Spa at Terranea, Southern California Spas

spa at terranea, resort, southern california
Photo courtesy of Spa at Terranea

by Anne Dimon

Think expansive ocean view. Think the sound of waves crashing the shoreline. Think a first class, comprehensive resort spa about a 35-minute drive from the Los Angeles airport and you have the Spa at Terranea (pronounced Ter-a-NAY-a).

I had the pleasure of spending the better part of a day at the Terranea Resort in the wealthy, residential town of Rancho Palos Verdes, California and what I am most impressed with is the spacious spa’s superior oceanfront location on a pristine peninsula.

Laid out like a boutique resort (minus a accommodations), the two-level Spa at Terranea opened in June of 2009 along with the Terranea Resort offering a mix of guest rooms and condos. Set on a cliff a short stroll from the hotel lobby and down a terraced lot towards the ocean, The Spa at Terranea is one of just a handful of luxury resort spas along the North American Pacific coast line.

With 25 treatment room, a salon that encompasses manicure and pedicure areas, comfortable lounges with help-yourself refreshments and snacks, you’ll find all the amenities here that you’d expect to find at any luxury resort spa. But that in itself does not merit a story. When I accept an invitation to a spa I like to zero in on the points of distinction. What is it that makes one spa different from the next? What is the main point of differentiation?

At the Spa at Terranea, beyond the striking oceanfront location there are also a number of other features that allow it to stand apart:

First of all, the size (50,000 square feet) and spacious feel of the place lends some uniqueness to it.

From the moment you enter, the design and layout combine to offer visitors the gift of space. There’s a large reception and retail area with product lines, gift items and resort wear beautifully displayed, and several generously-sized terraces one with lounge chairs and a whirlpool, another with poolside cabanas. Other amenities include a large outdoor pool exclusive to spa guests, an oceanfront gym and a fitness studio for a variety of daily classes available free to spa guests. With several trails on the property and about two miles of coastal access trails, it’s no surprise that guests can also partake of a running class.

A light-filled spa café with seating both indoors and pool side offers a selection of healthy dishes for various times of day from low fat yogurt with granola to salads, sandwiches and desserts. Wines are also available with a couple of selections from vineyards ‘guided by the principles of sustainability.’

Secondly, the spa menu was designed to offer specific treatments attuned to the body at specific times of the day. The ‘circadian rhythm’ spa concept is not unique (Spa Avania in Phoenix Arizona, for instance, takes the concept to an even higher level) but it is not so commonplace to make it unworthy of note. Treatments here are divided into time zones: Morning and Early Afternoon Recommendations, Bridging Time and Late Afternoon and Evening Recommendations. Spa director Melida Milner says spa treatments ‘shouldn’t detract from the body’s natural rhythms and sometimes (the right) treatment can also get you back on track.’ The treatments, she says, complement what’s going on with the body at certain times of the day. She points out, ‘morning scrubs are not about exfoliation but about awakening the skin. Exfoliation is a nice byproduct.’

Melinda booked me for the El Segundo Blue a 90-minute aromatherapy massage and wrap with mineral clay recommended for late afternoon and evenings due to the feelings of deep relaxation and renewal it inspires. This is the type of treatment perfectly designed for the Ocean Suite with its deep soaker copper tub for two and double doors open to the ocean. Instead of listening to the simulated ocean sounds, you’re listing to the real thing – waves crashing against the shore perfectly synchronized, it seems, with the treatment’s rhythmic massage techniques.

With all it has to offer, including the opportunity to just sit and listen to the ocean, watch the tides or walk along the scenic coast, The Spa at Terranea is that rare type of spa that you visit not just for a treatment – you go for the day.