STEP INSIDE THE SUSTAINABLE AND RETRO-INSPIRED MYSA MOTEL
When the Gold Coast Highway reaches the suburb of Palm Beach, it becomes a very straight road littered with traffic lights and holiday goers. As you drive, flashes of the blue Pacific Ocean emerge between clusters of modern building developments and stylish restaurants.
Not too long ago, that same ocean would peer through a bevy of classic Australian motels and quintessential surf shacks. But a project that aims to connect the best of old and new world charms is the Mysa Motel.
Mysa is pronounced ‘mee-sa’ and means ‘cosy’ in Swedish, a sentiment that husband and wife owners, Jason and Eliza Raine, have injected into the retro-fit accommodation. The site used to be the Palm Trees Motel, an aged building that embodied the nostalgic holiday joy of the ’80s.
The pair wanted to capture that feeling and express it in a new way, with careful consideration for sustainability. Over two years, they worked tirelessly to enact the revamp with their extensive research. Most of the materials in the build was either upcycled or second-hand, to help reduce the environmental impact.
Today, the Mysa Hotel is a nod to the jubilance of its original form and an embrace of modern comforts. The solar-powered block features seven rooms, a magnesium pool, rainwater tanks and much, much more.
We were fortunate enough to visit the unique holiday icon and talk with the dynamic duo behind the whimsical Mysa Hotel.
Q1. WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO RENOVATE THIS MOTEL?
The Mysa Motel was formerly known as the Palm Trees Motel, which throughout the course of its vibrant lifetime, became an iconic part of the Gold Coast’s architectural history. Rather than demolish this rich slice of history and build something brand new, we wanted to preserve its essence as much as possible.
The existing building was tired, rundown and in need of a revamp, so we had to rebuild most of it, aside from the exterior structure. What we ended up with was a modernised version of the motel with seven renovated rooms with added courtyards, a revitalised pool area, and a new carport that also serves as an outdoor function area.
The original roof needed replacing, which enabled us to increase ceiling height in the rooms. To capitalise on this extra space and allow maximum natural light, we expanded all windows and doorways. We also converted the old manager’s living quarters into a two-bedroom suite with a kitchen, and spacious living and dining room area, which provides short-stay guests with a comfortable option.
Our mission was to renovate with as minimal impact as possible, so we upcycled a lot of materials, including the original exposed hardwood ceiling trusses, which we repurposed for the carport and function area. For further sustainability credence, we also added solar panels to power the entire motel and water tanks to service the gardens and bathrooms.
Q2. WHERE DOES YOUR STYLE INSPIRATION COME FROM?
The style of Mysa can be summarised as “a modern twist on retro Gold Coast”, and that’s the exact style we envisioned when we bought the property. Our inspiration was a combination of features we discovered and liked during our own travels, online cues, and the original motel’s 1960’s vibe – in fact, we based the aesthetic on the existing façade and footprint of the building.
We conducted our own market research by staying at various venues around the world and noting elements we liked, such as keyless entry via keypad and self-check-in without reception – as well as things we didn’t like. We also sought landscaping inspiration by visiting places like Cactus Country in Victoria and Cobaki Tree Co.
Comfort and quality are two important factors we consider when we travel, so it was a priority for us to provide the same service for our guests. We conducted extensive research on appliances – such as silent fridges – and even attended a bed showing, and while we were at it, discovered the only beds approved by the National Asthma Council of Australia. We also worked with onsite trades to discover the best options for solar and rainwater tanks and the longevity and quality of materials.
We read lots of books about sustainable travel and design and devoured Motel by Tim Ross. This book galvanised our desire to create a retro feel and guided us in the creation of our neon sign and logo.
Q3. EACH ROOM SEEMS TO TELL A DIFFERENT STORY. HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE SCHEMES?
We wanted each room to tell a unique story and offer a unique experience. To achieve that, we worked with local photographer Trent Mitchell to adorn the walls with shots of iconic Gold Coast sites, buildings and landscapes – all of which have a suitably retro vibe.
Five of our seven rooms have a signature door colour and uniquely matching interior décor and are named according to the exact shade of paint we used. For example, ‘Bronte Pink’ is our aptly-named pastel pink room. We then selected tiles and furnishings to match to create a holistic look and feel.
In terms of size and layout, a couple of the standard rooms are the same. During the build, some rooms absorbed other areas from within the existing property, including the old reception area and storage space, to allow for a better overall layout.
Our largest room, The Merillo, was converted from the onsite manager’s quarters into a self-contained two-bedroom apartment. It’s our only double story offering, and it features ensuites with showers, a kitchenette, washer/dryer, comfortable queen beds, and a private courtyard with BBQ and dining area.
We were really conscious of reducing our carbon footprint throughout the build, so we opted for end-of-line or discontinued stock over brand new alternatives, and where possible, we upcycled pieces from the original property and recycled materials from various buildings across the Gold Coast.
Q4. WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST PART OF THE MYSA MOTEL?
Everyone loves to have their ego stroked, and we’re no different. We love receiving feedback from guests who have had a great experience – it’s why we bought the motel in the first place!
In addition to the motel’s unique style, feedback to date has celebrated our amazing location, which places guests at the epicentre of all that Palm Beach has to offer, including the beach, shops, restaurants and bars. We’re proud to be a launchpad for guests to explore our beautiful little pocket of the world.
Another pinch-me moment for us was the completion of our magnesium pool. We kept the quirky kidney shape of the original pool and gave it a facelift, complete with health-promoting magnesium minerals. You cannot imagine how relaxing our first swim was when we finally laid down our tools after two years of hands-on renovating – we felt the toxins and stress melting away, and we slept magically that night!
Q5. WHAT ROLE DID ABI PRODUCTS PLAY IN THE RENOVATION PROCESS?
We chose ABI for quality, uniqueness and because they matched our vision. All of the products we chose were matte black in all rooms, which tied in with the palette we’d decided on for trimmings such as roof, window frames and door handles.
We wanted durable and comfortable products, so the Imes Cabinetry Pull suited, and we wanted a retro look, which the Cross Assembly Taps offered. The Elysian Basin Mixer Extended was a must-have because it has a higher spout to allow guests to comfortably refill their bottles with filtered water. For a softer, more modern touch, we opted for the Otto Robe Hook for guests to hang their towels instead of a rail.
Q6. HOW DO YOU WANT GUESTS TO FEEL AT THE END OF THEIR STAY?
Ultimately, we want our guests to leave feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. We want them to have had such a unique, memorable experience that they recommend us to their family and friends and that they’re excited to come back and stay with us again – maybe in a different coloured room next time!
WANT TO RECREATE THE MYSA MOTEL LOOK IN YOUR PROJECT?
If you need help designing a retro home or are interested in learning more about our matte black fixtures, our friendly team are always here to help. Their extensive knowledge of styles and ABI products make them well equipped for any query!