Noel and Carla Azar look at the commemorative plaque at Rockhampton’s Discovery Holiday Park, which Noel’s father built. It was opened 50 years ago on Saturday.
Noel and Carla Azar look at the commemorative plaque at Rockhampton’s Discovery Holiday Park, which Noel’s father built. It was opened 50 years ago on Saturday. MEGAN LEWIS Ml

Tribute to 50-year-old Rocky motel

FIFTY years ago Rockhampton’s landscape was very different, and in 1959, when Alexander and Sarina Azar opened the city’s first motel, people thought it would never last.

But survive it has, with one of their three sons, Noel, 72, and his wife, Carla, unveiling a plaque at Discovery Holiday Park in honour of his parents.

The hotel was originally named the Capri Motel and underwent a number of name changes over the years before becoming a part of the Discovery brand.

“It’s a significant part of Rockhampton’s history and a significant tribute to the courage and foresight of my parents,” an emotional Noel told The Morning Bulletin.

Four months ago Noel, and his brothers Leon and Gerard, realised it was approaching 50 years since their parents opened the motel, which they lived in as a family for many years.

Two months of research later, with help from Anne-Marie and Del at the Rockhampton Regional Library, Noel and Carla had unearthed a rich and interesting history of not just the motel, but of Rockhampton.

Before opening the motel, Alexander Azar worked as a salesman but dreamed of starting his own business.

He researched a number of options and, eventually, decided on a motel. He purchased a nine-acre block of land to the north, two-and-a-half miles from the city centre. The building was designed by Ron Corbett.

Each room had its own colour scheme, and the electricity and phone lines were buried underground.

The first stage consisted of three family units and eight units. The second stage added an extra 11 units, a pool, in the shape of a grand piano (in honour of Liberace), and a restaurant and reception building.

Opening night attracted a crowd of 2000 people, with Deputy Premier Ken Morris cutting the ribbon. Mayor Rex Pilbeam was in attendance.

To this day, their three sons are unsure where the couple came up with the idea to open a motel, but proudly believe they recognised a great opportunity for growth.

Always an innovative thinker, Alexander introduced small quirks to the motel site, including mini pineapple, bananas, paw paw and sugar cane crops, as well as emus.

Noel and Carla are planning to produce a history of the motel to be displayed in the Capricorn function room.



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