Explorer Rest & Recreation is "a different spin on a motel"

What is it: Explorer Rest & Recreation is a 25-room motel located between the Cedar Point causeway entrance and Cedar Point Sports Center and Sports Force Park. The inspiration for the motel came to owners Justin and Lisa Brady while visiting national parks across the United States.

“Lisa and I both came from Cedar Fair. I was director of resort operations and she worked for the corporate office in business development,” says Justin Brady. “Explorer Rest & Recreation is kind of a hybrid from our trips, and then we binge-watched the show (re)motel (a program available on a number of streaming platforms), and that a kind of evolved in Sandusky, Ohio.”

The couple, who also operate Lake Erie Adventure Co., a Huron-based business that rents kayaks and paddle boards to its customers, purchased the old Mecca Motel property at 2227 Cleveland Road West in Sandusky and began a complete overhaul of the property.

“I think the show had 24 episodes of different motel properties that were flipped across the U.S., and Lisa and I always joked about the Mecca and how dilapidated it was, that is would be the best flip ever,” Brady says. “When we initially went into it, we were hoping that we could use the infrastructure, but as we continued to open up walls and got further along in it, we basically had to replace everything.”

One of the 25 units features handcrafted knotty alder wood beds and bunkbeds. (Photo/Courtesy of Justin Brady)What’s different: There are thousands of rooms available from the Ohio Turnpike in Avery to Explorer Rest & Recreation for visitors to the area, so the Bradys decided to turn their focus to the east and to the sports complex.

“We built this concept almost specifically for guests who are traveling to CP Sports Center and Sports Force Park,” Brady says. “If you have kids who do travel sports, it just adds up so much.”

The rooms come complete with new air conditioning and heating units, along with handcrafted knotty alder wood beds and bunkbeds, holding between two and eight people per unit. Five of the 25 rooms are multiple-room suites, including three two-room configurations and two with three rooms. One of the three-room units is an accessible unit.

“We kept in mind the winter business that we could get from the sports center when we were developing this,” Brady says. “Originally, the Mecca had just window ACs and only one section of the entire property had heat. Now, every guest room has full air conditioning and heating so it will be a year-round property.”

Another twist: While the Explorer Rest & Recreation includes a mini fridge and coffee maker in each unit, there’s no restaurant on the property. So, the Bradys added four parking slips in front of the motel for food trucks for the guests of the motel and the thousands of cars that pass by daily through the summer to enjoy.

“The food trucks can come in and out on a daily basis,” Brady explains. “This year, we’re going to rent the slips by the day at a pretty cheap fee just to help out the food trucks locally. We feel this location is just so convenient being right between Cedar Point and the sports complex.”

Explorer Rest & Recreation opened for business at the end of July with 13 completed rooms. Brady expects to have the entire motel operational by the middle of September, but will likely hold off on any official grand opening until the beginning of the 2024 tourist season.

“We call it a ‘spirited boutique’ because it’s a different spin on a motel,” Brady said. “It’s what you might have expected in the 1950s or 1960s when motels were prevalent. We have brand new, spotless rooms with great touches and some nods to nostalgia with a modern touch.”

For information: Visit the motel's website or visit its Facebook or Instagram. You can also contact Brady at 419-602-3221 or via email at [email protected].

Lake Erie Adventure Co. has a kayak and paddle board launch at the nearby Sandusky KOA Holiday Campground, and Explorer guests can book packages through the website.