Koala Inns

MA - Koala Inn (2)

Stay with the Frugal Bear! That was the motto of a chain of motels located in the Northeast known as Koala Inns. Koala was another budget motel franchise that sought to entice budget-conscious travelers by providing luxury at a low price.

Hartford Courant, 23 Sep 1973, Sun, Page 223
Hartford Courant – September 23, 1973

The first Koala Inns location opened in Windsor Locks, Connecticut near Bradley International Airport on December 3, 1973. Soon other locations open in Schenectady, New York; Hartford, Connecticut and Braintree, Massachusetts. Montreal, Quebec and Syracuse, New York were planned to open but eventually fell through.

Hartford Courant, 23 Sep 1973, Sun, Page 216
Hartford Courant – September 23, 1973

The original goal of Koala Inns was to open a new location every six weeks but the parent company, International Motel Management Corporation backed away from that plan in the Summer of 1974. The group blamed high construction costs and mortgage interest rates for backing away.

Democrat and Chronicle, 27 Aug 1974, Tue, Metro, Page 44
Democrat and Chronicle – August 27, 1974

With expansions plans gone, the four Koala Inns continued to operate as a very small collective of motels. The locations did not seem to be in the safest of areas as I came across multiple stories about robberies, assaults, drug use and even the Windsor Locks night manager being abducted and beaten in June 1974.

The Windsor Locks location would be hit hard by a tornado that tore through the area on October 4, 1979, killing 3 people and doing millions of dollars worth of damage.  The roof was torn off the motel and several of the rooms were destroyed. The motel would re-open in May of 1980.

Hartford Courant, 05 Oct 1979, Fri, Page 29
Hartford Courant – October 5, 1979

A few more locations would open in the next several years: Hyannis, Massachusetts; Framingham, Massachusetts; Woburn, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire and Bangor, Maine, making the Koala Inns a recognizable name in New Englandin the 1980s.

Hartford Courant, 30 Jun 1985, Sun, Page 121
Hartford Courant – June 30, 1985

The chain would be sold in 1989 and the properties converted into Days Inns and Koala Inss would be another small, forgotten chain of budget motels.

10 thoughts on “Koala Inns

  1. As a kid, I remember staying at a Koala Inn in Braintree Mass in the early 80s. We were on a family trip and all other motels were full. It was fairly expensive for my family (high $40s) at the time, I remember my father grumbling about it. I thought the hotel was cool, though. One of the key room features was a bedside console with a built in clock radio and switches for the TV and lights. I took a brochure from the hotel but I lost it years ago. I still have a stick on decal of the Koala Inn logo. Would love to find more photos of the motels’ interiors somewhere, they were kind of 70s futuristic looking.

  2. We stayed many times at the Koala Inn Bangor, and I remember annoying my parents by attaching those little promotional bears to everything in the house.

  3. In 1979/80 I was placed in the Koala Inn, Natick, MA by my employer for one month while attending a training course in Westborough. Guests parked nose-first against the front wall of the building (on route 9) on an uphill slope. I am British so not familiar with cars that don’t have a hand-brake and my rental car had a faulty auto gearbox that didn’t lock when in ‘P’ so I had to roll up the the front of the motel and hit the emergency foot-brake to stop the car rolling back across route 9 when I got out! Then I had to remember why the car wouldn’t reverse in the morning until I released it.

  4. When I got out of High School I had a job at the Koala Inn in Hartford. I worked there just a short time and really wasn’t interested in the hotel story too much but I seem to remember the Manager John spoke about The Bradford Hotel in Boston that was being taken over by the Koala group. It was supposed to be some fancy high end hotel they were going to remodel. The Koala Inn Hartford was not in a nice area. Crime was around it and It was near the highway and a small airport called Brainard/Hartford Airport. I did meet some interesting people that’s for sure. It took me awhile to figure out why so many old men with briefcases would check in during the afternoon with their secretaries for a few hours to get some work done and asked not to be disturbed because they will be working. It was an eye opener for a young guy out of school. Working the night shifts was

  5. certainly an eye opener. The manager John was nice . The few ladies that were cleaning staff were fun to watch and listen too. I really liked the group of employees at the Hartford Koala and a guy named Jim that worked next door that would visit for good chats when it was slow. For the short( probably 4 months) I was there, I had so manly funny experiences I still remember because of The Koala Inn.

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