Every time I drive past the Cabana Inn at 2525 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, I don’t see a derelict motel, I see a great mid-century motor court just waiting for a second chance. Built in 1958, the Cabana Inn has the potenital to be a hip hotel, just like the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, which was once a run-down Howard Johnson’s.
(top/cabana image from inhabitSarasota. bottom/ace image from ace hotel)
The Cabana motel is mostly unoccupiable, but the lounge attracts a crowd with five nights of live music, a night of open mic jam sessions and one of Karaoke. Ace Hotel bar has something going on almost every night as well, with DJ’s, live music, comedians, performance artists, trivia and bingo.
(top/cabana image from inhabitSarasota. bottom/ace image from apartment therapy)
While the Cabana lounge is operational, the motel is in desperate need of a major remodel. No worries though, the Ace was too. According to Roman Alonso, co-founder of Commune, the design company for the renovation, the Howard Johnson’s was a total wreck when Ace acquired it. The paint colors were awful, it had moldy carpet, bad wallpaper and was home to squatters. The Cabana owners have completed some upgrades, and continue to work on others, but it’s a massive project and slow going.
(top/cabana image from inhabit Sarasota blog. bottom/ace image from ace hotel)
A Cabana revival won’t be easy, or cheap, but it’s a property worth saving. The same was true for the Ace renovation, but the Commune designers were up for the challenge. Their mission was to create an affordable, stylish hotel, that reflected the surrounding desert and paid tribute to the Southern California lifestyle. Ace, Palm Springs is often described as bohemian, casual, laid back, earthy, and hip. Cabana Inn can be all that, and more.
My favorite elements of the Ace makeover are all on the exterior. I love the bright white walls, red doors, canvas sail cloth banisters, outdoor fireplaces, painted concrete block and the giant ACE letters. The pools are pretty awesome too.
A simple motel, with good bones, offers unlimited possibilites. The Ace Hotel and Swim Club is just one example of a successful mid-century motel makeover. Hopefully, the Cabana Inn will be another.