Somewhat tucked away in an unassuming lot on Vulcan Avenue in Encinitas, the Inn at Moonlight Beach aims to transport its guests to a calming, healthy getaway.
The establishment, which officially opened Feb. 26 following a nearly year-long soft opening, features five modern-themed suites and amenities such as a meditation garden, yoga deck, outdoor fire pit and biodynamic garden in a house-like structure across from Moonlight Beach.
The project is the brainchild of Shangwen Kennedy, who lives on the second level of the property with her co-owner and husband Mike Kennedy and the couple's two children. Shangwen, who has a history in urban design and developed structure plans for whole cities around the world, wanted to create a place where she could make people feel happy.
"The place is about the joy of connecting," she said of the Inn. "The joy of connecting with people, nature and alignment with yourself. I would like the experience staying at the Inn to open up what guests didn't expect, like friendship, love or contribution. Our intention is that you walk in one way, but leave completely nurtured and uplifted."
Prior to conceptualizing the Inn, the Harvard-trained, Taiwanese-born woman created shared homes for international students and young professionals in Massachusetts.
"I was helping 20 to 30 people a year," she said. "At the Inn, I can help 20 people a day."
The couple found the site, which was built in 1970 and operated as a bed-and-breakfast inn, in 2016 and purchased the building in 2017. It began soft opening operations last May, opening each room one by one.
Shangwen redesigned the building but retained features from the original structure, including wooden panels, bamboo and some artwork, such as a peacock painting spanning the wall of one of the larger suites.
The Kennedys aimed to adhere to WELL Building Standards, which are grounded in research and aimed to promote and enhance health and wellness for the occupants. The Inn is under consideration to become the first WELL Building Standard-certified hospitality building worldwide. Currently, there are less than 150 buildings with the distinction, and most of them are offices and hospitals, Shangwen said. There are 19 other WELL-certified facilities in California.
Some of the major concepts considered for WELL Being Standards are air quality, water, lighting, fitness, nutrition and the mind.
The Inn offers a top-notch water filtration system — which Mike, a full-time data science analyst, notes means the water there is "cleaner than water bottles" — an air purifying system in every room, fresh-grown produce, yoga equipment and various lighting options.
Upon arrival, guests are greeted with a freshly brewed cup of tea and fresh fruit, as well as soothing sounds and scents from the in-room aromatherapy diffuser. Most rooms also offer partial ocean views with private decks for yoga, meditation and relaxation.
Every morning, the innkeepers deliver healthy breakfasts to their guests in picnic baskets, which can then be eaten in the rooms, in a communal area or at the beach or park.
Guests can also borrow complimentary yoga and exercise mats, beach chairs, picnic blankets, umbrellas, tents, kids' toys, cribs and sunscreen. They are also encouraged to visit nearby businesses and spas to get a fuller Encinitas experience.
A 24-hour common area also offers guests complimentary tea, coffee, fresh fruit and healthy snacks.
The idea, Shangwen said, was to provide a space where her guests can relax and not think about outside worries.
For more information about the Inn at Moonlight Beach, visit www.innatmoonlightbeach.com. The establishment is located at 105 N. Vulcan Avenue.