Luxury Plus

Sure, Terranea will pamper you, but it will also send you on adventures to remember


I am not often fond of journeys that take me into the mountains, since the terrain usually means bugs, tents and other such oddities. So when in search of a get-out-of-Vegas vacation, I looked no further than coastal Southern California, where a perfect hideaway combines the secluded benefits of a mountain retreat with the panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. The place I am referring to is Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., just 15 miles south of LAX.

The resort, which opened in 2009, is the former site of Marineland of the Pacific, once the largest oceanarium in the world, which was purchased by Sea World in 1987 and abruptly closed. This spot was not new to me. In 1986, I came to Marineland on a second-grade field trip. The net result of that expedition was a white plastic wallet, which I still have to this day. Soon after, it shut its doors. I cried when my mother told me. Little did I know then that about 25 years later I would venture back to the property for a fun-filled weekend.

Accommodating all types of travel, from two-person getaways to family vacations, Terranea has 20 oceanfront bungalows, 50 ocean-view casitas and 32 villas, and a 360-room hotel with 32 suites. From outdoor excursions to culinary bliss at seven diverse restaurants, Terranea offers a full roster of activities. If you want to spend time out and about enjoying nature, visit Pointe Discovery, which has been branded by the resort as “an active living store offering adventures that explore the rich local terrain and ocean environment.”

Terranea’s Aqua-Terra Adventures offers three kinds of outdoors excitement: Fun with Purpose focuses on conservation and preservation; Aqua Adventures promotes excursions at sea, including deep-sea fishing, ocean kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding; and TerrAdventures offers bird watching, gardening, horseback riding and more.

On the spa side, if it’s good enough for Mariah Carey, it’s good enough for me. The singer visited Terranea’s spa on her babymoon before having her twins last spring. But even if you are not saving up for a double birth, the summer spa sampler package is worth a try—for $125, it includes two signature 30-minute treatments.

Terranea offers a luxury vacation with more than just luxury—and thanks to its multi-night savings program, it pays to stay out of the Vegas heat for as long as possible. When you book seven nights or more you get a $250 resort credit and a 40 percent discount on the room rate.

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I’d been charmed by the decrepit Happi Inn for years. A two-story motor lodge built in 1973, it sat across from Mandalay Bay without offering even a hint of the same comfort or safety. It was a couple of plain, two-story buildings covered in fading salmon paint, with rotting AC units hanging under each window like loose teeth. For a long time, the marquee sign was missing the panel that said “Happi Inn,” leaving just “MOTEL.”



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