Image Credit : Elise Hassey





Project Overview

Awarded second in the Australian Financial Review’s 2023 Travel Hot List, with a near-perfect customer satisfaction score and 12,000+ social media followers – all since launching six months ago - Motel Molly is the NSW South Coast’s most sought-after boutique hotel. A creative collaboration between Sydney-based developers, Knox Group, and interior design practice, Richards Stanisich, the pair reimagined a former 1980s motel into a Mediterranean-inspired oasis. With community at its core, Motel Molly has delivered many positive social and economic outcomes for the regional area, assisted inbound tourism and garnered a large following to support the region for years to come.


Knox Group


Developers & Owners - Knox Group
Interior and Architectural Design - Richards Stanisich
Exterior and Landscape Design - Exterior Architecture
Builder - Burraneer Bay Building

Project Brief

To deliver a unique product to the South Coast accommodation scene, Knox took a collaborative design approach, partnering with award-winning interior design and architecture practice, Richards Stanisich, and highly sought-after Exterior Architecture, to create a Mediterranean-inspired boutique hotel.

The approach to creating the revitalised Motel Molly was deeply embedded in its surrounding context. Rather than building something completely new and unfamiliar, we championed the hotel’s nostalgic charm as a local gathering space for the town.

Working with the existing 1980s brick motel and retaining the existing room and bathroom layouts, allowed the project to feel more relaxed and familiar. Richards Stanisich developed a colour palette featuring four tones across the four buildings and suites – inspired by the Amalfi Coast - enriched with a contemporary scheme of custom-designed furniture, joinery, and handmade Moroccan ceramics and textiles. Each detail lends itself to the overall design language, with the wardrobe handles matching the joinery pieces or the curved door profiles, such as the shower glass outline, to form a cohesive design story.

Exterior Architecture skilfully selected a planting palette that was sensitive to the site’s coastal location but played on a nostalgia with an eclectic mixture of succulents and colourful flowering plants spread across the site.

Project Innovation/Need

Collaborating with Burraneer Bay Building, Richards Stanisich and Exterior Architecture, the team worked to execute the design with meticulous attention to detail in every aspect of the development. It was important that focus was given to both the aesthetics and functionality of the motel, considering factors such as design, room layout and amenities.

A fusion of Mediterranean influences and modern design elements, Motel Molly saw many of the building’s original features preserved, further revitalising the 1980s structure rather than starting anew. Set across the existing four buildings, the project configuration integrates the adaptive restoration of the motel including converting the manager’s residence into a luxurious three-bedroom apartment, 3 oversized two-bedroom apartments, a one-bedroom apartment and 11 king suites with the addition of Moroccan-style sunken baths and balconies. Exterior Architecture reimagined the existing pool area into a multi-use zone for guests and the community. The area uses mixed materials including crazy paving, off-form concrete, curved and rendered retaining walls, reclaimed hardwood pergola with climbing bougainvillea, mature olive trees, Moroccan tiling, and Sonos speakers disguised as rocks for added ambience.

Residing in a regional town, Knox recognised the vital role of Motel Molly to support the community. The area's first large-scale accommodation construction since 2015, Motel Molly created new jobs for local trades and businesses, brought over 2,000 tourists to the area, and employs a 100% local team. Furthermore, Motel Molly’s earned media strategy has reached over 22 million with many local businesses featured, further promoting the local region.

Design Challenge

Knox brought together the best businesses in their field to deliver their vision of restoring a 1980s motel into a design-lead, luxury, boutique hotel. This collaborative approach saw an impressive list of partners engaged including the award-winning architecture and interior design practice Richards Stanisich, highly sought-after team at Exterior Architecture, and the Burraneer Bay Building team with over 20 years’ experience.

As the project is based in a regional town, Knox employed Burraneer Bay Building, utilising their strong trades network to source local trades. This not only increased efficiencies, but ensured the project was supporting the local community and businesses - a core focus throughout the project. Due to the design vision, items were required to be imported to align with the Mediterranean influence. In partnering with Richards Stanisich, the team had access to strong supplier relationships to deliver within the timeline.

Throughout construction, Knox was on-site working directly with all stakeholders and held weekly Project Control Group meetings with all trades, builders, and architects. Upon opening, Knox employed a 100% local hotel team which has enabled them to oversee operations predominantly from Sydney, with daily operations managed by the General Manager and team of local staff from housekeeping, to guest services, and garden maintenance.


Refurbishing the 1980s structure rather than building new saw less construction waste and material use overall, working towards reducing carbon emissions. Collaborating with Burraneer Bay Building and interior design and architecture practice Richards Stanisich, we worked to reduce embodied energy and waste by retaining existing structures. By reducing demolition and construction, we were able to minimise the overall environmental impact.

During operation, Motel Molly is committed to reducing our footprint on the natural environment that surrounds us. Each aspect of Motel Molly has been carefully planned to minimise our impact by incorporating a number of sustainability initiatives:

- Use of Ha-Ra cleaning products, pioneering chemical-free cleaning products that are sustainable, all-natural while still delivering a high-quality, hotel-grade clean for our guests.
- Digital room entry, removing the need for physical room key cards made from single-use plastics.
- Seedling Sole slippers in all suites that are natural, plant-based and 100% biodegradable.
- Le Labo shower amenities, using natural, responsibly sourced ingredients that are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.
- Tesla EV chargers available for all guests.
- Complimentary access to bikes and surfboards
- Mini bar including locally sourced items, as well as those known for responsible sourcing.

This award celebrates innovative and creative building interiors where people sleep, accomodation such as hotels, furnished apartments, resorts and even private clubs. Judging consideration is given to space creation and planning, furnishings, finishes, aesthetic presentation and functionality. Consideration is also given to space allocation, traffic flow, building services, lighting, fixtures, flooring, colours, furnishings and surface finishes.
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