Home » Hispanic Heritage » Celebrating Diversity at a Seaside Resort

Celebrating diversity and encouraging employee development is often lip service — but at this Los Angeles resort, it’s the standard.

Located on coastal bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Terranea Resort’s natural beauty is obvious. Across 102 acres, the resort offers a luxurious guest experience, including a full-service spa, nine distinct culinary experiences, a first-class golf course, and much more. What sets the resort apart, however, isn’t just its incredible views and facilities — it’s the way it treats its more than 1,200 employees, 54 percent of whom are Hispanic.

“Our ability to provide exceptional guest experiences and customer service is directly related to the happiness of our associates,” said Terranea president Terri A. Haack. “We believe diversity speaks to who we are.”

Like a family

While many employers refer to their staff as family, Terranea’s employees believe it’s true for them.

“We are all treated as equals,” said Nancy Lopez, a housekeeping supervisor at the resort. “I am a different person because of working here.”

Nancy came to Terranea after going through a divorce that left her with three children to support and little confidence in her professional prospects. “Before joining Terranea, I had no idea I had qualities that would be of value,” she said. “Terranea helped me grow and has given me so many opportunities. This is where I want to build my career.”

A great place to work

The resort’s efforts to support their workers goes beyond a great atmosphere, and include education and outreach, career mapping and planning, and mentorship programs. This dedication to their employees has gotten Terranea a lot of positive attention, including recognition as a “Top Employer in Los Angeles County” and “Best Hospitality Company to Work For” by Los Angeles News Group.

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“I have always been extremely impressed with the resort’s ability to infuse across a workforce of its size such a high level of professionalism, positive attitude, hospitality, and courtesy,” said Eileen Hupp, president and CEO of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Chamber of Commerce,. “This level of ‛shared culture’ can only be accomplished when the employer has created an atmosphere of mutual respect.”

Life is different

The resort doubles down on the family atmosphere by offering a bonus to their employees — 40 percent of the Hispanic community have worked there for five years or more — for recruiting family members. The strategy has given rise to the resort’s unofficial staff slogan, “Life is different at Terranea.”

“We are all a family here — you don’t see that at many companies,” said Connie Lopez, Nancy’s 27-year-old daughter. Connie began working as a host at one of the resort’s restaurants at the urging of her mother. “It’s the best feeling knowing my mom is thriving here — and it’s such fun to bump into her in the associate dining room and see her picture on the wall.”

Connie hopes to take advantage of the opportunities the resort offers and eventually become a pastry chef there, a dream that’s right in line with the resort’s philosophy. “Terranea recruits candidates who have the right attitude, potential and capacity to be ‛cultural ambassadors,’” said Haack, “and then gives them the resources, support, and training to achieve their dreams and goals.”

The result is a working environment that is Terranea-proud and celebrates both the individual skills and the varied heritage of their employees.

“The supervisors and managers remind us that everyone is valuable here, no matter what your background, ethnicity, and beliefs, or whether you have a college degree or not,” said Nancy Lopez. “It’s been a pleasure for me to be a part of the Terranea team.”

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Jeff Somers, [email protected]

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