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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.