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.

One comment

  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.

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