Village Motor Lodge

Developing a brand vision for a renovation of a motel in Cape Charles, Virginia.

Student Project
Nov 2021
Revit, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop
Figma, Adobe Photoshop, Revit
Figma, Adobe Photoshop, Revit
Figma, Adobe Photoshop, Revit
See Credits
Experience Designer
Strategy, 3D Modeling

Motels, long seen as questionable lodging of the past, are coming back.

In the past two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, motels have seen an upsurge in popularity. Travelers seeking to avoid elevators, crowds, and everything that comes with fancy hotels are now turning to motels, which have not been this sought-after in decades.

"Motels are typically one- to two-story properties with exterior corridors and parking lots in proximity to the 12 to 35 guest room doors," said Jan Freitag, senior vice president of Lodging Insights for the data and analytics firms STR. "These properties allow guests to avoid contact with others: They typically don't feature elevators, nor do they have large common spaces, so guests have a sense of control over their environment."

We were tasked with developing a vision for a recently purchased motel in Cape Charles, Virginia.

The new owner is prepared to invest $2 million. The property was purchased for $1,495,000. The property is in excellent condition, a bit dated, but good bones. No major repairs, restructuring or improvements to the property need to be made. The balance of the $2 million investment goes to executing the selected vision.


The Village Motor Lodge was designed for the stop-and-return family vacationer, but today’s traveler is more stop-and-go.

To be fair, in its prior heyday, the Village Motor Lodge catered well to a generation of weekend getaways and an era in which families would pack into a minivan, go check out a new small town like Cape Charles, and then go back home on Sunday. This, however, is not our generation. We’re a generation of travelers, digital nomads, van lifers, and free spirits. Our itineraries never involve a simple loop between Point A to Point B and then back to Point A. We’re moving from Point A to Point B to C, D, E, F. It’s happening so fast that not even Cape Charles gets a passing glance. But we’re going to flip the odds. 


Let’s stop treating the Village Motor Lodge as an end-all destination, and more so as a stepping stone within a larger journey.

We cater to the detour, to the road less-traveled, to the scenic route, and the roundabout way. This is travel freed from the shackles of an itinerary. Free spirits are flighty, but we speak their language. We know to catch their eye and spur a detour with us, we should offer the following amenities: an environment created for work/life balance, van-friendly life, kid-centric areas, and safety.


Boho Coastal

The relaxed, global-inspired aesthetic blends traditional design rules to create a layered, personalized look. Embrace our laid-back approach to style at the Village Motor Lodge.


Featuring outdoor common spaces like an outdoor movie theater, lounge, and sculpture garden, the Village Motor Lodge is sure to attract roadtrippers of all sorts. We have also created a van-life specific space, for travelers to park and enjoy safety and amenities.

Our landscaping will include native trees to the Eastern Shore of Virginia.


In the spirit of taking the scenic route, we chose to update the exterior of the Village Motor Lodge to make it a bit more appealing to the modern road tripper and more in line with an updated interior. 

An updated walkway, furnished with new patio chairs and plants, invite visitors to feel close to the outdoors as soon as they leave their rooms. Our natural, outdoors-oriented decor also appeals to travelers who increasingly seek out this aesthetic for their calming and restorative effects, eager for a peaceful break after the acute stressors of the past 18 months.  


A unique subset of digital nomads are what we call Van-Lifers. They are a community of people who have taken their nomadic lifestyle a step further, not just tackling the pavement but resting within the yellow lines too. Outfitting a van for driving, sleeping, and cooking, they live wherever the road takes them.  

However, the modern world often lacks what a Van-Lifer needs to truly live to their potential. Finding legal, suitable, and safe overnight parking can be a burden. Additionally, the lifestyle is a lonely one. That’s why at the Village Motor Lodge, we’ve committed to providing a specific area for Van-Lifers to come and dock and find solace amongst our community.  

Van spots will offer basic amenities including towels, lanterns, chairs, fire pit, sink with running water, power hookups, and phones through which the front desk can be reached.

There will also be a bathhouse facility for our van camping guests.


Motel stays are often solitary experiences where visitors avoid each other. If you need that during your stay, go for it. But we also believe in creating a community for our unique audience of visitors. An area for outdoor movie viewing creates a meeting place that is fun and restful for the weary digital nomad. 

