One motel closed, another one has opened, but the new local owners promise to do the job right by meeting the needs of both visitors and residents. The High Tide, a new boutique inn, took over the old Playland Motel and opened its doors over the holiday weekend.
As locals anxiously await the opening of Rockaway Beach Barbecue on the first floor of the building located at 97-20 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, something positive is also taking place on the second floor. On Memorial Day Weekend, partners Javed Rambaran, Adam Ecker, and Thomas McCloskey opened The High Tide and had a successful first weekend despite the not-so-ideal weather, with six out of its nine rooms being occupied by overnight guests.
When Rambaran, a local, purchased the building, along with Ecker and McCloskey, they were surprised to find the old Playland Motel in a usable condition and made the decision to maintain the motel aspect, while making some much-needed improvements.
“As we peeled back the layers, it made a lot of sense to keep much of it as is. We decided to touch it up and learn from the old owner’s mistakes. I live locally and saw what they were doing wrong with running the motel, and it just made sense for us to try our hands at what they started, but turn it into something that is efficiently run and beneficial to the community,” Rambaran said.
The High Tide includes six studios and three suites, which all now have their own bathrooms, instead of a communal shower on the floor. There is also a full-time cleaning staff on site to make sure the accommodations are clean, comfortable and fully stocked for guests. Guests will be able to use third-party websites like Airbnb, VRBO, Travelocity, Expedia, Hotels.com, and HomeAway, to book their room, and upon booking, they’ll receive a key code that will give them access to the building and their room for the duration of their stay. Instead of the dark side alley entrance of Playland Motel, guests will enter through a revamped entrance through the back of the building on Beach 98th Street, where they’ll see a beautiful, welcoming Rockaway mural created by local artist, Kiyan Hagan.
The owners maintained most of the designs of the old Playland Motel rooms that were previously decorated by artists, and asked other local artists like Hagan and Jason Heuer to add their own touches to the entrance and other rooms. After seeing Heuer’s mural at last year’s BLVD Project on Beach 108th Street, the owners contacted him and gave him free reign to design one of the new rooms of The High Tide.
“I got the best client direction ever when they told me to do whatever I want,” Heuer said. He approached it as his own gallery space and went with a gold theme, with a giant gold moon being the centerpiece of the room’s design. “I had been working on pseudo-mystical art and this tied into it. Everything is active art. The moon glows in the dark and when guests stay there, it will be like an experience,” he said. Hagan was also allowed to select the furniture and accessories to go along with the design. “It is wonderful to be a part of this project and know that a lot of people will be seeing it and they’ll have time to actually touch it and experience the art since they’ll have more time with it staying in the room as opposed to it being in a gallery. To contribute my art to the community in this way is an honor,” Heuer said.
Many other locals also helped make The High Tide a reality. A lot of improvements went into the space, especially with utilities, the backyard space, and other technical odds and ends. Rambaran credits local landscape artists James Horne and Carmine, local contractor, J. Hoyler Construction, and local Greg Grosseto’s DKT HVAC company for helping to bring everything together.
As a local himself, Rambaran wants to do right by the community by undoing the wrongs of the former Playland Motel. As Playland Motel closed, rumors swirled that the rooms were being rented to homeless individuals, which caused an uproar due to the bait and switch. Rambaran promises the new motel won’t be used in such a way. After all, he has a contract with local John Moroney, one of the owners of the new RBQ restaurant, to ensure that doesn’t happen.
“We have no desire to ever make that a part of our business. Further, Moroney requested that we formally agree to this so the issue can be finally put to bed. We have a signed agreement between the two parties that confirms this. This hopefully will quell any concerns from the locals about a situation like this ever arising again,” Rambaran said.
With the inn having a successful soft opening, Rambaran is pleased with what has materialized. “We had this jumbled mess at first with a dust covered property, but all the dust has been wiped off and cleaned up and it feels great. This is one of the best projects I’ve done locally. I walked through the rooms and thought, this is a great place,” he said, adding that he and his partners are aiming to keep it that way for years to come. “We see this being a functional business that will serve a purpose for daytrippers and locals looking for a place for friends and family to stay. There was a need for this, and we’re here to fill that need for the community and visitors alike,” Rambaran said.
For more information, visit www.hightiderockaway.com.
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