The Blue Water Motel: A chic new stay elevating the Kingscliff coastline

Set along a serene stretch of coastline on The Tweed, in Northern New South Wales, a newly opened, the 17-room boutique hotel sees guests wake gently to the rhythm of the ocean in a chic, breezy space.

Two of the first things you might notice when arriving at The Blue Water Motel is the pair of unruffled pelicans, nicknamed Captain Skipper and Sandy, ‘The Hotel’s Welcome Team’ – a decorative tribute to the many real pelicans that swim in the creek that neighbours the motel.

The visionary behind the reimagining of the mid-century motel, Creative Director Jason Grant – an interior stylist whose name has become synonymous with relaxed Australian design – says the project has been one of his biggest undertakings, but also one of the funniest.

The Blue Water Motel is a testament to Grant’s refined and well-known aesthetic – and here, it’s been rolled out with aplomb and respect for this coastal neighbourhood.

If you’ve been keeping note of accommodation offerings across the Northern New South Wales coastline, you’ll have noticed that a growing number of ageing mid-century motels have been given a lick of fresh, white paint and drawn in a new generation of holidaymakers.

When it came to reimagining The Blue Water Motel, however, Grant drew on his editorial background to ensure guests would experience a space that felt timeless, comfortable and, most importantly, relaxed – using colour, rather than floor-to-ceiling bright whites, to achieve this feeling.

“Working alongside great clients who were confident and trusted in my ideas meant I could deliver a strong, simple concept that epitomises the relaxed Australian, road-trip holiday. It was important to me, from the initial walk-through, that we didn’t strip back the charm and nostalgia of the property. Instead, we elevated it in a way that made each room feel more spacious.”

What to expect inside the newly renovated motel

Employing a colour palette of soft sea greens, pale blue and a soft, natural white, Grant redesigned each room, the motel’s reception area, a communal kitchen space, newly planted gardens and outdoor areas with a breezy warmth exuding all the air of a sunlit, East Coast holiday.

“The outside of the motel is essentially a billboard for the accommodation,” Grant says, “So I wanted to make sure it honoured the neighbourhood of Kingscliff – and not become an ostentatious, ‘new’ feeling addition to the area. The feedback from the local community has been great.”

His first step on the interiors, he explains, was to remove elements of the hotel that weren’t functional and felt boxy – in order to create a more airy feel for each of the 17 rooms.

Next, he chose a beachy, sand-coloured concrete flooring – “perfect for sandy feet” – and added textural features, including built-in, VJ-panelled bed heads, terrazzo bathroom tiling,

“My main aim for the motel was to think about how it’s going to make people feel while on holiday – whether that’s now, or in twenty years time,” he says.

Though there’s a uniformity to the rooms, Grant has ensured there are individual points of interest in each room. A mixture of locally created artworks, flags and timber pieces from young and emerging designers, plus vintage pieces – spot the Olivia Newton John record on the wall – bring texture to the contemporary motel, while paying tribute to the its past as a longstanding structure of the Kingscliff community.

While removing some of the older, non-functional elements of the rooms, Grant was delighted to find original colours from the motel’s past life shining through – in very similar hues to his own chosen palette. “We’ve included pops of yellow with our chairs and French striped patterns on our roman blinds. Our choice of furnishings and materials are less about hitting trends and more about honouring the timeless, classic, surf holiday feeling. We didn’t want it to feel too kitsch or contrived,” he explains.

The result is a laid-back, seaside escape that you’ll rarely want to venture outside of. Unless, that is, to explore the beautiful beach outside and sample local fare from the myriad eateries nearby.

Where to eat and drink in the neighbourhood

A short stroll away, sophisticated neighbourhood restaurants and casual beachside cafes offer post-swim eats with an inimitable view.

Kingscliff favourite, Greek restaurant Taverna is an easy decision for delicious dinner repast – think contemporary Greek dishes with a localised flavour – and a much-frequented spot for Grant and his team.

Morning coffee, and perhaps the pursuit of creativity, take guests to Stone & Co Coffee and Pottery studio, and The Salt Mill cafe lures passers-by in with the promise of tempting breakfasts and beach-ready take-aways.

By day, Grant recommends Cubby Bakehouse for pastries and cakes, and, for evening drinks, The Pot & Pint, which purveys craft beer, cocktails and fine drops for holiday tipples.

For sophisticated fare, follow the shoreline to Cabarita Beach where one of Grant’s favourite restaurants, No.35 Kitchen & Bar serves up its now-famed, refined, beachside bites and one of the best tiramisus this side of Italy.

A short drive inland takes vacationers into the lush hinterland beyond the beach, and into the sunflower-lined likes of Farm & Co, the fields of Husk Distillery, the lively brewery of Earth Beer Company, and the luxury bistro dining of Tweed River House, among many other hidden gourmet destinations. Or, opt for a picnic brought to you by Blue Ginger Picnics.

“On Friday nights, Mercado Juarez in Burringbar makes for a great time, its neighbour Brooklyn Tasting Room provides excellent drinks, and, in Murwillumbah, Keith is a must-visit too,” Grant says.

This article originally appeared on Escape and do not necessarily represent the views of

About the author


Hi! I’m Ozzie!

Before joining Australia Exploring, I was a writer at Tripadvisor.

I'm looking for the best posts for you about travel adventures in Australia and around the world. This website has the purpose to inspire you to travel… travel more and better. I hope it can help you explore the world a little bit better.

I graduated from the University of Sydney. I live in California with my wife and two children.


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