Jun 232020
At Terranea, guests go on holiday as employees go back to work
Photo by Chuck Bennett

Malin Lashley wanted to do something special for her husband on Father’s Day weekend. The Moorpark couple agreed they needed a little break from the new normal of hunkering down at home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, they were happy to be near the front of the well-spaced check-in line at Terranea, a luxury resort on Palos Verdes Peninsula. They were some of the first guests at the resort’s reopening since it closed three months ago.

“This was a wonderful gift from my wife to me, Kevin Lashley said. “I going to go heavy on the room service — and cocktails — I’m not going to lie.  And my 4-year-old son is going to go heavy on the swimming pool.”

Joining them at the check-in counter were first-time guests  Monica Waraich, a Downey resident opening arecycling business and her friend from West Hollywood, Sunita Boparai, a frontline medical worker.

“I’ve been in quarantine for nine weeks and haven’t even seen my parents,“ said Boparai, a intensive care nurse at Cedar Sinai Medical Center. “Since things are starting to open up, now is the time to do a weekend getaway. It’s a close, fun trip.”

Terranea has had no trouble enduring its three-month closure, according to its president Terri Haack, thanks to robust pre-pandemic business and a reserve fund that covers expenses during financial downturns.

“We’ve have an ownership group since the beginning who are fiercely protective of Terranea,” said Haack,  the resort’s top executive since its inception in 2009.

The re-opening of Terranea is good news for Rancho Palos Verdes as well as more than 96% of the city’s transient occupancy taxes comes from the resort, funding capital improvement projects and public safety.

When Terranea and other businesses closed, said City Manager Ara Mihranian, the city was also hurting from the shutdown.

“We are happy to see them open,” Mihranian said. “The department anticipates the COVID-19 pandemic could potentially cost Rancho Palos Verdes $2.6 million in overall revenue loss in fiscal year 2019-2020 and nearly $3.3 million in 2020-2021. That’s about nine percent of the City’s revenue each fiscal year.”

Safety measures for reopening

The approach for reopening the resort to guests and staff, Haack said, was to act as if Terranea was opening for the first time.

Terranea has implemented the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Safe Stay, following industry-wide best practices for protecting against the coronavirus, she said.

Much of the resort’s budget will be spent on technology and safety protocols, such as training housekeeping staff on Centers for Disease Control procedures, daily packets of hand sanitizer, gloves and masks and seals over door locks of individual rooms.

Golf course and dining

When guests return to Terranea, they’ll also find well-manicured golf course and grounds, said Agnelo Fernandes, Terranea’s chief strategy officer and executive vice president.

“We have been working diligently to ensure that all of our facilities and activity offerings are modified appropriately to accommodate physical distancing and maintain a safe and comfortable environment,” Fernandes said.

Fernandes added reserved tee times at The Links must be made and paid for in advance online to eliminate physical contact.

“We also request that golfers bring their own clubs, tees, and markers,” said Fernandes, adding that flagsticks should not be removed.

In addition to in-room dining, these restaurants are open:

  • SEA BEANs cafe at the main lobby courtyard;
  • Nelson’s;
  • Lobby Bar;
  • And poolside pickup/carryout at the Resort Pool and Vista Pool.

Nelson’s and Lobby Bar will feature live music with physical distancing and limited dining on Friday and Saturday evenings. Terranea will gradually open more dining outlets as part of a phased reopening process, said Fernandes.

‘Largest employer on the hill’

The resort’s reopening also brings jobs back to the area, according to President and CEO Eileen Hupp of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.

“Terranea is the largest employer of any business on the hill,” Hupp said. “The resort has always been committed to supporting other businesses in the community.”

Hupp said in addition to supporting nonprofits on the hill, when Terranea is over capacity, they send guests to other businesses such as florists, hair salons and restaurants.

Haack said the Terranea partners also paid the company’s share and the employee’s share of medical insurance for them and their families for the months of April, May and June.

“I did have to furlough nearly 1,200 associates, but we kept them on active payroll for insurance. I still had to lay off nearly 53 percent of those furloughed,” Haack said.

Employees were furloughed and laid off according to seniority, said Haack. As the resort opens amenities and more staff is required, Haack said she is committed to hiring first from the laid-off pool of workers.

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