Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Campgrounds, RV Parks Renting More Park Models

For three decades, El Capitan Canyon catered exclusively to RV and tent camping enthusiasts seeking a quiet getaway in a rugged oak- and sycamore-lined canyon on the California coast, just west of Santa Barbara.

But six years ago, El Capitan's management invested in nearly 100 park model cabins and instantly transformed this primitive campground into a luxury resort. "It's a totally different experience now," said Terri Bowman, general manager of El Capitan Canyon resort.

Of course, El Capital still offers 80 RV sites and 20 tent sites, but with its luxurious park model cabins, the resort has strengthened its business base and now caters to a much broader clientele that includes everyone from honeymooners to business executives seeking a quiet location for their corporate retreats.

"We offer a camping experience for people who either don't want to camp or have been camping all their lives and don't want to sleep on the ground any more," Bowman said.

It's a concept that is spreading like wildfire in the campground business. Indeed, from California to Maine, campgrounds and RV resorts are increasingly investing in park models as a way to accommodate travel enthusiasts who increasingly seek luxury accommodations even in the most rustic of surroundings.

Unlike manufactured homes, recreational park trailers or "park models" are 400-square foot movable resort cottages that are designed exclusively for part-time recreational use. Typically upscale in appearance, they often include hardwood floors, bay windows and lofts as well as walnut, oak or maple cabinetry.
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