Thursday, December 8, 2011

Motels - Back to the Future

Pride of place in my vast collection of motel memorabilia is a classic "Motels" guide published by Jasons in 1980.

The Motel Association featured prominently in the leading pages of the guide, with two-pages devoted to introducing the NZ motel "apartment" concept to the world.

It is interesting that over 30 years ago, the Motel Association (with its groovy retro-Kiwiana logo) was at pains to differentiate New Zealand's unique motel product from the negative connotations that were perceived to be harbored by overseas visitors.

The New Zealand motel industry has always offered a quality product that is unique by world standards, however New Zealand moteliers have always been self conscious that the world may associate Kiwi Motels with their less savory overseas cousins. There has always been an underlying fear that motels may be perceived by our overseas guests as establishments of ill repute that were suitable backdrops for tacky American B-grade movies.

This oversensitivity is one of the reasons why the motel industry started to insert the more fashionable and friendly phrase "Apartment" into its vernacular.

Back in 1980, the motel "apartment" offer was described as self-contained with full kitchens "fully carpeted with easy chairs, settee, coffee tables, TV and tasteful furnishings." (Motel guest rooms without kitchen facilities were referred to as "Serviced Motel Units").

It is interesting that Qualmark recently announced that the motel sector will now be differentiated and known as "Motel." The ill-fated and clunky all-encompassing Serviced and Self Contained sector name that described a collection of accommodation types has finally been put-down.

The motel sector's long time flirtation of possibly including "Apartment" in their sector name has now been officially snuffed-out with the emergence of the new Apartment sector that has yet to be fully defined.

The drafting process of defining what accommodation businesses will be domiciled as either a Motel or Apartment is yet to commence and will inevitably prove to be contentious.

Unfortunately motel properties that added "Apartment" to their business name will be included in the Motel sector and many motel rooms will continue to be described as motel apartments for some time yet.

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