Imagine a luxury resort with four "waterfall" swimming pools, an 18-hole golf course and a glistening spa. Now imagine parking your room somewhere else if you don’t like the view. The Indio Motorcoach Resort & Spa near Palm Springs, California, is one of a string of high-end parks taking the luxury RV business to a new level.
From Oregon to Florida, these parks are giving the new fleet of superexpensive motorhomes a suitably posh place to park (and in the right neighborhood). With spots alone selling for $200,000 or more, some of these parks come with Venetian-style canals, private docks and patio-side wine chillers. And with the number of people traveling domestically inching up 2.5% this summer, according to the Travel Industry Association, luxury RV resorts are booming even more.
Still, the rich and famous of the motorhome set can't escape the drawbacks of life on the road. Because these resorts obviously don't have valets, owners have to park their rolling behemoths themselves - and keep the inside tidy (no maid service). And never mind if your RV costs more than $1 million: you'll still have to drain your own sewer tank.
The parks, of course, are trying to catch up with the nation's ever-rising interest in upscale RVs. Sales of supersize trailers and motorhomes, measuring as long as 40 feet, increased about 26% last year to $2.45 billion, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. But until recently, most parks offered little more than a Ms Pac-Man game and a shuffleboard court - much to the displeasure of new "land yacht" owners, many of whom are retiring baby boomers with wanderlust.
Kampgrounds of America, based in Billings, Montana, charges a 20 - 30% premium for its "supersites," parking spaces souped up with $400 gas grills, Internet hookups, private Jacuzzis and even patio lights with dimmer switches. Heck, that's nothing: at Desert Shores Motorcoach Resort in Southern California, most spots are outfitted with casitas (a small house) for expanded room - and sell for six figures. One even has a granite fireplace, heated stone floors and a 10,000-gallon swimming pool with a four-tier waterfall. It just sold for $550,000.
There are still just a handful of truly upscale RV resorts. In fact, fewer than 5% of the nation's 8,500 campgrounds and parks fall into the category, according to the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds. Not for long. In addition to Outdoor Resorts' new parks, KOA is rolling out scores of upgraded "supersites." And it's not just the big RV park chains spending big on perks: Independent Deer Park Golf & RV Resort near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, also completed a million-dollar upgrade, adding a new swimming pool, spa and movie theatre.
Many people who pull into these ritzy RV parks stay for weeks, if not months, before hitting the highway again. Some upscale resorts limit the amount of time site owners can stay to six months or less (to prevent people from permanently moving in). When they're gone, owners can either rent their spot or let it sit vacant.
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