Buying a motel touted as a lifestyle change


Cashing in on a lack of tourist beds is being encouraged as a way to make a buck in 2017.

Richard O’Brien, director of, a website showcasing businesses for sale, says owning a motel can make excellent lifestyle and economic sense, for those who enjoy meeting a diversity of people and taking pride in running a ship-shape venture.

He says tourism is soaring to record heights – and can only flourish when there’s ample quality accommodation.

“Motel bed nights have been rising substantially according to Statistics New Zealand, siting a 30 percent rise year on year in August, even before the lucrative summer season. Having a secure, convenient, clean and friendly place to stay, will make or break a visitor’s enjoyment of their trip to New Zealand – no matter how majestic the mountains or pristine the water views.

“Summer is the time for immediate financial benefits when owning a motel, with floods of visitors from Asia, those escaping Northern Hemisphere winters and New Zealanders exploring their country by car.”

Richard says the advantage of running a motel is that visitors generally remain independent so the owner/operators may choose to be as involved as they wish.

It’s not a complicated business model, mainly requiring passion for good service and to be a good organiser – or have assistance from those that do. It can create employment opportunities for friends and relatives. A new owner can usually improve or flavour the business with their style, providing extra features and upgrades – stamping it with that memorable x-factor.

He sees all types investing money and themselves into motels, hotels and tourist accommodation and says it can be a long-awaited life-style change – an alternative to retirement or an independent profitable change from working for someone else. Previous business experience is not mandatory. Having pride in offering a great service, attention to detail and patience will ensure success.

Owners can decide to take more of a management role or be completely hands on. This can alternate depending on your lifestyle choices. A well-organised operation will tick along in the absence of their owners. Despite perceptions and tales of hard work involved, taking a long holiday in the off-peak season is achievable – although the first year will likely involve all hands-on deck.

Richard says when it’s time to buy a motel, the process is largely straight forward; talk to brokers and those in the industry; search and inquire about several opportunities that meet your criteria and budget; check that the finances stack up over the past three years.

Research the market and what’s on offer. Reviews, such as Trip Advisor, will reveal past client satisfaction and forward bookings provide a snapshot of likely immediate income.

He says choosing the right location is the number one consideration – from the bustle and convenience of city life, to an enviable existence in a rural semi-tropical paradise.

It’s wise not to stress the budget, and initially leasing rather than owning the premises freehold may be smarter.

And always seek professional advice before you sign a contract.

Promoting and getting people through the door is vital, but there are many avenues, such as New Zealand accommodation websites, directories, associations and information centres to put you on the map – and of course the loud and far-reaching social media voice. The Motel Association of New Zealand also offers training, support and information.

Accommodation options are as varied as the landscapes. Motels, hotels, backpackers, holiday parks, and B&Bs each have specific benefits to suit a new owner’s individuality, budget and ambitions.


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