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As large highway systems began to be developed in the 1920s, long-distance road journeys became more common, and the need for inexpensive, easily accessible overnight accommodation sites close to the main routes led to the growth of the motel concept.
Motels peaked in popularity in the 1960s with rising car travel, only to decline in response to competition from the newer chain hotels that became commonplace at highway interchanges as traffic was bypassed onto newly constructed freeways.
A few motels (particularly in Niagara Falls, Ontario, where a motel strip extending from Lundy's Lane to the falls has long been marketed to newlyweds) would offer "honeymoon suites" with extra amenities such as whirlpool baths.
The first campgrounds for automobile tourists were constructed in the late 1910s.
Expansion of highway networks largely continued unabated through the depression as governments attempted to create employment but the roadside cabin camps were primitive, basically just auto camps with small cabins instead of tents.The next step up from the travel trailer was the cabin camp, a primitive but permanent group of structures.During the Great Depression, landholders whose property fronted onto highways built cabins to convert unprofitable land to income; some opened tourist homes.A motel is a hotel designed for motorists and usually has a parking area for motor vehicles.Entering dictionaries after World War II, the word motel, coined as a portmanteau contraction of "motor hotel", originates from the Milestone Mo-Tel of San Luis Obispo, California (now called the Motel Inn of San Luis Obispo), which was built in 1925.