The air is uncommonly rich with moisture, and the plant life on the Peninsula is grateful for it. Verdant leaves and vibrant blooms line the walking trails at Terranea. The scent of fresh rosemary, coastal sage, and the sweet aroma of natal plum vie for your attention.
Standing near the trail’s edge overlooking the Pacific, Lauren Bergloff gestures to the pelicans floating overhead and smiles. There was a time these birds were endangered, their numbers deeply depressed due to the pesticide DDT. “After the pesticide was made illegal, the pelican numbers started coming back and now we see them every day,” she says.
Lauren, the Sustainability Leader at Terranea, is friendly with an infinite amount of knowledge and respect for her Southern California surroundings. She beams when she talks about the wildlife on the property, detailing their characteristics—colors, scents, textures—with a fond appreciation.
Her favorite scent emits from coastal sage. “It smells like a spa,” she says. The color is mint-like, soft and delicate to the touch, due to the rain. In the fall it will take on a different texture.
One of her favorite words is crepuscular. She points this out as she explains that the cottontail bunnies found on the resort are most active during dawn and dusk. She even has a favorite succulent: the Zwartkop. The contrast between the Zwartkop’s brilliant yellow bloom and its deep purple leaves is striking. They proudly posture their beauty—despite requiring minimal care to flourish.
Terranea is filled with these juxtapositions. It is beauty paired with sustainability. Its design is effortless yet meticulously mindful. Out of the resort’s 102 acres, 75% of the property is greenspace, with 12 acres of restored native habitat.
From its origin, Terranea has partnered with the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy. “All of these native plants are from them,” Lauren says. “A drip irrigation system was [introduced] to make sure the plants were established, but now that they are—and because they’re native plants—there’s no need to water them.”
Re-establishing some of the Peninsula’s native greenery is not only environmentally conscious and esthetically pleasing; it’s enabled dwindling populations of wildlife to thrive. The El Segundo blue butterfly is tiny and delicate. Its wings flaunt a dusty blue hue when open, a soft grey with a touch of orange when closed.
A federally endangered species, the El Segundo blue butterfly can only be found in the South Bay. Terranea’s cultivation of the coast buckwheat, a plant the El Segundo blue needs to survive, has successfully attracted the butterfly to the property—contributing to its survival.
Not all of the plants at Terranea are native. The three species of hummingbirds found on the Peninsula—the Rufous, the Allen’s and the Anna’s—flirt with the flowers blooming from the birds of paradise. The coral trees that remained after the 1986 closure of Marineland of the Pacific—a seaside animal theme park that once resided on the grounds—were salvaged and redistributed around the resort. When in bloom, the trees fill with vibrant coral-colored flowers.
But while not every plant has Californian roots, the climate of their origin mirrors that of the Peninsula, minimizing their imprint on the resort’s resources. “There are not a lot of places [in Los Angeles] that aren’t developed,” Lauren says. “We’re trying to bring plants back that will help the native species.”
As the California bush sunflower starts to bloom, the region ignites with yellow blossoms, and it becomes clear that we too benefit greatly from Terranea’s preservation efforts. There is a sense of tranquility that ensues—an inherent feeling of balance that arises when surrounded by such natural beauty.
And it’s not exclusive. The hiking trails on the Peninsula are open to the public; Lauren leads daily 10 a.m. nature walks for anyone looking to learn more about the flora and fauna that surrounds them. Additional education opportunities are available through the resort’s falconry program and guided coastal walks.
Joe Roy III drapes a towel over the large glass plaque located near an open area of the resort. “He might come through at speed,” he says. “We’ll see what happens.” He has one of his male falcons, Shaman, flying high above the resort. “He’s one of my favorite birds to fly here. He’s super-visual.”
High over our heads, Joe spots Shaman—a mere speck in the sky. Holding a small leather bag, roughly the size of a human’s fist and attached to a long strap, Joe begins to whip the bag in large circular motions. Shaman sees this and in a flash darts toward the sea. At least it appears so, until with great speed he makes his descent—landing on Joe’s arm with complete control.
The experience is humbling … the power of this bird of prey on full display. He is beautiful and curiously exciting to watch, but Shaman too plays an important role at Terranea. He is a working bird.
“It’s all about ecology,” Joe points out. “We didn’t always understand the role predators played. We frankly thought they were kind of extraneous. Eventually we began to understand predators play a more instrumental role in this whole balance thing.”