I Hope Australia Never Ends Up Like THIS
When we were in the research phase for the Grey Nomad Awards we looked far and wide at the RV sector both here and abroad, and it really opened our eyes and our hearts.
One of the big reminders from that time was how much we love Australian’s comradery, as can be witnessed in every campsite around the country regardless of class, age or creed. We Aussies are an egalitarian lot, willing to have a chin wag with anyone who’s willing to have a chat with us. In fact, sharing knowledge about our road adventures and the best places to stay and play is core to our collective campsite companionship.
So it was a rude shock to find out that travelling through the land of Uncle Sam would see us “categorised” by the vehicle we drive. Our RV’s class, length and age would either grant us exclusive access to Resorts (apparently, these are so impressive that they demand a capital R on most websites) or see us unceremoniously locked out for ever and a day.
According to Motorhome Advantage, a US site, “The idea conveyed in a resort is different than an RV campground or park. It’s not about roughing it in a rustic setting while having the comforts of home. Instead it is having high-end quality and amenities in more of a pristine manicured landscaped setting. Typically, resorts are located in areas with go-to-attractions and local destinations.”
These Resorts have positioned themselves apart from RV parks and some have restrictions, while others do not. Those that do, specify that you must own a Class A motorhome – they’re the long bus-like vehicles with flat rooves (like the one in the image above) – and the minimum allowable length varies depending on the resort. Some say any Class A vehicle over 30 foot that is less than 15 years old will be welcomed, while others are more particular.
You can buy a site in most of these high-end resorts. In fact, in some, you can only stay if you own your site - and it’s always there for you when you’re not moving your RV around the country. Large sites up to 650 sq metres with views and a list of ultimate features sell for as much as $800,000. Think “RV Homebase” on a whole other level with a combination of custom landscaping, paved seating area, tiki hut, fire pit, permanent BBQ or private pool just for your site.
There are even some that go all the way with customised villas where each owner can choose what they do with the space – some use them as an extension of the motorhome’s living area, while others create huge kitchens or luxurious bathrooms or one-bedroom units where they live while their vehicle is parked up alongside.
Every luxury Resort comes with pools, club houses, tennis courts – more of a country club. Most have restaurants, cinemas, dog care and pet sitting, gathering areas, rubbish assistants, and activity centres where arts, crafts and hobbies are pursued, plus concierge services. Shoe shine, anyone?
Beyond that mandatory amenity list, each has something that the resort uses to stand apart. Here’s five examples:
* Motorcoach Country Club in Palm Springs, California, has rental sites that come with private pools for $211 a day. Although they are well positioned to all the major attractions, such as the Art Museum, the Resort also has an extensive daily calendar of activities, including the curiously named “stitch n’ bitch”.
* Bluewater Key in Florida has a dog park and a “People Park“, plus an extensive canal network that allows everyone to enjoy a private dock with either tiki hut or luxury sun-drenched seating area.
* Hearthside Grove, in Michigan, has cooking classes with local chefs which we thought sounded pretty cool, actually. This place is all about getting together when the mood takes you, so they also have useful events, such as driver training and basic maintenance education provided by the motorhome manufacturer.
* Mountain Views at River’s Edge in Colorado has a stocked trout pond and fishing gear for hire, plus recipes that outline the best way to cook your catch. They're surrounded by serenity and nature actually, such as the nearby world famous Rio Grande National Forest.
* Wine Country RV Resort in Paso Robles, California, has all the usual features plus one that really grabbed our attention – an onsite wine garden. Wine with other guests in the heartland of California wine country? Oh, yes please. And they’ll welcome you even if you’re not in a Class A vehicle. Now this sounds much more akin to the inclusive environment we experience here in Oz.
We drive and love our Class C moho. It’s spacious enough to accommodate us working on the road, yet small enough to just squeak into being driven on a normal car licence. It doesn’t have gold-plated taps, granite benches, chef’s kitchen, Jacuzzi or outdoor flip-up cinema screen, but it’s lovely and comfy. And yet I believe it’s highly unlikely that we’ll ever strike another traveller who'll scoff or tut-tut when we pull into a campsite, concerned that such a low-class beast as ours would dare to drive on the hallowed ground that their motorcoach graces.
Aussies simply aren’t like that – and we love you for it! Roll on…