The Mysa Motel review: the Gold Coast’s new sustainable way to stay

Confession: I’ve avoided Queensland’s Gold Coast for years.

Not just a few years, but pretty much all of my adult life. After visiting a couple of times as a child I never went back. Not because I had a bad time, I mean, I was a kid and we went to Dreamworld so fun was definitely had.

But whenever I thought of the Gold Coast I just thought of skyscrapers on the beach, which didn’t appeal to me at all. I now realise how ridiculous I was being as I was writing off a whole corner of Queensland based on a reaction to one tiny section of it. A section I still haven’t visited as an adult so might like a whole lot more than I think I will.

But this story is not about that part of the Gold Coast. It’s about another one. A place I decided to visit simply because I wanted to stay at the Mysa Motel.

The Mysa Motel’s sustainable story

I first heard about the Mysa Motel as I was doing some research for my Sustainable Getaways Instagram and looking for great green ways to stay.

I loved the idea of the first sustainable boutique motel on the Gold Coast so much I decided to go and check it out for myself.  And as Jason and Eliza, the husband-and-wife duo who lovingly restored and refurbished the Mysa Motel showed me around I knew I’d made the right call.

Mysa Motel Gold Coast pool

With a background as a tiler (him) and in hospitality (her) they were looking for a passion project on the Gold Coast and had their eyes on three old motels that were up for sale. The old Palm Trees Motel at Palm Beach was their favourite option and luckily they were the owner’s favourite pick too so it became theirs. Which is when the fun really began.

It took the couple two and a half years to turn the old Palm Trees Motel into the new Mysa (that’s pronounced Mee-sa) Motel. A time when Jason personally tiled the whole property, Eliza was working hands on in all sorts of ways, and a whole group of local builders, plumbers and sparkies were involved in pulling it all together.

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Jason says as well as wanting to support local tradespeople they were conscious of saving part of the Gold Coast’s architectural heritage.

“So much is being lost to new developments it was really important for us to hang on to the facade of the building. And we’ve been praised by locals in the area for saving it, which has been quite rewarding for us.”

Hilton Room Entrance Mysa Motel Gold Coast

Some locals loved it so much they even asked if they could buy a room to live there permanently, but Eliza and Jason wanted to run it as a motel and so continued on with their plans.

Inspired by their international travels they included things like keyless entry, while their love for the planet led to sustainable choices both in the build and the ongoing operation of the motel.

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The entire roof of the Mysa Motel is covered with 64 solar panels and uses a quality system that simply isolates one panel if it’s covered in shade rather than shutting the whole thing down as some other systems do. They create so much power from the sun they not only take care of their own needs but also give back to the grid.

The couple added large rain water tanks to the property that now provide all of their water needs for the garden and for the toilets, while the rooms have filtered water on tap so guests can refill their own bottles to take out and about and drink bottle-free filtered water in the room.

Hilton Archway Interior

Whereas the old rooms had low ceilings and small windows, Jason and Eliza opened them right up, raising the roof and reusing some of that old ceiling timber to create the carport.

They added sliding doors to the back of the rooms to create airflow to reduce the need for fans or air conditioning, as well as giving each room access to its own private outdoor space. And all windows are double glazed to both reduce energy use and highway noise.

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When I ask about the breeze blocks Jason tells me they’ve all been rescued from buildings that were being demolished on the Gold Coast. “We spent hours cleaning them up and then relaying them.”

In fact all of the recycled items that they’ve used have come from the Gold Coast, including the retro leather recliner chairs they found on Facebook marketplace. “They came from someone’s private cinema room and most of them hadn’t even been sat in.” Eliza explains.

And I’m surprised to hear that while some of the sun loungers by the pool came with the motel, the couple managed to find two more that fit in perfectly.

“We thought we needed to find more, and then we found them on Gumtree.” Eliza smiles. “They were white so we painted them to look the same. They’re slightly different but you can’t really tell. And because they’re fiberglass they’re really comfortable.”

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And while their Mysa Motel neon sign may be a new addition, it has links to some of the Gold Coast’s original neon signs after being made by the same family business at Queensland Neon.

The Mysa Motel’s style

One of the most striking things about the Mysa Motel is the way every room has its own colour scheme, and here’s a fun fact: the rooms are named after those colours.

Koi room Mysa Motel Gold Coast
Lilac Affair room Mysa Motel Gold Coast

With the exception of the Hilton Archway room, named after Eliza’s father, and the Merillo, which gets its name from the man who taught Jason his craft, all of the others including Bronte Pink, Lilac Affair, Sky Green and Daylight are the names of the paint colours you’ll find on the custom made doors and the walls within.

In another sustainable move that was a bit of a roll of the dice style wise, the couple didn’t decide on the tiles they wanted and then went to buy them. Instead they bought a whole bunch of discontinued stock that would have ended up in landfill.

“We bought three pallets and we weren’t really sure what was going to be inside.” Jason says. “It was just due to my experience over the years that we were able to mix them up and make them work in each room.”

Pink tiles Hilton room

Recycled glass mosaic tiles were used in some of the bathrooms and in the Mysa Motel pool, which retained its original kidney shape but was transformed into a magnesium mineral pool.

