Shangwen Kennedy never intended to become a hotel owner, but when the opportunity presented itself, her deep-rooted passion forurban design resurfaced.
"I have a passion for creating places that uplift, inspire and elevate the way people live,” shares Shangwen Kennedy, landscape, building and urban designer, now owner and chief visual officer, of the Inn at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. Talented and accomplished (she has degrees from Cornell and Harvard), Kennedy helmed a range of prestigious civic and social projects—from helping reimagine Shanghai’s public waterfront, The Bund, to founding international shared housing community EatPlayLove in Cambridge, Mass.—before moving to San Diego and starting a family five years ago. Created alongside husband Mike, her newest venture—built on LEED principles and run on sustainable keystones, including minimizing its environmental footprint through the use of reclaimed materials—is on track to become the world’s first WELL Building Standard-certified hospitality building.
“It was never part of our plan to own a hotel. Surprisingly, however, becoming innkeepers gives us a chance to share what is important to us and what we value with more people. I love being exposed to new cultures and meeting new people, so it’s really a dream come true,” says Kennedy. Designed to support health, well-being and a sense of community, the property also includes spiritual elements—including a Tibetan singing bowl and smudging station beside the lobby (Kennedy’s favorite place to meet and talk with guests), and a serene yoga deck and meditation garden overlooked by Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of abundance. During each full and new moon, flowers and medicinal herbs are harvested from the biodynamic gardens for garlands and herbal pouches. “Awakening the five senses is kind of our ‘magic touch’ here. We wanted to create a place for our guests to experience the joy of connecting—both with nature and oneself—and having Lakshmi as our deity really enforces this idea about the site nourishing life from the ground up.”