Several years ago, high atop the bluffs of Palos Verdes was once the home to killer whales, high-flying dolphins, a manmade baja reef and many other types of beautiful creatures from the sea. Marineland of the Pacific was a public aquarium and tourist attraction located on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, opening in 1954. Millions of people over the years visited Marineland, which opened a year before Disneyland and was actually considered the first major theme park of California. The park finally closed back in 1987 and for several years remained in limbo as different developers decided how to utilize such a pristine location.

Fast forward to 2009 and a spectacular luxury resort opens its doors to the public. Terranea (ter-a-NAY-a), a true destination for those looking to get away for a little rest and relaxation, opens on the peninsula. My recent stay at Terranea, though brief, was truly unforgettable, and I will definitely be heading back to experience more of what this amazing location has to offer.

As you head down the road into the resort, you pass by an enchanting fountain and can’t help but to notice the beauty of such a well-designed upscale hotel. Taking a moment to look around, you feel as if you’ve entered into a tropical paradise and are greeted warmly by the Terranea staff.

As you enter your spacious and comfortable bedroom suite, you’re quickly mesmerized by the beauty and tranquility overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Each of the 400-plus hotel rooms, suites and bungalows offers amazing views no matter where you are situated on the property. The room itself was well kept, clean and very spacious.

Outside on the property, the surrounding landscape is well manicured with all types of foliage and coastal vegetation mixed with a unique architecture and design, truly complimenting how a top-tier resort should be maintained. There was a constant breeze in from the west that filled my room, and at times the sounds of crashing waves could be heard off in the distance.

Terranea’s amenities are second to none and often, you actually forget you’re still in Los Angeles County. There are three relaxing pools, retail shops, eight – yes eight – restaurants and lounges as well as a secluded shoreline cove you can escape to. For you Sunday hackers, there’s a well-situated nine-hole golf course on top of the bluff, and if you’re a real player, there’s Los Verdes Golf Course (public) and Trump National only minutes away. Ladies, your oasis is an inviting 50,000-square-foot oceanfront spa with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island. Did I also mention the water slide that I couldn’t stay away from?

I had a chance to grab a bite at Nelson’s, a bar/pub-style restaurant, situated at the edge of the peninsula. The casual setting and friendly environment was a perfect way to enjoy some great California cuisine.

I was able to try a few different items on the menu, and I highly recommend the Pork & Crab Sliders, along with the Chipotle Shrimp Tacos. Amazing! The Nelson Burger and the Free-Range Chicken Sandwich were prepared perfectly and served with seasoned fries.

Finishing the dining experience, I was treated to a couple of desserts that will blow you away. The Butter Croissant Bread Pudding and the Double Chocolate Fudge Brownie, both with a side of fresh whipped cream, will leave you speechless. To complete the evening, a step outside to the patio area, relaxing by a cozy fire with one of your favorite microbrews, is a perfect setting to catch an amazing California sunset.

The entire staff at Terranea was truly professional, accommodating and always there when needed. They went out of their way to make sure my stay was pleasurable, but also remained out of sight too so as not interfere with my time relaxing and soaking in some rays.

The key word behind Terranea is “natural” and its commitment to stay connected with nature and the beautiful surroundings of the Pacific coastline. The resort currently offers amazing deals and special rates on rooms. Their Web site is very user friendly, providing you with all the important accommodation, dining and recreation information you may need when booking travel.

If you’re able make it out to Terranea on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, your time away from the daily grind will truly be unforgettable.

For more information, visit