And Eliza says that building through Covid and being hyper aware of making things as easy to clean as possible led to the idea to use tiles for the bedheads as well.

Palm Trees

As I’m shown around the rooms I’m also taken with the framed photos on the walls. The pieces by local photographer Trent Mitchell, who also took the Mysa Motel’s website photos, all show scenes on the Gold Coast, including an image of the old Palm Trees Motel sign reflected in the original pool.  

What it’s like to stay at the Mysa Motel

The Mysa Motel has seven rooms to choose from.

The five rooms named after their colours are 21sqm with a 7sqm courtyard, The Merillo is a two bedroom, two-storey apartment and is 79sqm plus a 21sqm courtyard, while the Hilton Archway which I called home for my stay is 42sqm with an 8sqm courtyard.

When I first saw the Hilton Archway’s arched sliding doorway I thought it might be the reception. Then I remembered the Mysa Motel doesn’t have one and when I realised that was my room I simply let myself in with my pin code.

Hilton room Mysa Motel image Amanda Woods

The Hilton Archway had a living area and kitchenette and a large bathroom with an overhead and hand held shower.

Every room comes with Smart TVs that are already logged into Netflix and Stan and ready to go, free Wi-Fi and a complimentary mini bar which is always a lovely treat and is even better when it’s filled with great Australian products.  

The Mysa Motel’s welcome packs include organic Kindness Bars by a new Melbourne based company that donates 50% of their profits to animal conservation, Pop Fiction popcorn made from Australian air popped GMO free corn, Hrvst St cold pressed juices from Brisbane and Sips sparkling waters with lemon myrtle and native Australian Davidson plum flavours.  

And while I’m usually Team Tea and could have had a cuppa grown in Queensland with their Nerada teabags, I was so intrigued by Gold Coast coffee company the Laughing Pug’s clever coffee bags that I made myself a coffee in the morning. And it was so good I had another one the next day.

In the bathroom there are full size Biology hand and body wash, shampoo and conditioners and moisturisers, the toilet paper comes from Who Gives a Crap and so supports building toilets in the developing world, and rather than an iron there’s a Sunbeam power steamer that made me smile because it just looks like such a cool customer when you want to be wrinkle free.

It may have been winter but I just had to give the magnesium pool a try and even though it was brrrrrrisk in the morning it still felt good on my skin and in my hair, so rather than going straight from the pool to a shower to rinse off the chemicals I let that water stay on my skin.

Considering Mysa means cosy in Swedish I was slightly surprised that there were no hygge vibes with soft rugs or cushions and throws to cuddle up with on the couch, and it would have been nice to have a lamp for some soft lighting options when I settled in to watch a movie.

With all of the polished concrete the Hilton Archway definitely had more of a cool than cosy feel to it, which I realise makes a lot of sense in Covid cleaning times. That smooth concrete would also feel lovely underfoot in summer but if you’re travelling in winter you might like to throw a pair of slippers in your bag to keep your toes toasty.

Other things you might consider bringing: your favourite friends.

As the Mysa Motel only sleeps 16 people it would be easy to book out the entire place for yourself and your friends and family, and Eliza and Jason are happy to talk to people about doing motel takeovers for parties and events where you’ll know everyone by the pool.

What to do on your Palm Beach stay

As much fun as just lying by the pool can be, when it’s time to head out into the world the ocean is just over the road and one short block away.

Feel the sand between your toes as you wave at those Surfers Paradise skyscrapers in the distance, then do a little exploring around Palm Beach.

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There are some fun shops to check out including the Strange Days vintage store. As well as being a lot of fun to shop in they offer a STRANGExchange vintage trade system where you can potentially turn your pre-loved pieces into store credit or cash. So if you have something in your closet that needs to be rocked by another vintage clothes lover bring it with you.  

When it comes to food The Collective is an absolute must and was the first thing pretty much everyone suggested when I said I was going to Palm Beach.

A mere 200m or 2 minute walk from the Mysa Motel The Collective is a collaboration of owner operator chefs with five kitchens serving up Asian, Greek, Italian, Mexican and American dishes. The whole thing has a great indoor and outdoor vibe with retractable roofs to let the sun in or keep the rain out.

And while there may be seating for up to 300 diners but I’d still recommend booking a table so you don’t miss out on this one.

The Collective

Other food just a stone’s throw from the Mysa includes Cafoo Izakaya, a Japanese food, sake and whiskey bar where I enjoyed a delicious poke bowl, and Goodness Gracias, a plant based Mexican eatery where I picked up some healthy takeaway tacos.

On the more decadent than healthy end of the scale, a little bit further down the road the Rollinpins Bakehouse has nutella cruffins, carrot cake muffins and more temptations as well as the Cat’s Pyjamas coffee by Seven Miles in Brisbane. The bakery has only been open for a year and give everything they haven’t sold to charity at the end of the day.

While I was also keen to try Las Palmas unfortunately they weren’t open the days I was in town, and I ran out of time to try other venues I wanted to check out including the Scottish Prince and Frida Sol.

Which just means one thing. I’ll have to come back. And explore a whole lot more of the part of Queensland I’ve missed out on for so long.

Amanda Woods stayed as a guest of the Mysa Motel but as usual all opinions remain her own.

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