Brothers’ surf motel dream nears realization

Brothers’ surf motel dream nears realization
Encinitas brothers Sander and Nikki Harth prepare to host an open house Saturday at their new Surfhouse Motel, the eight-room boutique motel in Leucadia. Photo by Aaron Burgin

ENCINITAS — Encinitas brothers Sander and Nikki Harth grew up watching their parents entertain their Norwegian relatives, who would vacation at their Encinitas Ranch home looking for a taste of the “California lifestyle.”

“All they would want to do was experience that lifestyle, eating burritos, hanging out at the beach, going to Padres games and things like that,” Nikki Harth said. “We were always sort of tour guides for our family and friends.”

Their experience as kids inspired Nikki and Sander to want to share that California lifestyle with perfect strangers in some capacity. Avid surfers and travelers, the brothers thought they would accomplish this by opening up a surf camp at a warm beach in Costa Rica.

That dream, however, changed in 2015 when the brothers purchased the former Leucadia Inn by the Sea at the corner of Coast Highway 101 and Jasper Street, and they changed their focus on bringing the California lifestyle and love of the surf culture to tourists visiting their beloved hometown.

On Saturday, the brothers’ dreams will become a reality with the unveiling of the Surfhouse Motel, the eight-room boutique motel that has arisen from the frame of the former tenant.  The open house runs from 2 to 5 p.m.

The Mission-white building with its hardwood exterior accents is a far cry from the rose-colored motel that stood in its place for years.

“It has been really amazing, everyone kind of remembers it being this pink eyesore on the corner that had very little charm, so to see it transform has been exciting,” Sander Harth said. “And just to see the amount of support from the community we have received has been very, very cool. It is getting there day by day, and once the stucco went on, and the building went from pink to white, it really brought it together.”

The brothers said they hope the niche hotel will be a welcome addition to a stretch in Leucadia that is already bustling with activity: it sits between the popular Surfy Surfy and Coffee Coffee businesses and the Regal Seagull to the north and Solterra Winery to the south.

“We think it’s an A+ location for Encinitas and Leucadia,” Sander said. “It is becoming a hot spot, people can hang around here and get immersed in the local lifestyle just hanging out on this block, so to be right next to it is the ultimate location for us. And you’re only a 3-minute walk from Beacon’s, you can’t get any closer to the beach (for a motel) in Encinitas.”

The brothers’ love of surf accentuates every facet of the motel.

Each of the eight rooms are named after famous surfing breaks: Grandview, Pipes, Swami’s and the brothers’ beloved Beacon’s Beach (or Beacon, depending on who you talk to) are all represented.

Beacon’s, fittingly, is the largest of the eight rooms.

Inside the room stands a finely polished table shaped like a surfboard, which will be the centerpiece of the room when it is completed. The Beacon’s room, Sander said, can double as a boardroom if a large group rents out the entire motel for a corporate retreat.

Additionally, several weeks out of the year rooms in the hotel will be blocked out for the guided surf camps that the brothers host. Previously under the name California Surf Adventures, the brothers rebranded the camp under the same name as the motel, Surfhouse Adventures.

“We are mainly marketing outside of the city, state and country and guide the experience of being a local Encinitas surfer,” said Nikki Harth, who stands 6-foot-7. “That means surfing in the morning, getting your breakfast at Coffee Coffee, going on a hike or hanging out at the beach the whole day.”

“Just doing living the life that sometimes we take for granted, but it’s the California lifestyle that people dream about,” Sander chimed in.

The brothers also said they wanted the hotel to be an extension of the community. It’s white exterior nearly matches nearby Surfy Surfy and Coffee Coffee, and its wood panels hearken the adjacent winery.

Each of the rooms will feature surf art from local artists, locally made surfboards and beach cruiser bicycles will be made available to the guests and Saturday’s open house will feature food from Fish 101 in Leucadia.

But the connection is deeper: the brothers said they want to encourage guests to get out and become part of the community, if only for a short time. The website includes links to local establishments for yoga, food, drinks, biking and other activities.

“We are not putting coffee machines in the room, because we want them to come and go to Surfy Surfy, and we’re not putting microwaves because we want them buy food fresh from local stores,” Sander said. “Our thought is by getting people more immersed in community they will want to stay longer.”

For more information on Surfhouse, visit


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