Cooling Down This Summer at Terranea Resort


After graduating from UCLA, JIll traveled the world looking for unique destinations. She’s been writing about her travels for almost 30 years in various publications.

She writes a weekly restaurant review for the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News. It’s inserted into the Los Angeles Times every Thursday and delivered to subscribers from Hancock Park to Beverly Hills, Hollywood Hills to the Wilshire Corridor.

Cooling Down This Summer at Terranea Resort



One of the best resorts in Southern California to cool down during this hot summer is at the oceanfront Terranea Resort. Located on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Terranea offers refreshing coastal breezes and unparalleled Pacific Ocean views.

When Terranea opened in 2009, at the former home of Marineland from 1954-1987, it soon became a popular vacation destination for a couples, families and multi-generational reunions.

Checking into the soaring ceiling lobby, the open entrance continues out to a picturesque terrace looking out to Catalina Island. It’s about 22 miles away from Terranea to the island.

Staying in one of the spacious guest rooms with a balcony, I enjoyed sitting above the main resort pool with a family-friendly splash pad, hot whirlpool and 140-foot waterslide. Ready to enjoy a meal at the all-day Catalina Kitchen below my room, I had the opportunity to talk with the new Executive Chef Andrew Vaughan. He was excited to share the news about the 8 different dining opportunities at the resort. “We are offering some exciting Vintner dinners. The series of special themed dinner feature items not generally found on the restaurant’s menu along with a wines paired with each course. In July, the culinary team at the modern Asian-style restaurant Bashi. curated a five-course dinner paired with varietals from Kenzo Estate.

Other exclusive dinners are held at Mar’sel, a fine dining restaurant overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The name mar’sel is both Spanish and French. Mar in Spanish means “sea” and the French word “salt” for sel.  Vaughan and his culinary team work have a chef’s garden, citrus trees, herbs and nearby Catalina View Farms to use local produce in many of their menu items.

When I asked about how he got his start as a chef, he shared a story of growing up in Louisiana. “I was working at the luxury Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans when hurricane Katrina hit. In just a matter of hours, my home, life, and job as a chef vanished,” said Vaughan. “Since I lost everything, I moved into the convention center.”  A few days later, FEMA offered him a one-way plane ticket to any city in the United States. “I chose Los Angeles, to explore the culinary scene on the West Coast and to avoid another hurricane.”

When a friend offered him a place to live, he met award-winning Chef Suzanne Goin and volunteered to work at her restaurant Lucques on Melrose. Through her connections, he managed to land a job to help open the SimonLA at the Sofitel across from The Beverly Center. Executive Chef Kerry Simon noticed Vaughan’s talent immediately, and within a month Vaughan became the Sous-Chef, and then Executive Sous-Chef at the restaurant.

Vaughan arrived at Terranea over 8 years ago, and now is the Executive Chef overseeing all the dining venues at the resort, plus in-room dining and creating appealing menus for meetings, weddings and special events.

In a recent interview, Ralph Grippo, president of Terranea Resort said, “Chef Andrew Vaughan brings over 27 years of luxury culinary experience, talent and management skills to this position. We know he will continue to elevate Terranea’s acclaimed culinary program by outsourcing the best seasonal products, applying well-executed classic techniques and keeping flavor profiles clean and distinctive.”

Besides dining, you will find an array of amenities to enhance the guest experience. Golfers appreciate the nine-hole, par-3 golf course named The Links at Terranea. Instead of playing golf, I visited the oceanfront spa one morning for a yoga class before breakfast. The spa offers a menu of treatments, fitness equipment, yoga classes and wellness center each day. It is also where one of the resort’s adult quiet pools are located. The views of Catalina Island are beautiful while lounging under an umbrella with a book and cool drink.

Near the Spa is the bluff side Nelson’s, a casual sit down dining venue named after the character Mike Nelson from the 1960’s TV show Sea Hunt. This is the location where it was filmed. During the summer, Nelson’s is the host of weekly outdoor live concerts and and beer garden.

Nelson’s offers marine colors and decor inside and picnic tables outside with white party lights for a festive atmosphere. Near the edge of a rocky cliff, this restaurant offers panoramic ocean and sunset views, while diners enjoy chips and guacamole, burgers, salads and sandwiches.

This is also a great place to start a self-guided nature walk. Terranea and Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy planted 14 acres of native plant habitat which can be seen all along this route. Aleppo pines and Sago palms were planted near The Spa. Purple blooming lavender enhance the aromas along the walk, mixed with refreshing marine air. Rosemary growing around the resort is used in the sea salt mixture, Chef Vaughan and his team, make to add to dishes at Mar’sel, and in different treatments at The Spa.

The resort’s Sea Salt conservatory is where the chefs collect water from the ocean, wait for it to evaporate until it becomes sea salt. Guests can also take home this sea salt available for purchase at Sea Beans.

Along the nature walk path are picnic tables and benches for guests to sit and enjoy viewing gray whales, harbor seals, sea lions and pelicans. Continue up to the Pointe Vicente Lighthouse and museum and Interpretive Center. It’s open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The lighthouse is owned by the Coast Guard and has been fully operational since 1926.

One of the best activities in order to cool during the warm months is floating on top of the Pacific Ocean on a kayak or paddle board. The resort’s beach cove offers guided tours to private coves with advanced reservations. Visit 100 Terranea WY, Rancho Palos Verdes, (310)265-2861.

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