There are two showings each night, a 6pm family-friendly viewing and a 9pm PG/PG-13 viewing. Viewings happen nightly April-November, and our viewing area includes blankets, pillows, poufs, chairs, heat lamps, and popcorn machine.

Another simple way that we can encourage community at the Village Motor Lodge is an outdoor seating area. This is a place to gather, break bread, or enjoy the occasional cocktail as provided by local visiting food trucks. Lightweight and movable furniture allows for a flexible space, amenable to gatherings of various sizes, whether it be a family or a new group of van-lifers getting to know each other. Fans keep it cool in the summer, heat lamps for the cold of winter. It’s an area sure to inspire shareable moments. 


Artist in Residency Program

Exploration is all about learning, and there is no reason that learning should stop once you’ve checked into your stay at Village Motor Lodge. That’s why we’ve collaborated with a select collection of artists who have provided interactive sculptural installations on our grounds. These sculptures encourage our older visitors to consider the world in a different light. They inspire our younger visitors to interact with the world in a new and imaginative way.

This artist residency is an ongoing program designed to also spur the artistic community of the Cape Charles and larger Virginia area. Artists are chosen, upon application and invitation, and live within the Village Motor Lodge grounds in a permanent airstream van. The artist is given four months to complete a proposed project. We find that allowing interaction between visitor and artist as the work is done leads to a shared learning experience.


An ocean breeze. The smell of incense. A melodic chord reverberates through the air but lingers for only a moment.

Though we’ll provide a roof over your head, it’s the scenery that we’re focused on at Village Motor Lodge. The walls of your guest suite will offer a seamless transition between the privacy of your room and the surrounding nature. Feel as though you’re sleeping under the stars. Let the coo of an ocean bird coax you from a night’s rest.

Our Beach-Boho furnishings are sure to set one at peace, opening the imagination and burgeoning a newfound spirituality. 

Open, airy, & bright. Relaxing & calm. Wake-up rested.


When you arrive for check in, go ahead and shrug off the day’s worries. With our open, four-season adaptive common area, you’re still on an adventure– it’s just that the hard part is done. So relax. We’ve got coffee brewing. If you missed the exit for food earlier, just head outside. There’s likely to be a local food truck parked. Our lobby and common area caters to the immersive experience travelers are looking for. 

We’ve got you covered with the kids too. It doesn’t take long for the Kids’ Corner to make an impression. With bean bags, books, coloring, and more, your kids are in good hands. So go ahead, take a moment. 

Lobby fireplace, multi-use spaces, open & inviting

We know you drive with the windows down. The dirt on your shoes proves the hike. But wash the road away in our state-of-the-art laundry room. Our space offers six all-in-one washer and dryer combo machines, a television, and seating. Put a load in; then go around the corner for a snack at the bar while you wait. 
Digital nomads and free spirit families ages 20-45
Primarily Virginia & Maryland
Van life, traveling, exploring

What makes this location perfect for our vision is how the Village Motor Lodge is nestled conveniently off the side of the Lankford Highway, a midway nexus along a perfect straight shot from Virginia Beach to Delaware, New Jersey, and beyond. We’re ideal for the traveler that doesn’t have Cape Charles as their final destination. Our simple task then: incite a visit. This we can accomplish through our proposed updates, philosophical approach to style, and by welcoming the charm of Cape Charles to wander further inland. 


We know that Cape Charles is a breathtaking little town. It should be enough to inspire the scenic route, but sometimes it’s not. That’s why we’ll double down on the area’s charm and beauty with something a bit more uncommon: quality of room and stay. Our competitors boast an updated environment, but their understanding is antiquated. The Village Motor Lodge will flip the switch. 

No longer a cheap $80/night motel nor an obscene $200/night hotel, Village Motor Lodge is tucked safely in between at an appropriate measure of its quality. Our proposed pricing structure taps into a new price marketing and allows us to offer high-end amenities at an attractive price. More so, we foster a high-value experience that our guests are sure to cherish as a well-spent respite from the road. 

Our savvy spending leaves the owner with a $2,000 surplus.



Anna Foster: research and strategy
Joe Kuhns: copywriting
Nica Mendoza: experience design
Madeline Miranda: art direction
Victoria Nguyen: research and strategy
Rossie Hutcheson: research and strategy

Thank you!