In the mid 1950’s American travelers were enamored with the concept of "motor touring.” Motels, short for motor hotels, were popping up along highways all over the country. Milla and Raymond Handley along with his partners were not interested in creating just another place for people to stay along busy roadways. Rather they aimed to create a truly unique complex that would offer an oasis of serenity and peaceful hospitality to every class of traveler. In addition, in order to grow Renault and Handley Real Estate, he selected a number of the original investors to help him develop Silicon Valley.
They engaged San Francisco’s Robert Royston, one of America’s foremost park landscape architects, to design tropical/Asian gardens that included lagoons, koi ponds, a Japanese style bridge and lush tropical landscaping. "I loved the project. Having the water made it especially unique," said Royston, who retired from an illustrious career in which he designed public parks like Palo Alto’s Mitchell Park. "The water and grounds created privacy for the rooms. It was so beautiful, even at night. The wonderful thing about Ray (Handley) is that he would never hold back on the quality of the design and embellishments." If you would like to learn more, Royston is the subject of a book called Modern Public Gardens: Robert Royston and the Public Park by Reuben and J.C. Miller.
The press reaction was laudatory, Arts & Architecture reported, "The combination of rich planting, vibrant color, variety of textures of materials and the free layout of buildings makes for an overall effect of a building group of a most unusual nature." Mobile Travel Guide said, "Outstanding—worthwhile a drive out of your way. Four Stars."