Australian motels make a revival

The great Australian motel was an integral part of the holiday experience during the 1960s, 70s and 80s. But due to low-budget hotel chains and changing tastes in holiday destinations, they faded off the scene. Now, retro motels are making a huge comeback and they are more loved than ever!

Here’s everything you need to know about the history and revival of the motel in Australia, and why a motel could be a great choice if you are looking for an accommodation business for sale.

Mid-century: The motel arrives on the scene

Motels began to arrive in Australia in the early 1950s and really boomed during the 60s and 70s. They were seen as futuristic, designed in Mid-Century and Googie architectural styles. They tended to be low-rise buildings constructed in geometric shapes with upswept roofs, featuring a lot of glass and steel. A car parking area would usually be located at the front of the building so guests could easily access their cars, a welcome facility in a changing society where car ownership was becoming more common.

Incidentally, the “mo” in the word “motel” comes from “motor vehicle”, representing the fact that motels catered to modern holidaymakers by providing car parking. This is an updated version of the “ho” in “hotel”, which originally explained that horses could be stabled on-site!

The simple, clean design of the motel and the modern facilities were seen as forward-looking, representing the future of holiday accommodation.

Where were the first motels in Australia?

It is impossible to be sure which was the first motel to open in Australia, as five different motels lay claim to this title! However, it is generally thought to have been the Lansdowne Bridge Motel on Hume Highway in Sydney, which opened its doors in 1949.

A number of other pioneering motels were established across Australia during the next few years, including the Mandura Motel, Western Australia, and the Bathurst Motel in NSW. The Mermaid Beach Motel in Brisbane opened in 1954, followed by the Belair Motel, Orange, in 1957.

Retro motels: why were they so loved?

Prior to the arrival of the motel, most Australian families had stayed in pubs for their holidays. Pub rooms at this time were pretty basic, with cramped conditions and few amenities. Bathrooms were shared with other guests.

Motels represented something completely different. In addition to on-site car parking, many motels had their own swimming pools for guests. Motel rooms were heated and included televisions and ensuite bathrooms as standard. The furniture was of extremely high quality in the latest designs.

Some motels also offered gimmicks such as bar fridges and coin-operated massage beds, attracting a more liberated, modern clientele.

This was before the days of budget hotels so it gave couples and families the opportunity to stay in comfort without paying extortionate prices.

Reinventing the motel for the modern era

Those of us who are nostalgic for the motels we stayed in as children now have the chance to experience them all over again! Motels for sale are being snapped up by creative accommodation business entrepreneurs all over Australia and reinvented for today’s travellers.

Many of these motels retain the original 1950s architecture, giving them an authentic feel. But step inside, and the amenities have been updated to suit 21st century clients. Rain showers, minimalist décor and Wi-Fi are regular features, bringing a touch of modern luxury to the much-loved motel concept.

More information about motels

Motels are a well-loved part of the Australian tourism industry and they are great businesses to run. Their revival offers plenty of potential for those interested in leading the latest trend in accommodation!

If you would like more information about motels for sale, please contact us here at Accommodation Business Brokers and we will be happy to help.

Chris Rowe & team

With a strong appreciation of what constitutes a successful accommodation business sale, I’m able to recommend a sale price for your business; whether its a hotel, motel, resort, backpackers, caravan park, or management rights , at optimal market value. During my time as a broker, I have sold in excess of 100 properties around New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory. On average, I can take a property from ‘Listed’ to ‘Sold’ within 30 days.

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