Terranea Resort – EcoBuzz LA’s Eco Resort of the Year

Just 20 miles from LAX and 30 miles from the hustle and bustle of downtown Los Angeles, on the serene coastline of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, you will find Terranea Resort, the epitome of eco-luxury.  An oceanfront resort, surrounded on three sides by the Pacific Ocean with a 270 degree unobstructed ocean view, old-world Mediterranean architecture and a clear view of Catalina Island directly across the channel, Terranea truly is paradise.

Click on the slideshow below to view a photo tour of Terranea Resort:


Fun fact:  The Terranea site was home to the aquatic theme park Marineland of the Pacific from 1954-1987 and the location of many films and TV shows over the years including Sea Hunt, Pirates of the Caribbean, Charlie’s Angels, Pearl Harbor, The Beverly Hillbillies, Aviator, and The Partridge Family.

But it’s not the beautiful location and stunning views that make Terranea EcoBuzz LA’s top choice for Eco Resort of the Year (although the gorgeous site certainly doesn’t hurt), it’s Terranea’s unparalleled (at least in the resort world) dedication to ecological sustainability.  Terranea’s unique relationship to the surrounding natural environment offers great opportunities to enjoy nature at it’s best.  Whether you are watching whales migrating along the Pacific coast, the endangered butterflies laying eggs on their native host plants, or the sea lions frolicking in the surf you can’t help but notice that every effort has been made to protect and preserve the natural environment and open space that Terranea shares with these creatures.

Casitas at Terranea Resort

Commitment to the Environment

Even before construction began, Terranea developers established a set of environmental commitments to respect the precious coastal setting.

“When we set out with the initial design of Terranea, we did so with a strong environmental and ecological ethic trying to weave what we are doing here into the existing fabric of Palos Verdes.  Our commitment to preserve the natural environment extends well beyond the terrestrial environment into the ocean.  We are committed to preserving the coastal resources.” – Todd Majcher, VP of Development at Lowe Enterprises

These commitments addressed environmental concerns during development, construction and day-to-day resort operations.

Terranea’s list of eco-minded practices is both extensive and impressive.  Here are a few highlights:

Plants and Wildlife

Terranea planted nearly 14 acres of natural Coastal Sage Scrub habitat, recreating the indigenous California coastal terrain providing a welcoming environment for the endangered Palos Verdes Blue Butterfly, El Segundo Blue Butterfly and California Gnatcatcher.


Palos Verdes Blue Butterfly


Developers used locally cultivated plant material grown by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy to replace non-native plants with ones indigenous to the area.

Marine Life

Terranea mitigates storm water runoff using a storm water treatment system that treats the most polluted first flush of rainfall from each storm.  In addition to the onsite rainfall, 75% of the stormwater that is filtered and cleaned comes from the private and public land behind Terranea that, in the past, would flow through the site into the ocean untreated.  Now the first 3/4 inch of runoff from each storm passes through Terranea’s storm water treatment system first.  Thanks to this advanced storm water protection plan, ocean water quality tests performed after construction show that the health of the aquatic ecosystem at the site has improved since the baseline tests run prior to construction.  Great news for the marine life in the area!

Fun fact:  Proceeds from the coin operated telescopes along the scenic bluffs are donated to local non-profit organizations like the Marine Mammal Care Center, Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy and the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.

Green Building

  • No land was removed from the site
  • Materials from the former occupants (Marineland) were recycled and reused during construction
  • Stone veneers on walls and crushed rock under roads and walkways were quarried from 65,000 tons of onsite stone
  • 45 mature trees planted by Marineland over 50 years ago were saved (having been left to die after Marineland vacated the premises) and kept at Terranea
  • 75% of all construction waste was diverted from landfills
  • Pavers were made from clay and shale (abundant natural materials) and set in sand to create a permeable surface allowing water to infiltrate into the ground
  • High ratio of green space to buildings/impervious surfaces – 75 out of Terranea’s 102 acres are open green space
  • Recycled wine bottle counter and bar tops in Nelson’s Restaurant
  • Reclaimed wood furnishings in Nelson’s Restaurant
  • Low flow toilets & shower heads
  • Circulating hot water
  • Utilize natural daylight
  • Energy efficient CFLs, low voltage devices, dimmers and motion detector switches used wherever possible resulting in a lighting system that uses only 3 watts per square foot
Lobby Entrance - Terranea Resort

Lobby Entrance - Terranea Resort

Day-to-Day Eco-Friendly Practices

  • Use fresh, local, organic, seasonal and sustainable food with abundant vegetarian options
  • Food donation and composting programs for leftover food
  • Donation program for unfinished toiletries
  • Paperless check-in/check-out, conference materials, press and sales kits
  • Green-key system (recyclable, biodegradable paperboard room keys)
  • Lights, HVAC, computers, etc. are off when rooms are not occupied
  • Hybrid and low-emission vehicles
  • Access to public transportation, shuttles, car/van pools
  • Recycling program that includes paper, glass, plastic, metals, organic waste, batteries, light bulbs and printer cartridges
  • Reusable decorations, china, utensils, tablecloths, napkins and water bottles
  • Employee uniforms are made from a variety of eco-friendly fabrics such as organic cotton, bamboo and recycled water bottles
  • Bioswales, essentially created wetlands, treat irrigation water at the resort’s 9-hole golf course by remediating contaminants in vegetated channels.  The bioswales also provide habitat for many avian and aquatic species.
  • Pesticides and fertilizers are organic or have no residual effect
  • Biodegradable golf tees
  • Pools are treated with salt water instead of a chlorinated system (environmentally preferable as it lessens the amount of chlorinated water that enters the country’s sewer system and is healthier for those enjoying the pools)
  • Water testing, at regular intervals and storm specific, is performed to ensure that the water quality is meeting or exceeding goals

