This Luxury Resort Is SoCal’s Best-Kept Secret

Southern California has no shortage of luxury resorts, but there is one that mysteriously seems to fly just under the radar. It’s hard to call Terranea a hidden Gem because it occupies a whopping 102 acres of coveted oceanfront land and stands high on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean — but there’s no question that it’s a gem.

My husband and I stayed there for a few nights last month to celebrate my birthday and now I understand why it’s such a secret. Terranea is so special that loyal guests don’t want to share it. They understandably want it for themselves. Here’s why:


Nestled in the hills of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Terranea takes on a dreamy, Oz-like quality as you approach it. The beautiful drive is reminiscent of a journey along the Amalfi Coast and as soon as you arrive and receive the warm welcome that makes you feel at home you will immediately relax. You’ll feel like you’re far from your everyday routine, even though Los Angeles and Long Beach airports are only half an hour away.

We happened to be visiting on two of SoCal’s craziest rainy days last month, and while we’d definitely like to return to experience the resort in its usual sunshine, I have to admit we wouldn’t have traded the weather. I loved the moody atmosphere that made any beautiful interior feel even more cozy and I didn’t have to feel guilty about spending a whole day at the spa. My husband still managed to play golf and see the falconry demonstration between downpours and there was always a shuttle available to pick us up and drive us around the expansive grounds so we didn’t get wet.

Our room overlooked the sea, and while we couldn’t hike, explore the tide pools, or bike the cliffs, we were able to enjoy the view and feel connected to Terranea’s natural beauty. Honestly for us the drama of the clouds and rain just added to the magic of the place. You don’t need perfect weather to fall in love with this resort.

The Spa at Terranea

As someone who is very picky about spas I can’t say enough about this one. Terranea’s award-winning spa isn’t just about pampering – although it’s certainly good at it. With 25 treatment rooms and 50,000 square feet of beautifully landscaped space, this is a spa that takes wellness seriously. Their professionals have created a thoughtful menu of unique treatments to make you feel and look great. If I lived closer, I would spend time here regularly.

I recommend Ocean’s Prelude, which includes a dry body brushing, seaweed wrap, saltwater bath, and massage in two hours of pure bliss. The treatment takes place in a spa suite overlooking the Pacific and my wonderful therapist, Shadi, kept the balcony door open so I could relax to the sound of the waves.

I’ve also had the Natura Bisse Inhibit Facial and I don’t think my skin has looked this healthy in years. Knowing it was my birthday, my esthetician Patty took the antiaging idea literally and worked a miracle or two.

Between treatments, I stretched out in the ocean-view spa lounges, read in front of the fireplace while it was raining outside, and only got up to check out the sauna and eucalyptus steam room. Heaven. The whole day was just heavenly.


There are nine restaurants at Terranea and we managed to try five of them. Each has its own personality and the food is excellent across the board, but if I have to say that our favorite was Bashi with its super fresh sushi. Each bun was a treat and the shaking beef was a must-try dish that we’re still talking about.

Before the weather took a turn we were fortunate enough to have Sunday brunch al fresco at mar’cel where we loved the view as much as the food. The three course prix fixe menu has so many impossible to choose options but I opted for the chicken and waffle which was out of this world. And that was just one course!

We had breakfast at cheerful Catalina Kitchen and at Sea Beans, the resort’s artisan coffee shop, which is also a great place to grab a snack or sit with a good book. They have a surprisingly extensive menu and are rightly known for their homemade ice cream sandwiches.

Lunch at Nelson’s was also a real treat. With its pub atmosphere it felt particularly cozy on a rainy day and we appropriately feasted on fish and chips, hot Bavarian pretzels and bowls of clam chowder. Comfort food at its finest.

Let me tell you that we’ve all balanced our indulgences with swimming, taking classes, or exercising on the state-of-the-art equipment at Terranea’s 5,000 sq ft fitness & wellness center, but unfortunately that has to happen next time.


As exceptional as all of this was, what really sets Terranea apart is the unparalleled level of service. Every single member of staff was genuinely friendly and attentive and went above and beyond what was expected. They greeted guests by name and said “Happy Birthday” to me at every meal. I was spoiled with so many celebrations and special desserts that I was spoiled for future birthdays. In fact, I’m thinking about making this a new annual tradition.

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