The reimagined Motel Caloundra is aiming to be the Sunshine Coast’s first net-zero energy hotel and has made a start on the sustainability front by recycling the existing structure of a 1970s motel. The goal is to be able to operate the motel via a solar and battery system, making it entirely powered by renewable energy sources.
“We haven’t been able to identify any other hotels aiming to do this at this point,” says Scott Armstrong, Managing Director of Maeva Hospitality, who, along with Andrew and Lucy Pink, redeveloped the property.
“Many are supplementing their energy requirements via renewable sources, but no major hotel has been able to claim full self-sufficiency in terms of energy use.”
Motel Caloundra opened in October and is situated opposite The Events Centre. It’s home to nine rooms, standard and superior, with the latter featuring private outdoor balconies and dedicated car spots. A family suite and apartment are also offered, both with two bedrooms, living areas, balconies and car spots. The apartment has a full kitchen.
Armstrong says he chose the site as his next project due to its central location in Caloundra and the proposed redevelopment happening around it, including a $33m art gallery. Caloundra, he says, has a reputation as being the arts and events hub of the Sunshine Coast.
“It wasn’t really a ‘refurb’, more of a complete reimagination,” says Armstrong. “The transformation itself took four months of intensive building. We stripped the building back to its original core and rebuilt it as new. The ‘70s building had a concrete shell and came with all the typical construction issues from that decade.”
Being able to start with an almost blank canvas meant the team could introduce state-of-the-art design and maximise the available space. That included adding the private balconies and creating the apartment and family suite.
Forty-seven solar panels producing 19.50kw of power during the day were also added to the structure. Batteries will produce a further 23kw of power in the evening.
“Scott and I have gone out of our way to make the hotel a model of sustainability, given the Sunshine Coast’s commitment to sustainability and its UNESCO biosphere status,” says Andrew Pink.
Armstrong describes the interiors as boutique, modern contemporary with features the Pinks achieved in other motel conversions they’ve done. The goal was to reflect the beachside atmosphere, as well as to offer accommodation suitable for corporate and conference travellers.
“You certainly know you are on the Sunshine Coast when you stay at Motel Caloundra,” says Armstrong.
He suggests guests take a rented Oggy Scooter ride down to Caloundra Jet Ski after checking in. There, you’ll experience the beauty of the Pumicestone Passage from the water. Then, enjoy a swim at nearby Kings Beach or take the scenic coastal walk for some spectacular views.
“Then head back to the motel to freshen up before visiting one of the local bars like the Parklands Tavern or Baringa Tavern where you can also enjoy a delicious dinner,” says Armstrong. “An early morning swim at any of the nearby beaches followed by a leisurely breakfast at White Picket Fence is the perfect start to your next day.”
If you’re staying over the weekend, he recommends you visit Caloundra’s Sunday Market, which he says is one of the best on the Sunshine Coast. You’ll find music, colourful characters, art, items you can buy and food. There’s also an eclectic art mural trail that’s another way to explore Caloundra, Armstrong says.