And… our favorite…


Birds of prey are used as a natural, eco-friendly, non-lethal solution for deterring unwelcome avian visitors.  Terranea has contracted with a licensed falconry based bird control service to keep the unwanted seagull population at bay.  Since the mere presence of an owl, falcon, or hawk is a strong deterrent to many unwanted birds and rodents, these birds of prey are used as a natural, eco-friendly, non-lethal solution for deterring unwelcome visitors.  In addition to being a successful environmentally-friendly abatement program, the birds of prey are a majestic attraction in their own right.

American Harris Hawk

American Harris Hawk



Resort Tour

The first thing you notice when you arrive at Terranea (besides the sheer beauty of the site) is the seamless blend from native landscape to resort structures.  There is a flow between the indoor and outdoor environment that makes it feel as though it is one open space.  The second thing you notice is how comfortable you feel, not just because the average temperatures at Terranea are in the 70s for most of the year, but because the staff is so warm and welcoming.  Whether you are there to enjoy the oceanfront trails with your dog, attend a business conference, dine at one of the restaurants, or stay at the resort, the down-to-earth staff makes you feel right at home.  Luxury without pretense.

And in case all of this eco-friendly talk has you imagining a mud hut set in a field of sage scrub (not that there is anything wrong with that ;-)), let me assure you that Terranea is THE embodiment of a luxury resort.  They have mastered the art of incorporating eco-friendly existence into every day comfort and luxury.  View a virtual photo tour of Terranea.

mar'sel Garden at Terranea Resort

mar'sel Edible Garden at Terranea Resort



Resort Stats:

102 acres, 582 rooms (including villas, casitas, bungalows, suites, and hotel guestrooms)
Ballrooms and meeting rooms
Meadow for outdoor events
The Links at Terranea – award-winning, 9-hole, par 3 golf course
Spa and pools
Hot tubs and firepits
Discovery Trail – bluff-top trail connecting miles of coastal walking and hiking trails
Secluded beach cove and sea cave
Scuba diving and kayaking
Children’s Center
8 Eateries + bars & lounges

  • mar’sel:  signature restaurant offering California cuisine prepared by Chef Michael Fiorelli using herbs and produce grown on the property in the chef’s herb and vegetable garden
  • Catalina Kitchen:  Mediterranean inspired dining with comfortable indoor seating as well as outdoor seating overlooking the resort pool and water slide. (Tip: expansive and delicious Saturday breakfast/lunch buffet and Sunday brunch)
  • Nelson’s:  My fav!  Casual scenic dining serving regional favorites like shrimp tacos, burgers, fish & chips and much more with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, Catalina Island, and Pt. Vicente Lighthouse.  Sit at the bar and enjoy the panoramic views while sipping on one of the local micro brews or California wines served on a bartop made from recycled wine bottles.  Or sit outside on the patio or by the outdoor fire pits.  Canine friends are welcome in the outdoor seating area.  Fun fact:  Nelson’s is named after the lead character Mike Nelson (played by Lloyd Bridges) in the hit television series Sea Hunt which was filmed at the Terranea site in the 50s and 60s.  Nelson’s also pays tribute to Lloyd Bridges’ environmental activism with furnishings mad of recycled materials and the recycled glass countertops.
  • Terranea Grill:  poolside service at the resort pool
  • Cielo Point: casual eatery at the adult pool
  • Discovery Trail Refreshments:  refreshing beverages and afternoon nibbles along the ocean-front hiking trail (canine friends welcome)
  • Spa Cafe:  open for breakfast and lunch
  • Sea Beans:  coffee bar and cafe near the resort courtyard entrance offering gourmet coffee, organic tea, homemade gelato, sandwiches, salads, pastries, desserts, picnics to go, personal amenities, and some grocery items
  • Lobby Bar, Living Room and Terrace: enjoy a cocktail, glass of wine, coffee or tea in club chairs by the fireplace in the Lobby Bar or on the comfortable sofas in the Living Room or on the patio terrace

+ tons more…. visit www.terrenea.com for more information

Nelson's Firepit at Terranea Resort

Nelson's Firepit at Terranea Resort



My Personal Experience

I have been to Terranea more times than I can count.  I love it there.  Before Terranea was built, I watched the land change hands a few times.  Then I watched the resort construction.  Then I waited eagerly for opening day not knowing what to expect.  I was not disappointed.  It’s an incredible place.  I feel so relaxed and happy just walking around the grounds.  I love all of the restaurants, but am particularly fond of Nelson’s.  I enjoy walking on the trails, visiting the tide pools, and hiking over the rocks to explore the sea cave.  I’ve taken the kids to birthday parties at the pool.  I had my anniversary dinner and numerous birthday lunches there.  We take our dogs for walks at Terranea.  It’s also one of my favorite places to take photographs.  Here’s one I took while having my birthday lunch at Nelson’s:

Pt. Vicente Lighthouse

Pt. Vicente Lighthouse as seen from Nelson's patio



Terranea Resort
100 Terranea Way
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275




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