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Upcoming Surfrider Hotel hopes to fit into affordable niche

The building the will soon house the new Surfrider Hotel, pictured here, is currently under construction. Photos courtesy of Jones Builders Group
The original sign for the Surfrider Beach Club remains while the site undergoes construction.
Ashleigh Fryer, Senior Editor
11:57 am PDT June 23, 2015

By early 2016, a piece of Malibu history along Pacific Coast Highway will get a makeover. 

Property owners and Z/K Hospitality co-founders Alessandro Zampedri and Sanford Kunkel, armed with a team of local experts, are currently giving the old Surfrider Beach Club hotel across from Surfrider Beach a new look that Zampedri says “will bring this piece of Malibu history back to its heyday.”

Zampedri and Kunkel, who also own The Bowery House in New York City, purchased the PCH property in July 2014. Drawn to the history of the building — which was built in 1953 and has served as a motel or vacation rental site since its inception — the duo got to work seeking out a team of locals who understood the building’s roots and would be able to come up with a design that would attract both visitors and residents, Zampedri said. Malibu residents Doug Burdge, and Nathan Jones and David Charvet of Jones Builders Group, signed on as the architect and builders of the site, respectively.

“We wanted to build a team that had the highest knowledge and skill level  — having the dream team to design and build this property was important,” Zampedri said. “You have to know Malibu — you have to see it and live it. This isn’t something you just design. You have to put your heart into it.”

Burdge, who has designed numerous homes in Malibu and elsewhere, and who most recently designed the Trancas Country Market, said the building itself had to be gutted, but that the structure will remain similar, in some ways, to what has been there for decades. 

“We decided to go with a coastal modern look, with clean lines and vaulted ceilings — something that really speaks to the location, because what location is better than that?” He said. “We’re introducing woods and metal roofs. Malibu is really moving toward having a local, regional aesthetic, so we wanted to maintain the classic look.”

One of Burdge’s structural design changes involves moving the hotel’s entrance to the rear of the building to protect the privacy of the guests. 

“It doesn’t matter if it’s the Four Seasons in Hawaii or just a motel — privacy is paramount,” Burdge said. “Having the entrance in the rear allows us to give all the back rooms on both floors ocean front balconies.”

Due to the septic system moratorium imposed on the Civic Center area in 2010, Burdge said expansion of the 20-unit space is not possible. But he said the team has submitted applications for a rooftop deck and an outdoor entertaining space with jacuzzis on the property to add more appeal. And, for convenience, surfboard storage and outdoor showers will be provided for guests.

Although the Surfrider Hotel is Z/K Hospitality’s first property on the West Coast, Zampedri said it falls in line with his company’s theme — reviving locations with rich history and deep roots. The Bowery House, which is located in the Bowery section of Manhattan, is nestled on a strip of real estate that dates back to 1645. The building itself was built in 1927, back when the Bowery district was known for prostitution and gambling and housed soldiers returning from World War II in the 1940s.

Although the Surfrider’s history doesn’t stretch back as far as the Bowery’s, Zampedri said he appreciates the name recognition that comes with Surfrider Beach and its heritage of welcoming world class surfers. With the Adamson House just around the bend, Zampedri and Kunkel saw the property as treasure trove of history, he said. 

“We fell in love with the property and we fell in love with Malibu,” Zampedri said. “The opportunity to revive this piece of property in line with the Malibu culture is the motivation.”

In keeping with what they believe to be the Malibu culture, Zampedri, Kunkel, Burdge and the building team are aiming to create a destination that offers something not yet available in the small-but-growing hospitality sector in Malibu. With the 47-room Malibu Beach Inn just down the street, and the exclusive Nobu Ryokan hotel set to open in the coming months along Carbon Beach, Burdge believes the Surfrider will fill the niche that is geared toward families seeking comfort, affordability and convenience.

“Malibu has always been lacking in lodging,” Burdge said. “Typically, you think of hotels and motels being for visitors and tourists only. But, I think with this one, you’ll have residents sending their families there during the holidays. So, even in what we consider to be the off-season in Malibu, I think the Surfrider will be busy. People are looking for something modest and reasonable.”

For more information in the new Surfrider Hotel, visit