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The Terranea Resort: California Style Luxury On The Pacific

The Terranea Resort: California Style Luxury on the Pacific

It’s inky black outside as I make my way from the Catalina ferry terminal to my car in an almost deserted parking lot in San Pedro, California. I have no map and rely entirely on my GPS. I have a name – The Terranea Resort -and an address – but no real sense of where I’m heading or what I’ll find.

Terranea Resort in California

I plug in the address provided and let the GPS weave its magic. Forty five minutes and a few frantic phonecalls later, not to mention a stop to talk to a real human being – and I finally pull in to the Terranea Resort. I have cursed the GPS as it’s telling me to do U-turns when a left turn is all it would take. I’m running late – and not happy about it.

It means I don’t have time to enjoy a glass of champagne offered upon check-in. Being late means I barely give my luxurious room a second glance and don’t even peer out my balcony until morning. I don’t have the luxury of slipping on an uber soft robe to sit in an over-sized chair and just lounge.

"What my bedroom looked like before I arrived"

What my bedroom looked like before I arrived – Photo credit: The Terranea Resort

But what I do have is a dinner reservation at Mar’sel – one of the upscale restaurants on the property. And although my better half is several thousand kilometers away, bundled up and dealing with -29 C temperatures in Calgary, I have learned to enjoy the solitary dining experience.

The wait staff  is attentive – but not hovering. I feel entirely comfortable, especially once I’ve got a glass of Roth Merlot ’09 from the Alexander Valley in my hands. I am the proverbial fly on the wall and enjoy catching bits of conversation around me. My meal arrives – a lamb pasta combination in a rich sauce covered with fresh greens and I feel the stress of the travel day slip away. The general manager, Craig Kahila, comes by to say hello and we exchange pleasantries. Later once the dining room empties we have a longer conversation which is most enjoyable.

Something I learned in speaking with Craig is that the Terranea Resort sits on the site of the former Marineland of the Pacific which operated from 1954-1987. It’s amazing to look at pictures of the same piece of property and see what’s been done.

"Terranea Resort sits on the site of the former Marineland of the Pacific"

Terranea Resort sits on the site of the former Marineland of the Pacific

"A view of the Terranea Resort"

A view of the Terranea Resort

The next morning I am greeted with quite the view from my balcony.

"The view from my balcony"

The view from my balcony

I find some breakfast and then go off to explore. The Terranea Resort is big. It’s got room configurations for everyone – from villas to casitas to guest rooms and bungalows.

"One of the casitas"

One of the casitas

It’s got golf courses and swimming pools, a spa and a fitness center. There is a manmade pond lined with vegetation – and it’s full of birds. Trails weave through the property and I quickly discover the Bluff Top Trail and hike out towards the lighthouse.

"Gold at the Terranea Resort"

Golf at the Terranea Resort

"The view of the Pacific from the Bluff Top trail"

The view of the Pacific from the Bluff Top trail

"You can hike down to a rocky beach"

You can hike down to a rocky beach

"The view to the lighthouse"

The view to the lighthouse

"Another look at the rocky beach"

Another look at the rocky beach

I barely spend any time in my room and wish I’d had more than a night at the resort. I would happily lie by the pool with a good book for part of a day. And at the pace I’ve been going at lately, a visit to the spa would have been very welcome.

"One of the three pools"

One of the three pools – Photo credit: The Terranea Resort

If you’re at the resort for more than a few days there are plenty of activities to choose from – many of which will appeal to all ages. The most interesting one in my mind was the falconry.

"Activities offered at Pointe Discovery"

Activities offered at Pointe Discovery

It’s not often I stay at resorts – though I was recently at the Four Seasons in Costa Rica – a chain known for their high levels of service. I’d have to say that the service here was of the same caliber – always friendly, never pretentious.

Should you find yourself with some vacation time on your hands and are looking for some California style luxury – just 40 minutes from the Los Angeles airport – then I highly recommend a stay here. It’s also – now that I know the lay of the land in daylight – a quick drive to the ferry terminal where it’s easy to visit Catalina Island for the day – another highly worthwhile trip.

Do you have a favourite resort? Have you ever stayed at the Terranea Resort?

Leigh McAdam

***Thank you to Visit California and The Terranea Resort for making my stay possible. All thoughts are my own. And I really do wish I could have stayed longer.***


Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 12 Comments
  1. I have always wanted to stay at this resort but my husband is too cheap 🙂 It looks so beautiful and judging from your pictures and your stay, worth the reputation it has earned. That room and view are just heavenly looking. I’m glad you had a wonderful stay despite it being short. This is one of my favorite areas up north. A close friend got married at the nearby Wayfarer’s Chapel a few years ago and we longingly wanted to stay longer at Terranea while she was getting ready 🙂

    1. @Mary I think the Terranea Resort is one of those places you go to when you want to spurge and be pampered. It’s not far from you so it would make an ideal weekend – with or without kids. Perhaps there are deals in the slow season.

  2. Leigh, loved the GPS story – we don’t use them (yet, anyway) but know the time may be coming. Beautiful resort! Am I correct in assuming the rates are as high end as the accommodations appear to be? Its got a stunning location, that’s for sure!!

    1. @Jackie It was my first time using a GPS and without a navigator in the passenger seat, I think LA would have been a nightmare to do on my own. But the lesson learned is that they are not always right.
      Teh accommodation is super luxurious and starts at about $300 per night.

  3. Looks like a fabulous resort, Leigh. The room looks beautiful and I’m blown away by such views just a short distance from foggy LA! Definitely an option next time we’re in town. And with both falconry and horse riding on offer, there’s hope I might be able to persuade my kids to come along, too 🙂

    1. @Sophie It is a fabulous resort and it feels a world away from LA. I would have loved to participate in a falconry session too – though I don’t know how often they are offered. I am sure both your kids would love it. There’s plenty of swimming and a great beach for beach-combing isn’t far away.

  4. OH my gosh, I absolutely LOVED this post, Leah! What an amazing transformation of Marineland. You know me and being a foodie. I had to immediately look up the menu at Mar’sel. And you had lamb pasta?? Yes, ten times over please! My mouth is literally watering. Your pictures are absolutely stunning. So much color and warmth! Speaking of that, so sorry your honey is back in Calgary in that brutal cold weather. If I could I would pack Phoenix and I up into his Jeep and we would head due south to Terannea right now. He doesn’t drink champagne so I’m sure they could have a Golden Retriever allowed exception 🙂 Absolutely awesome, our friend 🙂

  5. They really have transformed the place! Although I don’t like being late, I like being surprised by an unexpectedly beautiful view like the one you had at the Terranea Resort, Leigh. Too bad you only had one night – that bed looks quite inviting.

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