The Schitts Creeking of Americas Highways
The Schitts Creeking of America’s Highways. I am sure there are small charming places all over the world that are getting facelifts and resurgences thanks to the charming show Schitts Creek(watch it if you have not seen it yet) but as the great American road trip and wandering grow, so does the motel resurgence.
In my last post, I spoke about the nightmare Airbnb has turned into. I am here to describe one of the more charming things we discovered last summer. That is the cool thing happening in the motel world. The comeback of sorts of the roadside motel is in part due to Schitts Creek and probably also Covid19.
Factors in the motel’s resurgence
Travel did not stop during Covid, but it did change, and some of those changes are directly in line with what was happening at the time. Americans were not flying. We were driving. Many of us stayed close to home for the most part. The big corporate hotel chains had to scale back on staff, and some even closed their doors for extended periods. I traveled to New Orleans and stayed in a 17-story hotel that, in pre-covid times, I would have never entered, but in New Orleans, at that time, it was one of the only games in town. I spent one long 24-hour period not seeing another human being. That’s a very weird feeling when you are in a place where normally thousands would be staying.
At the same time, big hotels turned into ghost towns. Small independent motels found the PPP money useful in renovating enough to keep folks interested in their small motels. With the help of Schitts Creek, making them cool and trendy, we started staying in them again, and others started opening them again.
When a Karen Visits
We found in our travels last year that the owners of the motels went out of their way to explain what a small roadside motel was. Smaller rooms, rustic wood paneling, small bathrooms, and sometimes tin shower stalls. No kitchens or refrigerators. Unless you get a kitchenette. These are general but not set rules for motels, but they are the things a Karen complains about… a lot, as we learned from talking with some of the awesome folks that run or own the motels we stayed at.
Both my mom and I found it odd that the folks we spoke to on the phone went so far out of their way to explain what a motel was and how it differed from a hotel. Once we dived into online reviews, it became evident that some folks don’t get the charm of a road trip or a roadside motel. That’s too bad because they are missing out on some awesome places to stay and a cool way to meet new people and learn about the fun places to eat and drink locally that frequently you don’t get from the big hotels or in big cities.
What constitutes a Motel
This is my definition, I’m sure someone has a respectable official definition, but this is mine. A drive-up establishment where You park your car in front of your room. There is an office with an attendant or a bell you ring for service. In a pre-covid world, you would have been able to stop on the spur of the moment. Many motels you now reserve as they don’t have full-time desk help or the front desk leaves early evening. There are often Vacancy or No Vacancy signs located by the road. They are usually single stories tall, with a few being two stories if there is a view. There may be a vending machine and or ice machine outside. Feel free to add what constitutes a motel for you in the comments. But I think have provided a visual; if not, I will remind you to look at Schitts Creek.
The Great Lakes
I got my love of road-tripping from my parents, and we have stayed in many a motel while we traveled the highways of these here united states. There is something very yin and yang about the Great Lakes and Motels. They go together like Dolly Parton and Kenny Rodgers.
When I was a kid, an escape to the Northshore of Lake Superior and a night in a motel were so fun and exciting. It is where my love of both the road trip and the roadside motel stems from
In my opinion, it is the best way to travel the great lake states, and the motels were some of our favorite stops on our road trip around Lake Huron
I will tell you, I wish it was anywhere but where it was. But it won the favor because the woman running it was an outstanding hospitable human being and made everything better. The sunrise was breathtaking, and it had a haunted put put course next to it that we were told about! Sadly I did not see a single ghost.
The winning motel is Bayview Motel in St. Ignace, MI. It is small, it has tin showers. It has a microwave and a TV, they have heat that works, and they have a view of the lake, which is amazing! BBQ grills if you don’t want to eat tourist food. A firepit where they have nightly fires burning. A beach area that you can swim from if you want to. And again, a stunning sunrise. The downfall is it is in this particular tourist town. But it is everything you want a motel to be and then some.
I will catch heat for what I am about to say, but Mackinaw Island is overrated. As much as I enjoyed this motel, I do not understand the fascination with the overpriced ferry ride to an island with overpriced fudge and taffy. As always, I will explore this topic of popular tourist destinations I hate in a future post. Until then, let me know what you love about Mackinaw Island. Maybe you will convince me to return to the Bayview Motel again.
Schitts Creeking of our Highways and what I think it means.
Despite my favorite motel experience last summer being in a town I don’t like, I have to say the schitts creeking of our highways is an exciting development. In all my travels over the last year, I have stayed at several reasonably priced motels with varying degrees of success.
I am excited to see more affordable options. I love that a new group of managers and people who have hospitality in their bones are deciding to do renovations and upgrades to a uniquely American way of travel. The road trip is alive and well, and with many of us suffering from wanderlust, let’s hope that we see even more of this something old is new again mentality.