The first thing you notice when you enter the lobby of the Sunseeker is a blue-and-white ceramic thong by the South Australian artist Gerry Wedd. In its fusion of high design and the relaxed Australian lifestyle, the flip-flop embodies the unique appeal of the new Byron Bay accommodation – in one of its oldest motels.
Following six months of renovations (and 40-odd years of history), the ’80s brick motel has been meticulously reimagined as a nostalgic take on the simplicity of summer holidays.
From the swaying palm trees beside its pebblecrete kidney-shaped pool to the communal fire pit, hibachi grill and Tiki-meets-brutalist bar, a distinctly mid-century California vibe now pervades the property – all designed to recall endless summers.
“The vision was to hark back to those family holidays when you ran around with all the other kids and felt an enormous sense of freedom,” says the Sunseeker co-owner Jess Frid. “Those memories of riding a bike, swimming at the beach and playing croquet in the garden really stick with you as an adult, and come back to you when you have kids of your own.”
Frid (whose kids are aged six and four) and her husband Dave Frid took a distinctly family friendly approach to refurbishing the motel. “The kids can run from bungalow to bungalow and mess around in the adventure playground while the parents have a drink at the bar,” she says.
That bar features a drinks menu by local mixologist Pete Windrim (from Byron’s Supernatural and a playlist curated by the team at Playlister.fm, which also created the tunes for iconic Los Angeles properties including the Chateau Marmont and the Standard Hotel.
“There’s definitely a retro Cali vibe,” says Frid. “We’ve travelled a lot and we had a desire to create a place that took the best things from the places we love and put them together in a way we thought hadn’t been done before.”
Art in the rooms includes handmade ceramic sun faces by Amy Lee Worthy, fabric wall hangings by Sarah Harvey and framed poster art by Lila Theodoros of graphic design studio Muse Muse. “There are so many creatives living and working in Bryon now, so we wanted to showcase their work,” she says.
Kitchen benches by Five Mile Radius are made from excess concrete from construction sites that would otherwise go to landfill and, this being Byron, are embedded with a range of crystals. The recycle/reuse philosophy extends to the paving in the hotel lobby, which was created from the original ’80s slate tiles salvaged from the hotel rooms. They each have a private patio or balcony overlooking the lush tropical gardens and pool.
There’s an on-site coffee cart selling brews, pastries and savoury baguettes, and a cosy library filled with more than 100 art and design books and magazines. And as it’s a motel you’ll still find ice machines in the hallway and a communal laundry to wash your smalls before you check out.
“We’ve tried to honour the bones and the history of the motel, while filling it with all our favourite things,” says Frid. “We are going to continue adding, as want to keep improving the guest experience.”