This Boutique Hotel Brand Is Bringing Motor Lodges Into the 21st Century — But Keeping the Nostalgic Vibes Intact

When Rob Blood, the founder of Lark Hotels, bought an old motel in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., he had a vision where road trippers could step back in time and enjoy a sense of nostalgia with the sophistication of a modern-day stay at the same time.

Cue the Spa City Motor Lodge — the first in what will eventually be a series of properties under the Bluebird by Lark brand aimed at capturing the spirit of road trips and a bygone era — that will open on June 4 with 42 guest rooms and suites all surrounding a shared indoor courtyard and coffee bar (where there used to be a pool), the company exclusively shared with Travel + Leisure.

"I've always loved vintage motels and early on during COVID I had this strong feeling of nostalgia for road trips from my childhood," Blood, the founder and president of Lark Hotels, told T+L. "The last year has really accentuated the idea that our lives happen in the moments in between destinations and so we want to provide the waypoints for travelers that are connecting moments in their lives. My love of vintage motels and appeal of hitting the open road inspired us to create this new brand centered around repositioned and redesigned roadside motels, surf shacks, and ski lodges."

Guest rooms, which start at $101, are designed as a nod to the 1950's style of vintage motor lodges with pops of color and geometric patterns. The hotel itself sits on Broadway, the main block running through Saratoga Springs, with breweries, restaurants, and even the area's famous racetrack all within walking distance.

Following Saratoga Springs, the company plans to open the Parker Beach Lodge in South Yarmouth, Mass., in July, and the Tälta Lodge in Stowe, Vt., in August. Next year, the company will open The Hunter, a modern ski lodge in the Catskills (one of T+L's 50 best places to travel in 2021).

"If people are anything like me they are starving for travel and for the opportunity to hit the road and see new places. The last year has been like being on a sensory diet and now all I want to do is indulge in the things that I've been deprived of for so long," Blood said. "Across our portfolio we're experiencing high levels of demand and I believe we'll see the same interest in these new offerings."

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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