Dana Bowen and her husband, Lindsay Bowen, both 49, initially had been looking to buy a roomy outpost away from New York City that could double as a vacation rental. The couple have a Brooklyn apartment, and a small house in the quaint village of Athens, in Greene County, and habitually scouted Catskill and Hudson Valley property listings looking for “the one” — something big enough to host family and friends, and rent out the rest of the time.
But they didn’t want to be innkeepers. Bed-and-breakfasts felt too stodgy, and nothing quite fit what they envisioned: a place with a vibe or infrastructure that felt special, with ample private guest rooms and bathrooms, and enough space for sizable groups to gather.
Like the rest of the world, social distancing wasn’t on their radar until the arrival of Covid-19 when, suddenly, pandemic-induced guidelines for human interaction became sobering edicts of a new reality. For the Bowens, these protocols got them ruminating about buying an upstate motel instead. They weren’t alone.
Bygone roadside motels and bungalow colonies, which have been hiding in plain sight throughout the region, are getting a second chance at becoming tourist destinations. Now, these rentals are primed for visitors craving a chance to be social with strangers, but in moderation.
Single rooms can be booked, whole bungalows, too. Or even an entire property if that’s desired. Above all, there’s a new level of thoughtful ministering to travelers seeking more than just a weekend in the country. And for those looking to jump into the local hospitality game, several of these motels — both old and revived — are on the market and awaiting new stewards.
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