You don’t have to leave Austin to find a refreshing, state-of-the- art oasis. You can simply go down to 110 The Circle in SoCo, walk up the steps of the wonderfully modern building located there and enter Kimber Cavendish’s cool-as-a-cucumber B&B, Kimber Modern.
With the help of architect Burton Baldridge, Cavendish has created a haven of serenity that’s cozy and beautiful-a serious challenge when your basic starting point was a small residential lot on a street one block east of South Congress, and whose view overlooked the lack luster backs of retail buildings.
Cavendish’s descriptive motto for the B&B is “luxurious self-service.” “Luxurious” because of its sleek design, custom made furniture, porcelain-tiled floors, velvet curtains, sumptuous bathrobes and linens, organic bathing products, and optimal soundproofing, where even the heat and air conditioning systems are silent. “Self-service” because in an immaculate, Zen-like common area, guests can help themselves to a healthy, delicious breakfast provided by Di Lux Catering, or meet for Happy Hour Treats according to their schedule, not the staff’s. “Our aim is to provide our guests with total convenience and autonomy,” says Kimber. “We cater to their needs beforehand so that once they arrive, they don’t need us. Everything we’ve done, or will do, is done with our guests in mind, right down to the last detail.”
Cavendish has never been your ordinary girl-next-door, and talking with her is like reading a book in which each chapter has a different author. The seed for becoming a hotel owner was probably planted while growing up in Reno, Nev., where her father owned hotels and casinos. “I never really worked in them, but I was influenced by the environment,” she says. “I was a tomboy and spent my time hopping around on roof tops and climbing trees, but my goal was to become a professional dancer and find a way to move to Paris.”
As part of her plan to get to Paris, Cavendish danced at the Moulin Rouge in Las Vegas until, at age 21, she talked the choreographers into sending her to dance at their club in France. “Once I got there, it only lasted a few months. I could see how much they were exploiting the dancers, and I was always mouthing off and defending myself,” she says. “So I quit and went to cooking school for a few months.” After going from 118 lbs. to 150, and realizing that she was not living her Paris dream, she packed up and headed for a stint with Club Med that took her to Morocco, Paradise Island and Tahiti. Four years later, the globetrotting ex-dancer figured it was time to stop partying and do something serious with her life. So off she went to become a physical therapist in Portland, Ore.
From the very beginning, Cavendish had a clear idea of what she wanted to accomplish as a physical therapist: It was to bridge the gap between rehabilitation and fitness.
On a whim, she came to Austin for a visit, because her ex-partner told her it was a fun place to live, and plus, the weather was much nicer than in Portland. Three months later, Cavendish packed her bags, again, and moved to Austin. Before she’d unpacked them, she met her present partner, Vicki Faust, and four months later, they closed on the first house they bought together. “That was 16 years ago,” says Cavendish. “When you know deep down what’s right for you, you know.”
Obviously both Cavendish and Faust knew what was right for them, because together they created a clinic at the Hills Fitness Center on Bee Caves Road, where five physical therapists worked with them, and today, their family includes their 11-year-old daughter, Kenna Faust Cavendish. Through a decision based on total love, trust and support, Cavendish’s younger brother became the sperm donor, and Vicki carried their child.
“It’s amazing how the birth of a child changes your priorities overnight,” says Cavendish. “Your partner remains important, but the child is almost always your first priority. A lot of our lives revolve around Kenna and her activities. It’s a big responsibility, but it’s very rewarding.”
With Kenna’s birth, the partners sold the clinic on Bee Caves, and Cavendish practiced out of their home until the B&B opened last October. “Making the decision to stop treating my breast cancer patients to open Kimber Modern was very difficult,” she says. “I love my physical therapy work, the bonding, the community and the healing.” “I took a sabbatical to be totally available for the B&B, but the good thing about owning my own practice and working out of my home is that I can always return to it.”
The three-year project of creating and opening Kimber Modern has been a labor of love for both partners. “I got to do the fun part, because I deal with the details,” says Cavendish. “Vicki’s a tax consultant, and she took care of the overall picture – money, budgets, builders and schedules, that sort of thing.” Complicity like this is just one more reason why the partners are what some call a “match made in heaven.”
Besides sharing many of the things that Austin has to offer – musical theater, biking, cooking and seeing friends – Cavendish and Faust both love traveling and have plans for a biking trip through the wine country in France. And who knows, if their ace of a daughter, Kenna, decides she wants an artistic career of dancing or singing in the big city lights of New York, Cavendish says she’s ready. “I’ll move in a minute.”
Cavendish’s taken off her globe-trotting shoes, but it’s clear that she hasn’t packed them away. “I’d love to live in Europe again,” she says. “Maybe after Keena has grown up, Vicki and I can move over there. I regret so much that I didn’t stick to it and stay longer the first time I went to Paris. It was difficult to be alone and grow up all of a sudden, but it was the best experience I could have had.”
In the meantime, there’s still plenty to do in Austin, and Cavendish already has another project floating around in her plans: “I’d love to open another hotel. Once we get this one on it’s legs, learn what we should have done, or could do better, I can see creating another one, just a little bigger, but with the same basic principals of urban traveler and luxurious self service. Yeah, I like that idea,” she says.