RETRO LOOK: Cubana Motel manager Jean-Pierre Froget said customers loved the retro vibe of the renovated motel on River Street in Ballina.
RETRO LOOK: Cubana Motel manager Jean-Pierre Froget said customers loved the retro vibe of the renovated motel on River Street in Ballina.

New-look motel brings the colours of Havana to North Coast

WITH a splash of colour, the new owners of an established Ballina motel have brought a 1960s retro look to town.

The Cubana Motel in River St opened on December 22 after a three-month renovation at the established motel site.

The motel is part of the Cubana Group, which also owns motels in Yamba and Nambucca Heads.

Two Sydney couples — Tracy McKinley and Aaron Rowe, along with Jane and Gareth Mozley — are behind the Cubana Group.

Ms McKinley said both couples, who are friends, were independently thinking about buying into the accommodation market, and joined together after a social chat.

She said the Cubana Group aimed to take the “beige” out of motels.

Inspired by the road-trip holidays of their youth, Ms McKinley and Mr Rowe hit the road with their children a year or so ago.

But Ms McKinley said the accommodation options they found on the way just didn’t have the “fun” they were looking for.

The 26-room Ballina site is the first to be renovated in the retro style, aligning with the group’s motto “Live in colour”.

Ms McKinley said it was an obvious transition to bring the colours inspired by Havana in Cuba and the retro look to the motel as the current name Cubana is a return to the motel’s original name when it was built in the 1960s.

The door of each room is painted a different colour, blending from one to the next door, and that theme extends to the decor inside and the prints on the walls.

“This place will continue to surprise you from the moment you enter the driveway,” wrote one reviewer.

The wire furniture and folding chairs around the pool and communal barbecue area continue the Havana look.

Manager Jean-Pierre Froget, said the renovations created so much interest in Ballina that a local man, who only lives a few blocks away, booked a room for a few days over Christmas for himself and his family.

One talking point for the revamped motel is the 1960s-style caravan parked out the front.

Mr Froget said in the coming weeks the caravan will be open to the public for coffee in the morning from 6am.

“We want the public to come and enjoy the place,” he said.

Mr Froget said there were deals available for local people who want to take in the retro look.

And as a sweetener to that deal, all guests receive a natural majito (it’s alcohol-free).


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