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“Lots of character but poorly maintained”
Review of Magic Beach Motel

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Magic Beach Motel
Ranked #3 of 5 Hotels in Vilano Beach
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed April 28, 2008

I love vintage properties and have reasonable expectations, knowing (in fact, hoping) that it will not be like staying at a modern or traditional hotel. My own vintage apartment is a little run down, but that's part of its charm, so I'm usually not one to complain.

Unfortunately, the Vilano Beach Motel demonstrates that there's a big difference between shabby and dirty. It's possible to run a hotel that's old but full of character, while keeping it safe from decline. I think a lot of vintage motels suffer the same problem: most of the public consider these places outdated or an eye sore (not me!), so when the tourist traffic slows down, the proprietors are forced to change their strategy. The motels become long-term/residential properties, often populated by transient people and/or those who don't care about living conditions and what they leave for future tenants or guests. (A big problem for Route 66 era motels, for example.) Vilano Beach Motel appears to have fallen hard to this trend.

Furniture was very obviously broken in my hotel room; there were live cockroaches as well as dead ones (why hadn't anyone removed them?); the bed linens were stained; the carpet was sticky and black with dirt; elements of the motel grounds were in disrepair (like the water damaged wooden staircase); permanent residents loitered outside, many with their doors wide open, TVs blaring.

I was really excited to come stay here, but years later, I still remember the disappointment and discomfort I felt. Like I said, my expectations are tempered by the fact that I value character over condition, so I'm usually very forgiving. I like a place that's rough around the edges, but this was too much. That's just my opinion - the facts are listed in the paragraph above.

Reviews are so mixed here, maybe the room quality varies. My advice would be, if you're interested in staying at the Vilano Beach Motel, take a look at the property and then ask to see your room before you pay. That's the best way to approach it.

  • Stayed: April 2006
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6  Thank hsemple82
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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281 - 287 of 299 reviews

Reviewed April 13, 2008

My 14 year old daughter, her friend and I spent the last two days of their spring break at this motel. I had smirked at its flamingo and rabbit decor for years when I stayed at another local motel which is beachfront but whose prices continually increase. I asked the girls if they would prefer one night at the previously noted hotel or two nights at one which was not directly on the beach and which, I assumed, was not nearly as nice. They chose the two night stay, and we couldn't have been happier! The room was lovely, very clean, bright and cheerful. The owners were kind and generous. The ocean could be viewed from the parking lot and you could throw a softball from our front door and hit the sand on the beach (if you had a good arm!) This has to be one of the best values that can be had at a Florida ocean.

That being said, if you expect plush accommodations with pillow top beds and will complain about anything less, pay double or triple this price and then feel free to be negative! I recently was treated to a plush room for two days at Hammock Beach, where our 'ocean view' was obstructed by the construction of bleachers for a golf tournament and our room was located above the golf cart shed. We were awakened daily at dawn and could not enjoy our balcony because of the constant yelling of the attendants and the golfers and the hammering of bleacher construction. You could touch hands with neighbors on the balconies on either side. This room cost 3X the price we paid at Magic Beach and my disappointment was hard to ignore.

Magic Beach Motel, instead, so far exceeded my expectations that it felt, well, magical! (And there weren't any roaches, by the way.)

  • Stayed: April 2008, traveled with family
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2  Thank FlBeachlover10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 2, 2008

There were several good recommendations for a "retro" 50's style Florida Motel on the beach on this site. The ones who rated it as horrible were the truthful ones! This place is a tiny dump that feigns as retro. It has just never been updated with modern plumling and accomodations!!

