large it can host five weddings at the same time, and with one of the largest ballrooms in Los Angeles County, Terranea occupies one of the most spectacular settings of any hotel in the States. Eight years after it opened, the resort has just unveiled a USD40 million restoration by Chicago-based design firm BAMO. Retaining the hotel’s classic Spanish Colonial style, the redesign also now embraces the casual elegance of coastal California. Today, guests face the daily option of choosing between the sybaritic life or one of adventure. You can sip cocktails in front of the Lobby Bar’s fireplace, out on its heated terrace, or around the private fire pit outside your own bungalow or villa for that matter. Guests can also lounge at any of four saltwater-treated swimming pools, two of which are adults-only, and frolic down a 140-foot waterslide in another.
More than 350 of Terranea’s guest rooms are located in the main hotel. With full kitchens, 50 three-bedroom ocean view casitas and 32 villas are nicely private. The twenty bungalows in front of the spa and closest to the sea cliffs have their own little secluded vibe. All accommodation has seen upgrades, including new décor and furnishings, plus the addition of locally sourced artworks to complement the coastal tones and refined palette. The 50,000ft2 spa now has 25 treatment rooms. Onsite Catalina Kitchen has reopened, complete with an overhauled interior, new external décor and an open kitchen and new bar. And a new casual outdoor dining venue – The Grill at Terranea – has also been unveiled. For non-Terranea guests, the impressive buffet brunch alone, at Catalina Kitchen with its enormous shaded patio, is worth negotiating L.A.’s freeways for.