My husband, Marcus, and I are running late for our couple’s massage at The Spa at Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes. As we walk-jog down the small hill from our Bungalow suite, the heat rising from my neck to my face is induced more by stress and embarrassment than an elevated heartbeat. Earlier that morning, I had strolled through the 55,000-square-foot spa (which includes a fitness center and salon) and caught sight of folks, clad in their thick white robes, relaxing by the fireplace, milling about the gift shop, sipping herbal teas in the lounges. Everyone knows spa treatment begins before you enter the massage room. It’s a mindset.
“We would be late,” I huff, worried that our experience will feel truncated, not tranquil. Marcus is quiet. He doesn’t say, Well, if you hadn’t tried to cram a Zumba class and nature walk in before our spa appointment, we may have been on time, but I imagine he is thinking it.
After we check in, staff whisks us into motion and before we know it, we are robed, slippered and trailing our gracious massage therapists, Mary and Selina, upstairs. They open the door to our room, motioning for us to enter first. Marcus and I stop breathing as the scene unfolds seemingly in slow motion. The expansive room has invited the sun inside to play with us through a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling glass door framed by a pair of pale-gold drapes blowing in the wind. The late-morning sun dances across the ocean and caresses our massage beds, which are swathed in gold satin bedspreads. And standing in the center of the room is a large, oval copper tub, glistening like a second sun.
Mary and Selina get to work on our muscles, which are already relaxing as ocean waves create the only music we need.
Since Terranea opened nearly 11 years ago, Marcus and I have visited several times for brunch, dinner and nature explorations, but we had not patronized The Spa or stayed overnight until our recent date. The 102-acre resort consists of 582 Mediterranean-style guestrooms and suites, including spacious casitas, villas and The Bungalows. These structures are studded atop the rugged bluffs that run along the southwestern tip of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Joining the accommodations are nine dining areas, a nine-hole golf course, four swimming pools, private cabanas, a kids club, event spaces and ecological programs that span a sea salt conservatory (Executive Chef Bernard Ibarra collects water right off the shore), a chicken coop, a forest of sage bushes, lemon trees and vegetables. Nearby is a garden, olive orchard and beehives that Terranea harvests, the fruits of which flow right back into the restaurants’ kitchens.
The day before our spa treatment, we stop in at Sea Beans café for coffee and croissants, then head over to Pointe Discovery to meet our tour guide, Alex, for a winter solstice walk just before sunset. Alex chats us up about the history of the land, including the fact that it was the site of Marineland of the Pacific, a seaside animal theme park opened in 1954, as well as the setting for movies and TV shows. The natural cove we love to play in was used as the location for the entrance to the Batcave on the “Batman” TV series.
After our walk, we settle into our 1,100-square-foot Bungalow suite with its towering four-poster bed, 1.5 baths, kitchen, living room with a fireplace and two patios overlooking the casual-dining restaurant Nelson’s (the best eatery for watching the sunset) and the ocean.
We eat dinner at Catalina Kitchen (which also serves a famously massive brunch). I order a local red wine and the bucatini seafood plate (clams, mussels, shrimp, spicy pork sausage, oyster mushrooms, lobster broth), while Marcus goes all in on the Kobe truffle burger with brie and candied jalapeño bacon.
The next morning, I wake up before sunrise to watch jackrabbits and birds, then rush off to that amazing Zumba class, which is typical of my tendency to “do too much,” but The Spa, as you know, makes even that all right.
For more, visit terranea.com.