Stayed: April 2008
3  Thank ezwider55
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 13, 2007

As a writer I look for places that are so unique and storytelling to inspire my creative passions to write. ([--]) The people may appear to common simple folk and even at times overtly partying. But the truth is the couple that runs this, do a great job. It's not the Sheraton, or the Hilton. It's like the sign says 'The Magic Beach Motel.'
I had an experience that will always make this place magic, I had a female Indian spirit living with me for a few months, i felt her presence and it intrigued me to do further research into the area. I just finished my 6th book, and plan on staying at this motel for a while again. Some people who frequent this place are famous artists, that have homes in Manhattan, and The Keys. They stay here for the same reasons as I.
However, if you are a SNOB and your expectations are materialistically dissolved in your self-serving embrace of a life that is easily here today and gone tomorrow, then this place is not for you. Its only meant for the real people of the world where they appreciate the simplicity of life.
My hats are off to Ray and Lisa... see ya soon
Catherine Andriopoulos [--]

Stayed: September 2007
6  Thank Zwritergal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 5, 2007

WHAT A HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE! The Vilano Beach Motel could be a wonderful, little place on the beach IF the owners took the time to renovate the property, inside and out. The motel itself is cute and the rooms are huge, but the accommodations are disgusting. Nothing in our unit (number 5) worked! The plug in the bathroom was shot, so I had to use an extension cord from the kitchen to dry my hair. THERE IS NO HOUSEKEEPING SERVICES!!!! I'VE NEVER HEARD OF SUCH A THING! We had to ask for towels, and only then were told "they were still drying". No refills on soap or shampoo. The beds were never made, the sheets never changed, the place was filthy. We had to borrow a broom from the office so we could sweep the sand out of our room. I learned on our last night there, that 7 of the units are rented to people who live there. The permanent residents are a motley-looking crew and spend all day and night walking around the motel smoking cigarettes and drinking. They all know each other --- very creepy and very dangerous. The bathroom toilet clogged ever day. THERE IS NO COLD WATER IN THE ROOM, NOT IN THE BATHROOM OR THE SHOWER. TRY TAKING A COOL SHOWER AFTER GETTING SUNBURNED! A complete and total waste of money and time. My two boys hated it and my husband couldn't wait to leave. It was a filthy, disgusting motel and it's quite obvious that nobody cares about it, inside or out. Oh, and by the way, there are three permanent residents who all own pitbulls who are kept in the rooms! It's just a mess. Stay away.

  • Stayed: August 2007, traveled with family
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9  Thank feline325
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 16, 2007

I enjoyed our stay at The Vilano Beach Motel, The Rooms were spotless, and the staff very helpful. Our rooms were very large with a full kitchen which was great for saving money. The price was excellent. Although the weather was a little too cold for me to swim otheres were enjoying the pool and it looked very clean . Most hotels give you one or two shampoos the Vilano gave us several bottles, and plenty of soap. I have stayed in five star hotels that were skimpy on this. This is a great value place, the room heaters worked very well and the air did too. One draw back was the beds, although my hubby slept like a rock, myself and my mom ended up buying foam pads from targets to put on the bed so we could sleep. The staff assured us they were looking into replacing the mattresses so that should not be a problem for you. The staff was most helpful when I cut my leg and ended up in emergency clinic. I could not have asked for nicer people. Would I stay there again you bet. Sure its kitchy and pink flamingos abound but that is the charm of the place.

Stayed: February 2007
5  Thank degriffith
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 3, 2006

My wife and I really enjoyed our stay at Vilano Beach Motel. The rooms were very clean and look as though they had just been remodeled. The staff was friendly and helpful. We were able to bring food and cook, since the room had a nice sized kitchen which included cookware and dishes. I have a reservation for March and can not wait to visit again.

  • Stayed: November 2006, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank tparrish
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Magic Beach Motel

Address: 50 Vilano Rd, Vilano Beach, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Florida > St. Augustine > Vilano Beach
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Romantic Hotel in Vilano Beach
#3 Family Hotel in Vilano Beach
Price Range: $91 - $174 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:2 star — Magic Beach Motel 2*
Number of rooms: 24
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Enjoy a retro experience like no other, with all the modern conveniences.Each cozy room has been completely renovated and updated. Here in beautiful Vilano Beach, we think EVERY DAY should feel like a Vacation. Just a few short steps from the Atlantic Ocean, there is plenty to do, or nothing to do. Located just five minutes from St Augustine historic downtown, Vilano Beach is known for beautiful family friendly beach. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Vilano Beach Hotel Saint Augustine

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