DESERT DESIGN: How a western-movie-set destination increased hotel occupancy
Pioneertown is a deliciously off-the-beaten-track destination unlike any other. A place to relax, unplug and be fully present. With a rich Hollywood history and a storied musical timeline, Pioneertown offers a guest experience that is uniquely its own. Surrounded by protected lands and rare Californian flat top mesas, the Pioneertown Motel is the perfect jumping off point for your ultimate desert adventure.
The Pioneertown Motel was built for some of the biggest movie stars of the 1940's and relatively new owners and brothers Michael and Matt French have restored it with this focus in mind. Since acquiring the property in 2014 they have spent the past three years dreaming, designing and restoring the eclectic motel as a labour of love.
Most motels only see their business as a real estate investment and don’t take a chance at creating something unique, that stands out amongst any competition. However, for these brothers, the gamble to create a property from a design focus has really paid off as they have captured the motel’s unique sensibility and character splendidly.
No Vacancy recently spoke to Michael and Matt about their creative approach towards the motel and how it delivers a unique guest experience in the heart of the desert.
"We like to think of ourselves as stewards for this place. The brand, idea, history and story already existed when we came into ownership. We simply had to strip it down to its bare bones and intended use to create the vibe and experience that exists today.
For us the idea and experiences have evolved since buying the property. The story has always based itself on the rich history of the place, however, we felt there was an opportunity to tell the world about it with a unique design perspective. The motel had become a little ‘kitschy’ over the years, so we began by de-cluttering and starting with a clean slate. We then had everything built by local craftsmen and local artisans – the bed frames, side tables and even all the steel work throughout the property."
"We realised our brand proposition would come from the Pioneertown's best selling feature - it's rich history. By taking the past and bringing this back to life we are able to share the story authentically with our guests. Combining this with contemporary design and luxurious features we are able to give our guests a better experience in the desert."
"We have always loved hotels and in particular, boutique hotels. Having travelled extensively our interest has always been in intimate experiences, and engaging with the great outdoors.”
We asked Matt and Michael if their approach has been successful, and what tips they recommend for other small accommodation businesses. They told us: “Twenty room motels aren't for people trying to make a bunch of money. Instead they are for people who are passionate and are in love with every little detail of the place. This is extremely important to us, and guests recognise that. You also have to be flexible. People expect a more intimate and personal experience at places like this. Recognising there's a difference between hospitality and service is vital in your success. Often it's the little things that make the difference - the small design elements in the rooms and choosing to make things instead of buying them will help you to stand out. Guests notice these details."
"Right now people are looking for a more authentic connection with the environment in which they stay. We're in love with Pioneertown and want to continue doing things that have been working for us. Our immediate plan is to continue to evolve as a brand. We are looking at creating new spaces and hosting some exciting events in the near future. It's not necessarily a project that has a start and end date. Instead, it's something that will be part of what we're doing for a very long time.”
Find out how your accommodation business can increase guest bookings, revenue and efficiency with a creative approach.
Watch the short video of our visit to Pioneertown Motel below.