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The Spa at Terranea - Spa Review

An Ocean Prelude in SoCal

by Irvina Lew

A copper tub at The Spa at Terranea in Rancho Palos Verdes, California
A VIP spa suite with a huge copper tub

Traffic diminishes during the twenty-mile drive from LAX to Terranea Resort until only cyclists, campers and an occasional car keep us company along the curving, cliff-lined coastal road in Palos Verdes, Calif. We feel far from civilization as we pass stretches of rocky shoreline parks overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

The sprawling Terranea Resort made its debut in June 2009. Its 102-acres feature a nine-hole golf course, three swimming pools (including one with a waterslide for kids), cliffside lawns, three restaurants and a total of 582 accommodations. Many hotel rooms and suites, bungalows, oceanfront casitas and ocean view villas are located on lower levels so they’re not seen from the entrance road.

We descended by elevator from the main floor entry down to our ground floor room, where from its terrace only 15 feet of grass separated us from the bluff-top ocean trails (these public pathways connect to off-site coastal trails) and the steep rocky drop to the sea. While relaxing there with a book, you can enjoy the ever-changing vistas that extend south — where a winding path descends the cliff through a garden of native vegetation down to the secluded, curved cove and sandy beach — and west beyond sailboats, egrets, sea gulls and dolphins to Catalina Island and north, to Malibu.

The site was the former home of Marineland of the Pacific, where kids once delighted in learning about sea mammals. It was also a popular venue for television programs and films ("Pearl Harbor" and "Pirates of the Caribbean"). In an effort to make the project green, the builders reused some 65,000 tons of rock from the previous aquatic amusement park and retained 45 trees. They also used recycled wood, glass and bamboo in construction, installed energy efficient lighting and use biodegradable containers for trash.

The spa pool at The Spa at Terranea in Rancho Palos Verdes, California
The spa relaxation room at  The Spa at Terranea in Rancho Palos Verdes, California
Spa saltwater pool
Spa relaxation area

The scenic Southern California location and idyllic weather are two attractions, but The Spa at Terranea is the raison d’être for our visit. The 50,000-square-foot, stand-alone spa facility is spectacular with its high ceilings, wood flooring, glass mosaic tiles and contemporary décor with neutral fabrics. There’s a beauty salon, fitness center, a Spa Café, boutique, a sumptuous co-ed lounge plus single sex locker rooms, lounges and outdoor patios with hot tubs. The spa has 25 treatment rooms and its own private saltwater pool backed by a clear wall that breaks the wind and preserves the vista. Its extensive treatment menu is a tribute to spa consultant Ann Bramham.

Through the open terrace doors of the spa VIP suite, a similarly spectacular sweeping ocean view rivals the one from our terrace. This is where the Ocean Prelude ($324) treatment takes place. It’s a spacious room decorated with pale walls, hardwood floor, built-in cabinetry, private shower and furnished with a spa table and huge copper tub. A seaweed wrap starts the two–hour treatment and is followed by a Swiss shower (with a dozen shower heads on the three walls and a rainfall shower head above). Next, there’s a pleasant soak in the huge copper tub facing the vast expanse of the Pacific through the open doors. As requested, Joseph, the provider, turned off the music so only the authentic sound of waves crashing on the rocks interrupted the silence. He returned after the bath to give a marvelous and full hour-long, customized massage.

It would have been a great experience even in an ordinary, windowless treatment room; but here, with the light, fresh air, limitless views and sounds from the sea, it was memorable.

The Spa at Terranea
Terranea Resort
100 Terranea Way
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
310-265-2800, 866-802-8000

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