This article was first published on Trusted Travel Girl, November 2018.
I couldn’t stop looking down, because 70 feet below I could see the ripples of the sand while orange Garibaldis and silver sardines swam around me. The blueish-green hued water was so clear off the coast of Palos Verdes that I contemplated capsizing my kayak just so I could swim on this hot Indian summer day in November. Just a mere hour drive (mid-day) from my home in Malibu, it felt like I’d escaped to Baja or some other remote area far from the nagging traffic din of Los Angeles. Just the drive alone to Terranea through the coastal neighborhoods started to unclutter my mind.
A seal bobbed its head up from the kelp forest rooted by rocks, while a pelican dove a foot from my kayak for a tasty lunch. It was 1 pm on a Saturday and despite the rolling motions of the long waves making me a bit seasick, I couldn’t have been happier on the open ocean gazing at the cliffside resort that is Terranea – the largest luxury destination resort on the Los Angeles coast.
We launched from Terranea’s rocky beach, with the help of our kayaking guide making the transition off the shore seamless. Staring at the cliffside lighthouse and whale rock with the foaming sea whirling around it, it was hard to imagine the 102-acre Terranea Resort was once called Marineland – not a sanctuary like it felt now, but a place to amuse tourists with marine life. Originally opened in 1954, the Disney-like park was bulldozed 33 years later, right after the animals were taken at night down the coast to SeaWorld San Diego.
Our kayaking adventure was part of Terranea’s “Immersive Wellness Daycation” that began with a choice of morning oceanside spin, yoga, or my preferred choice – a beach booty workout called Nature’s Gym. We used the smooth shoreline rocks as weights before running back and forth on the beach with a number of full body strength training moves. After our 9 am sweat, we picked up a healthy green smoothie and oatmeal at the Sea Beans Café and returned to the spa pool area to reset our thinking with a group class on being present and positive with facilitator Angela Matthews. After setting intentions, practicing breathing techniques, and exchanging ideas about forgiveness, our group of about ten women (some celebrating their mom’s birthday) practiced mindful eating using our senses. This “attention” helped me notice the shape of each pulled nectarine slice, the color of the grapes, and the crunch of a nut between my teeth. If only each day I had the time to be this present and fully alive!
Afterward, we were greeted poolside by the resort nutritionist with an array of colorful uber-healthy lunch items that will be coming soon to the new spa café called Solviva. The preview menu included items like hummus, a farro bowl with roasted veggies and cashew cream, pumpkin soup, root vegetable ratatouille toast with almond and arugula pesto, and flourless chocolate cake.
Meandering through the nearby Sea Salt Conservatory on the way back to my room, I marveled as peppers and kelp hung to dry while seawater from the Pacific Ocean lay in large containers waiting to evaporate to create sea salt. Executive Chef Bernard Ibarra (from the Basque region) uses the nutrient-rich kelp in soups, ice cream, and the resort’s specialty kelp sea salt. Also, at Terranea’s offsite farm, the chef plants and harvest thousands of pounds of produce and herbs with his team. The chef even has his own beekeeping area nearby to source local honey.
Our wellness day continued post-kayaking with time at the 50,000 square foot two level cliffside Mediterranean spa, adjacent to Terranea’s ocean view gym and spa pool. The breathtaking glistening panoramic Pacific Ocean views make this spa’s ambiance tranquil and restorative. After a eucalyptus steam, a plunge in the freezing cold pool, and a quick soak in the warm outdoor jacuzzi, I was ready to lay in the moveable plush chair for my Renewed Youth Facial. My skin was expertly massaged and soaked in countless lotions, tingly potions, and masks while tiny electric currents and chilled rollers allowed the creams to penetrate my skin better. Head, shoulder, and foot massages lulled me into a state of bliss. Upon returning to the world, the sunset views from the spa’s outdoor deck space with nearby cozy fireplace made this experience unforgettable. Did I really need to get out of my robe? To close our day of wellness, the group reconvened for a healing sound bath.
The night before we dined outside at Bashi – one of the resort’s eight distinct dining options ranging from gourmet cuisine to casual fare – set against the Pacific Ocean. Bashi blends Asian cuisine with local flavors. We sampled sushi and Yakitori skewers (shrimp, beef, asparagus) cooked over special Japanese charcoal and shared dishes like Bacon and Crab Fried Rice, Shanghai Style Garlic Noodles, Korean BBQ Ribs, Steamed Chicken Dumplings, and Spicy Garlic Green Beans. This night our group was dining at the fancier Mar’sel, a dazzling outdoor restaurant with Catalina Island and twinkly lights of the Rancho Palos Verdes hills in the distance. The best way to enjoy this stunning location is with a glass of wine at sunset before diving into their exquisite menu of Grilled Octopus, Fig Salad, Bolognese, Niman Ranch Pork Tomahawk, or Lobster Pasta with uni, gooseberries, and burrata.
Although the property is bustling at sunset, especially on the wide terrace near the lobby bar, the resort is so huge you can find your own private location. I preferred my own balcony off my spacious luxe room that overlooked a saltwater pool where I could find utter respite gazing at the ocean. The luxurious linens and comfy bed made it hard to want to leave the room, especially when the doors were left open and the ocean air permeated the room. Since the resort has 270-degree views of the Pacific, it is one of those rare places to witness both the sunrise and the sunset.
The Mediterranean-inspired resort features 582 guestrooms, suites, and spacious casitas (2-3 bedrooms with kitchen) and villas for intergenerational families. The bungalows offer spa and wellness-focused amenities with 3, 5, and 7-day itineraries. Terranea offers numerous dining options, four pools, a spa, and fitness center, an award-winning golf course, a kids club, ecological enrichment programs (meet with a falconer), outdoor activities (tidepooling, guided nature hikes), and wedding and special event space. Book your next outing with their Adventure Concierge.
The Daycation described above is the third iteration of Terranea’s Immersive Wellness Series. The first was a three-day/two-night retreat in April, and the second was another Daycation in August. The next Daycation will occur on Saturday, February 23, 2019. More are sure to follow.
The complete itinerary for the Immersive Wellness: Daycation at Terraneais priced at $450 per person. Guests of the program who choose to add an overnight stay will receive a preferred room rate. To book the Immersive Wellness: Daycation at Terranea, please visit the Terranea store to view a full schedule of retreat events, or call 310.265.2740. Due to the intimate nature of select events, space is limited and early bookings are encouraged.
Terranea also offers many special holidays traditions as they celebrate their 10thanniversary.
Reconnect with nature and emerge renewed at Terranea, your own oasis.