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Motel Revival Taking Place in Seaside Village of Morro Bay, CA

02/09/2015

Motel owners in Morro Bay, CA have created a contagious spirit of lodging revival in this quaint fishing town located on the Central Coast of California along scenic Highway 1. A motor court building boom during the 50s and 60s in California created a boon in tourism in many cities like Morro Bay that offered vacationers access to expansive beaches, a busting harbor, boutique shops, restaurants, fresh seafood and abundant wildlife. Now, what was once passé and dated is now novel and boutique in Morro Bay as many of these classic properties receive smart renovations and are thriving in this California beach community. Classic Renewal In early 2014 local residents John and Joan Solu purchased the Pleasant Inn Motel with the intention of doing a full-scale renovation. The biggest attraction for Joan was the vintage sign that stands out front of the motel. It is original to the building dating to 1954 and has never been changed. She and her husband had already completed a successful renovation to the nearby motor court property Beach Bungalow Inn & Suites, and were familiar with the process. “These properties are not yet considered historic,” said Joan. “In Europe a property is not old until it reaches about 500 years. But in the states, and especially California, a building is old when it’s 50 years old and there is a rush to tear it down and build new. We didn’t want to do that.” The Solu’s did a massive renovation of the structure taking the walls down to the studs to bring it up to modern code. They put in insulation and soundproofing. The windows were replaced with dual pane energy efficient windows and drapes were removed and plantation shutters were installed. They replaced all the beds with American made mattresses and tore out the carpeting and put in hardwood. Specialty area rugs are used on the floors and of the furniture was replaced making each room unique, including all white bedding with a high thread count. Each room now has a flat screen TV, access for Wi-Fi, and microwaves. “We really couldn’t change the size of the bathrooms or we would have had to take out the kitchens.” The kitchens are the original Youngtown kitchens with the enamel cabinets and the built-in drain boards on the sinks. They are in amazingly good condition. “We felt the kitchens fit the era as do the bathrooms and it was important to us to stay true to the era of the times,” Joan said, allowing for their guests to decide on longer stays. Pleasant Inn Motel welcomes pets but keeps about 20% of the rooms available for people who may have pet allergies. All the rooms are no smoking but there are designated areas on the property where people may smoke and the property is ADA compliant. “Our idea for this property was for guests to pull up in their cars and see the classic motor court motel and be pleasantly surprised,” Joan said, “It’s so cute – it’s so California!” Pleasant Inn Motel 235 Harbor St Morro Bay, CA 805-772-8521 info@pleasantinnmotel.com www.pleasantinnmotel.com A Little Goes a Long Way The motel owners in Morro Bay agree that personal relationships with their guests are key to developing a repeat guest base and are part of the charm behind motor lodges. Colleen Aceto, former longtime manager of Best Western El Rancho located right on Highway 1 in Morro Bay agrees. “We always get some of the people driving down the highway,” she said, “but it’s our returning guests that make up most of our business.” This pet-friendly property lies on a large parcel of land in North Morro Bay, parallel to the Morro Strand Beach located just a few blocks away. The El Rancho Motel has a nice pool on a large grassy space in front of the property that has been recently reinvigorated with beautiful landscaping, a new patio with seating and umbrellas, a glider swing set and a propane grill available for guests to use. Best Western El Rancho Motel 2460 Main Street Morro Bay, CA 805-772-2212 www.book.bestwestern.com Committed to their Guests Amit Patel and his wife bought the Days Inn Motor Lodge on Main Street in 2010. “I came here from India in 2009,” Patel said, “and I went to Jackson, Mississippi and worked at a hotel there for a while and then moved to Louisiana. I didn’t want to live there and raise a family so I came finally to California.” Patel stayed in Pismo Beach working at a hotel for eight months before purchasing the Days Inn in Morro Bay. Right away he set out to make some changes. Painted with classic light blue beach colors with white trim and decorated with flying flags out front, the Days Inn has that classic Americana feel. Patel put microwave ovens in every room along with TVs, coffeemakers, ironing boards, hair dryers and more. He also just recently renovated the office updating the breakfast area and adding more tables and chairs to accommodate more guests. He also added a laundry room his guests could access. Patel’s main goal is to completely renovate all of the rooms. He is working on five rooms at a time and has completed 14 so far. Patel feels old bathrooms make the entire room look dated, so he is renovating them all and will maintain them every year. As he renovates each room he also adds insulation for soundproofing and he rooms have upgraded beds with deluxe quality sheets, duvets and several pillows. Days Inn 1095 Main Street Morro Bay, CA 805-772-2711 www.daysinn.com/hotels/california/morro-bay/days-inn-morro-bay/hotel-overview?hotel_id=10493&brand_code=DI A Family Affair A waterfront location in Morro Bay would seem like an ideal setting for a motel and apparently that is what Harold Biaggini thought when on an impulse he bought the land that the Embarcadero Inn sits on today. Biaggini passed away this past year at 90-years-old but his widow, Karen had been running the motel for some time along with other family members. She tells the humorous story of how Harold came to purchase the waterfront acreage. “You know,” she said smiling, “Harold liked to take a drink now and then and one day he was in San Luis Obispo doing just that when he saw two people he knew from Morro Bay walking down the street. He asked them what they were doing and they told him they had this waterfront property and they were going to a real estate agent to list it for sale. He asked where on the waterfront it was located and when receiving the answer he said, ‘I’ll buy it!’ He took them to an escrow office and then and there opened escrow. “ Biaggini hired architect Don West to build the 33 room property and son Ed took over running the place. All of the rooms except for two have a balcony and water view. That was a few years back, and they’ve now begun renovations of all the rooms replacing bedding with comforters and duvets, deluxe sheets, and new drapes. “We are removing wallpaper from the rooms and doing a textured type painting on the walls,” Karen said, “We’ve completed six rooms so far.” They also put on a new roof last year and all the rooms have flat screen TVs, microwaves, and refrigerators and offer free popcorn, DVDs, and a library of books. The Biagginis support many community events including the annual Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival. In fitting fashion, they named the breakfast suite on the third floor the Birdfeeder, where they offer a full breakfast, outside deck with seating, tables and binoculars, perfect for watching the sunset or spying that elusive life list bird. Embarcadero Inn 456 Embarcadero Blvd Morro Bay, CA 93442 805-772-2700 info@embarcaderoinn.com Creativity is Key Each property seems to have its own special niche and theme and none more so than Jayne Behman’s Bayfront Inn. Jayne Behman is a well-known local artist and has created each room to individual themes that are made evident by her paintings that hang on the walls. “Each room is different,” she said, “and there are accessories that fit the themes.” One room is the Audrey Hepburn room with a big poster of the star on the wall and there is a classic French style phone. Another has a phone shaped like big red lips. Bayfront Inn has 16 rooms on two floors and a raised deck out front where Behman has comfortable lounge chairs and small tables. “People can take their breakfast out there to enjoy,” she said. There is more outdoor seating between the deck and the motel rooms. Artistic objects created by Jayne are placed all around the outside spaces. When Behman took over the property she had to rebuild the stairways, put on a new roof, build the breakfast area, soundproof the walls, and rebuild and retile the showers. “I put new carpet in all the rooms,” she said, “and I shampoo them after each stay.” She also rewired the place for cable and put in 40-inch flat screen TVs, and Wi-Fi. “I put in new beds and bedding every year and a half,” she said, “I can’t enlarge the rooms or I would lose rooms, but Morro Bay is not a place where you spend a lot of time in the room.” “I am pet friendly,” she said, “ten rooms are available for pets. I’ve never had a pet that stole a towel or broke a cup. I love our pets.” She gives them a welcome basket with a blanket, toys, and a ball. Behman has come up with some of the most innovative promotions. Guests that come wearing a moo-moo can obtain a discount but they have to actually “moo” at the front desk. Then there is the ‘bring a rubber ducky and get $5 off” promotion. The latest is her “birthright” program – pay full price the first night and the next night is priced at whatever your birth year is. “Sometimes I give a discount to guests telling them it is just because we like Tina Turner,” Behman said, “Don’t take me seriously, I’m into fun!” Bayfront Inn 1150 Embarcadero Morro Bay, CA 805-772-5607 bayfrontinn@sbcglobal.net www.bayfront-inn.com For more details on where to stay in Morro Bay, please visit http://www.morrobay.org/. About Morro Bay This seaside fishing village with bustling waterfront offers a picture perfect getaway for travelers who seek food, wine and outdoor adventures found in a gorgeous natural setting. Located along coastal Highway 1 in San Luis Obispo County just south of Big Sur, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Morro Bay offers year round activities in an unspoiled slice of California. Recently named as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, outdoor activities are a way of life. From ocean-side golf, kayaking, sailing, hiking, fishing, surfing, biking, and bird watching, to kite flying, shopping, dining, wine bars, local craft brews and miles of unspoiled beaches, there is something for everyone. Sitting majestically between the beach and the harbor lays the iconic and historic landmark Morro Rock, welcoming travelers from miles away as they approach Morro Bay. Located just minutes from world-renowned Hearst Castle, historic missions, breathtaking Montana de Oro State Park, and surrounded by vineyards from Paso Robles to Edna Valley, Morro Bay is a destination designed to fit any style and budget for families, couples or groups. Morro Bay also offers a myriad of year-round events including food, wine and music festivals, art fairs and car shows unique to the town. For more travel information visit http://www.morrobay.org or follow Morro Bay on its Facebook, twitter or Pinterest pages.