Cambria hotel White Water open after remodel, Vogue features

Talk about opening with a big splash. The newly remodeled White Water hotel in Cambria recently got a shoutout from Vogue magazine.

There had been months of local curiosity and online speculation about the extensive, expensive and lengthy remodel of White Water and the neighboring 9Iron Inn, which is now part of White Water, on Moonstone Beach Drive. The makeover included a dramatically changed, starkly dark exterior.

But despite numerous inquiries from communities members and The Cambrian starting in March, Santa Monica-based property owner PRG Hospitality Group held its informational cards close to the chest until recently.

The hotel’s opening was delayed several times. It had originally been slated for early spring, then early summer, then the end of July, according to online posts and emails from Kevan Beall, Central Coast regional director of PRG Hospitality Group.

Rooms at White Water have been available since September, PRG spokewoman Raluca Slate said, but the lobby redo wasn’t finished until October, so that was considered the official grand opening month.

White Water’s renovation caught the attention of Vogue writer Ella Riley-Adams.

“Located just off Cambria’s Moonstone Beach (the place names alone have a transportative effect), the 25-room property’s creative direction has been defined by Nina Freudenberger, an interior designer known for her private home work and curation of effortlessly cool spaces in the books ‘Surf Shack’ and ‘Bibliostyle,’ ” Riley-Adams wrote in her Nov. 10 article.

The inn’s refreshed rooms and common spaces reflect the influence of Freudenberger, an award-winning designer who wanted the lodgings to have a “Danish seaside feel” that reflected “the textures that set Cambria apart from its beach brethren further south.”

As Freudenberger drove north to Cambria from her home in Los Angeles, ”She was struck by how the landscape evolved along the way,” Riley-Adams wrote. “Rather than silky sand, the waves crash onto rocky tide pools.”

“It feels wild and exciting,” Freudenberger told Vogue.

The décor at White Water includes birch wood, canvas and vintage textiles, as well as fireplaces in each room and an outdoor soaking tub.

In addition to the hotel, Riley-Adams’ article touts such Cambria businesses as The Sea Chest Oyster Bar, Soto’s True Earth Market, Madeline’s restaurant. She also praises the gluten-free blue corn waffles at The Hidden Kitchen, which has locations in Cambria and Cayucos.

The Vogue article, which notes Cambria’s proximity to Paso Robles wine country, also mentions the Moonstone Beach boardwalk and the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, a 430-acre, community-owned oceanfront property with blufftop trails and a lush Monterey pine forest.

History and remodel of White Water hotel

According to former White Water co-owner Elaine Beckham, who lives now in Los Osos, the inn opened in 1988 with her parents, Cyril and Ivy Kilgannon, at the helm as management consultants and hosts. The Kilgannons had been hired by managing partners, developer and builders Rick Low and Tom Koon.

Beckham recalled that, after Cyril Kilgannon died in 1990, she and her husband Paul Beckham came to the area to help, she said, because “Mummy didn’t drive.”

After putting in some time at White Water and other area lodgings, the Beckhams bought into the White Water conglomerate as primary partners with Tom Wright and others. The partners sold it in September 2006, and the inn has had other owners between then and 2019, when PRG bought the property.

PRG purchased the 9Iron Inn in June 2009. That property has been merged with White Water, and PRG doesn’t use the 9Iron name or identity any more.

The remodeling of the adjacent inns began in January.

According to Slate, both lodgings were remodeled at the same time. The new owners “loved the architecture and location of both properties, and it was natural to combine them both and create one cohesive hotel,” she wrote.

For instance, Slate noted that the 9Iron Inn’s original architecture “adhered to feng shui.”

“We have a real sincere affinity for the Central Coast and Cambria, in particular, and think it’s one of the most exciting examples of California beach living with its charming community, authentic people, proximity to wine country, and irreplaceable surroundings,” David Dittmer, PRG co-founder and managing partner, said. “Our goal was to accentuate the existing architecture with relevant design and amenities.”

As of Nov. 12, prices for so-called “private rate” reservations booked directly on White Water’s website ranged from $174 to $464 a night for midweek dates to $364 to $650-plus per night for two-night weekends.

PRG Hospitality Group also owns Cambria Beach Lodge, also on Moonstone Beach Drive, and San Luis Creek Lodge in San Luis Obispo, as well as two lodgings in Palm Springs and one each in Laguna Beach, Hollywood and Indian Wells.

For details on White Water, go to

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Kathe Tanner has been writing about the people and places of SLO County’s North Coast since 1981, first as a columnist and then also as a reporter. Her career has included stints as a bakery owner, public relations director, radio host, trail guide and jewelry designer. She has been a resident of Cambria for more than four decades, and if it’s happening in town, Kathe knows about it.

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