Harshad Patel, a developer in Los Angeles, says he doesn't expect to convert the first of his four Motel 6s until late 2009 at the earliest. When he does, he'll first upgrade his highest-profile property: a Motel 6 in Hollywood that fetches $65 to $79 a night and is often 90% occupied.
Travelers appear split on the plan.
"I don't think they'd get a new following," says David Conerly of Boston, an occasional guest. "Motel 6's appeal is based upon price."
But Ken Bailey of Grand Prairie, Texas, who stays more often, thinks flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi and other amenities will broaden appeal. "They may not be for everyone," he says, "but I would rather pay $39 to $59 instead of $150 and up when all I need is a clean room."