I had been aware of the financial problems encountered by the owners of the Terranea Resort as they sought to open this four star resort. In re-using the 100 acres formerly housing Marineland of the Pacific, the developer had to overcome the objections of the city, the residents, the California Coastal Commission and eventually, the banks as they sought to get this 582 room hotel open. Following the opening, and despite better than expected occupancy and glowing reviews, they had to file for reorganization.
I would never have booked a trip here except for the offer from TravelZoo for a rate that was about 33% off plus a $50.00/daily restaurant credit. And yes, I was intrigued to see what all the fuss had been about. A four star resort basically in the middle of nowhere? Had they pulled it off?
I went in looking for problems and I found few. The registration went without a hitch and included their customary offer of a glass of champagne or bottle of water. Our TravelZoo offer was for an oceanfront room and that is exactly what we got. The room was spacious, the bathroom came complete with both a bathtub and a shower, the linens were top notch and the room had a flat screen TV. Every room has a balcony or a patio that comfortably seats 2 (although with little privacy).
My one objection (which isn't major) is that the primary elevator near the lobby is quite a distance from some of the rooms. The hotel is laid out to take advantage of the ocean (although there are court yard views also) so the hallways zig and zag throughout the property. In addition, because the property is basically built on a hillside, what you would think of as ground level (where the lobby is) turns out to be the fourth floor. We were on the fifth floor of the six story building and yet if we went down a stair way at the end of our hall, we were in the parking lot exactly where we had parked our car. So we never used the elevators in the lobby but this is not a luxury that everyone will have.
This is a resort so that really should be the emphasis. To that end Terranea excels. Our first restaurant was the casual "sea shanty" Nelson's. We were there for appetizers and a drink as we waited for the sun to set. There was a fireplace on the patio and a fire pit in an open area over looking the setting sun (while a few whales passed by).
Our resort credit was only good at their casual eatery/convenience stor, seaBeans. You can get coffee/tea/smoothies there in addition to pastries and simple breakfasts. They also have available food to go for those on the run. Lunch is a mix of salads, wraps and sandwiches. Dinner has light fare but includes a gelato bar. All items are reasonably priced.
We didn't try Catalina Kitchen, bashi or Mar'sel. We walked by Mar'sel and saw their herb garden so we know they are using fresh ingredients. We walked by bashi and could see they were in the final throes of re-landscaping for the Asian theme. We suspect Catalina Kitchen was the go-to breakfast/lunch place for people at the hotel for a convention (of which there were three groups while we were there) but given our credit and the casualness of seabeans we were comfortable going there.
We did not partake in the spa but we did play the nine hole par-3 golf course. That was very enjoyable with exceedingly good service from the guys in the pro shop. They are understandably proud of the niche they serve which includes hotel guests as well as locals filling their tee times with women's events, local challenge events and of course hotel generated group events.
It was the folks at the pro shop that gave us the low down on the resort. They believe that because the resort is a little off the beaten path it lends itself well to corporate sponsored retreats and conventions. They said another large group is the local residents who are looking to get away for a couple days maybe to escape young families by leaving the kids with grandma and grandpa while the new parents seek a romantic weekend away....close to home.
We barely touched the amenities available. We didn't go swimming, we didn't "spa", we didn't partake in bocce or croquet, but they were all there. I think this facility is many things to many people but one of the things it is is a good source of employment. The staff from the front desk to the restaurants to the ground crew to the pro shop all acknowledged and greeted us during our 48 hour stay. And while I would prefer to pay a discounted price in the low season, I can see where this would be a wonderful romantic get away even if it was at full price.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.