Take a peek into the past in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where doo wop motels were the norm. These mom and pop boutique style motels were thriving in the 1960’s as families and couples flocked to the beautiful beaches for a few days of fun and frolic. This truly was the decade when The Grand Strand was born. Restaurants and new attractions were opening up and Myrtle Beach was becoming the spot for vacationers up and down the East coast.
Built in 1963, Waikiki Village was purchased in 1971 by James and Louise Watts and later passed on to their daughters, Sandra and Nancy. Their grandchildren Johnathan, Heather and Jeremy also helped out when they could. This no-frills motel made that beach vacation affordable for many. What it lacked in luxury, it made up for with quality amenities and a clean, friendly atmosphere that kept families coming back year after year. For three generations, Waikiki Village thrived.
Waikiki Village Lobby, Pre-Renovation (Photo courtesy of Janie Campbell)
Waikiki Village Renovated Lobby (Photo courtesy of Kali Klicks Photography)
We had the opportunity to speak with the previous owner, Nancy Hall, to get a glimpse into the history of this iconic motel. Nancy’s approach was to provide the best in customer service and treat her guests like family. She reminisced about the days before there were 24 hour desk clerks and Waikiki Village had a doorbell. “I lived on the property and would sleep in my clothes, because that doorbell would ring at 4:00 in the morning and I would have to get up and let our guests in”, says Ms. Hall. “We had guests that came for four generations. One family from Kentucky became friends with another family from Ohio. They remain friends to this day. That’s what Waikiki was all about.”
Fast forward to 2018 and Nancy and her sister, Sandra, were approached by an investment firm interested in purchasing this iconic motel and restoring it. “Our vision for Waikiki was to fully renovate this gem that is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Instead of demolishing and erecting yet another sky scraping tower, we elected to capture the charm and character of yesteryear,” said Tom Prioreschi, partner in the development efforts for Waikiki Village.
Waikiki Village Guest Room, Pre-Renovation (Photo courtesy of Janie Campbell)
Waikiki Village Renovated Guest Room (Photo courtesy of Kali Klicks Photography)
Designer, Tim McLendon was hired to manage the interior and exterior design and renovation projects. Tim was inspired by the 1950’s and 60’s boutique style motels prevalent throughout the country when he was a child. According to Tim, “My vision was a cross between Hawaii Five-O and Mad Men. I wanted people to walk in and feel like they were in the living room of one of the Rat Pack members like Dean Martin or Sammy Davis Jr. The exterior will be tropical and inviting.” Waikiki guests will walk into bright blue, orange and green colors, along with retro style wallpaper and funky artwork. The décor is anything from chic rugs and lamps to unique artwork. These renovations also include the outside of each room painted in perky warm colors. The ironwork and trim are distinctive in their own way, and are being restored to reflect that old-fashioned vibe.
Fancy soaring hotels are lining the strip adding to the hustle and bustle of Ocean Boulevard. In the middle of it all, a little piece of history called Waikiki Village awaits. At Waikiki Village, the feeling of nostalgia is why visitors of all ages will want to stay at this historical motel. Despite the fact that the entire property is being updated, the atmosphere takes you back to a time when the music was rock and roll, the family was the center of your world, and a trip to the beach meant hitting the sand, hanging out around the fire in the evening, and simply enjoying life.