The Coast News Group
The Inn at Moonlight Beach sets up a farm stand on Sunday, among its many offerings focused on sustainability. Courtesy photo
Soul on Fire

A new paradigm in spiritual hospitality

Crazy to think it’s been three years since I introduced the readers to the Inn at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas.

You remember the place: tranquil environment with curated items like infused honey and a biodynamic garden with herbs grown on-site to be used in the bath and for tea, or to be scattered in your room service basket or foot soaking bowl.

In fact, the entire property is enveloped in a connected, living, biodynamic urban farm filled with medicinal herbs, flowers, succulents, vegetables, fruits and teas that they love to share and savor with their guests — all the things that make you feel loved and cared for on another level.

“People want wellness-conscious travel today,” says owner Shangwen Kennedy, right. Courtesy photo

Sublime, yes, but it’s the details of Shangwen Kennedy’s vision and ethos that inspire everything here.

And the world is taking notice.

The Inn at Moonlight Beach has been recognized globally for being the first hotel or inn to achieve the WELL Certified Platinum Designation, an impressive feat on its own. This is an elite performance-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.

As if that wasn’t over the top, the Inn at Moonlight Beach has caught the eye of the International Real Estate Federation and its FIABCI-USA Grand Prix of Real Estate Awards, and it will receive its prestigious Innovative and Impactful Development designation in the hotel category.

This global conglomerate is dedicated to sustainable development and is looking to Shangwen and the Inn at Moonlight Beach to raise consciousness and provide guidance for all developments, not just in hospitality, based on the impressive sustainability practices she has implemented at her Inn.

“The world is transforming rapidly, and people are becoming more conscious and awakened day by day. People want wellness-conscious travel today,” she says. “The industry needs to recognize this and adapt. But WELL is good business now, and this is just the beginning.”

Let’s take a look at the ethos of the Inn. The dictionary loosely describes ethos as “the characteristic spirit of belief and aspirations of an operation.” Here is the ethos of the Inn at Moonlight Beach:

“By 2030, I promise a world where people are empowered to create communities and built environments that support their well-being and inspire them to flourish, savor their existence and contribute together in the world, such that they experience belonging to a global family.”

Sounds lofty, but it is happening. Staying clear on the grand design, this small boutique inn is still alive and WELL, and people are hungry for the knowledge of how to live with more hygge in their daily lives and the Inn is most happy to educate.

Looking at sustainability challenges internally first and expanding staff education and focused training are extra steps to maintain the ethos. Just like spirituality, there are “sustainability practices” at the Inn. For example, the employees commute no more than 20 minutes to the Inn, and they either walk or bike to work.

There are checklists for the innkeeper, housekeeper and maintenance crew. When arriving at the property for the day, one such practice is lighting copal incense and smudging every corner of the rooms and property, setting the space’s intention with the vibration of love.

They are instructed to take a deep breath to be present in the moment and with themselves before beginning the day’s tasks, to contemplate and look for the beauty in the present moment. Their role is actually Sacred Space Keeper.

The Inn is a transit-oriented redevelopment project, and they support other downtown businesses and bring people to the area with generous cross-marketing and collaboration efforts.

Dubbed a “Conscious Destination,” the Inn at Moonlight Beach continues to educate and empower people through their sustainable offerings of biodynamic farm workshops, wellness lab workshops, and uplifting people’s spirits by teaching their guests how to better care for themselves and the earth by example.

In this way, they may begin to implement these practices at home. These extra steps, along with meticulously educating the staff on sustainability routines and rituals at weekly meetings, ensure everyone is aligned with the best practices to stay on-brand and be inspired to continue bringing that spirit to the guests and anyone walking onto the property.

Continuing to connect to the community, a farm stand has been erected on Sundays. People can learn about seasonal plants, composting, pollinator and edible plants, and planting techniques or buy starter plants for their own wellness gardens at home.

Candle- and soap-making workshops, culinary and medicinal herbal infused honey, and olive oil tastings are offered to guests and by appointment to the general public. All things experienced in the carefully curated room experience are provided to the guests to expand the awareness of wellness that then spreads out into the world.

Until recently, people have equated luxury with five-star resorts, but there is a lot of waste, plastic and packaging to make things look pretty. I’m happy to report that the “trend” of sustainability is not a trend at all.

Sustainability is changing the definition of luxury as the world takes notice of ethics over exploitation modeled quite eloquently at the Inn at Moonlight Beach.