Terranea is a sprawling resort community perched on dramatic cliffs overlooking the pacific. It has everything you would expect from a 400+ room luxury property — the five star spa, an award-winning restaurant, mar’sel with a famed chef, a celebrated golf course, even a falconry program where kids and curious adults can get up close with the birds of prey that act as eco scarecrows and keep seagulls from the property. But the best part of Terranea is on the far north end of the property where you can sip craft cocktails at sunset while watching flocks of pelicans soaring along the horizon as schools of wild dolphins frolic alongside them. Then, out of nowhere the unmistakable spray from a Gray Whale will pierce up, rupturing the rhythm of soft waves at twilight. The whales are migrating south to play, breed and give birth in the warmer waters of Mexico and will travel hundreds of miles more to get there. The older gentleman who is sitting next to me is wearing a Panama hat and with a huge grin he tells me how he’s here with his kids who have kids of their own, and they’ve been coming here for 14 years. Each time they come they search for the whales each night at this elevated pub style dining option called Nelsons. Now I get why this place is special. I feel like I am in another world. I am not. I remind myself that I am only 25 miles from Los Angeles. Yes 25 miles. When Lexus asked if I would be interested in driving their new RX450 Hybrid for a few days to experience their partnership with Terranea I knew it would be nice but this was magical. As a writer I often get offered nice things and “luxury” experiences but this came complete with whales. I knew Emily would want whales too. Emily and I met a year ago and now we are frequent sidekicks on assignment together. We had just returned from a whirlwind trip across Egypt when I told her about the Lexus opp. I explained she had to take pretty photos of the car but we could potentially see whales and there would be good wine. “I’m down”, she said with a smile.
The car of course drove like a dream and we were visibly sad when we had to give it back. And while Terranea was beautiful, living up to its exclusive reputation as a destination for the rich and famous as it has been for nearly a hundred years, it was the man in the Panama hat and the way he talked about his kids and his grandkids that made us truly glad we were there. Lexus was smart to partner with a property whose commitment to the environment shines through in uncommon things like biodynamic gardening, offering eco-whale watching tours and hikes with in-depth ecological lessons including a look at the impressive amount of sea salt they naturally harvest each year. All of this mimics the strides Lexus has made to consciously innovate their vehicles from year to year.
It makes sense to align our travel choices with our values and take time to truly heal the mind, body and spirit. That night at Nelson’s what was more moving than seeing the Grey and Blue whales was hearing that their numbers have increased greatly. If you’re lucky one might surface in front of your paddle-board. Or maybe you will just smile as they appear while you sip craft cocktails. Either way — it’s those moments that matter.
Originally published at medium.com