Thursday, January 24, 2008

Luxury RVs: Kings (part-time) of the road

Come vacation time, Tai and Theresa Quan used to take their teenage son and daughter to five-star resorts. But not this past year. Tai, an engineering executive from San Jose, Calif., packed up his family and spent five weeks traveling the U.S. in a luxurious 40-ft recreational vehicle (RV) that included a gourmet kitchen, a 42-inch plasma TV and a king-sized bed. "We loved everything about it—from the fine china in the kitchen all the way down to the monogrammed towels," says Tai.

As the Quans can attest, piloting a luxury RV these days is about as far from puttering around in a stodgy old motorhome as dinner at El Bulli is from a burger at McDonald’s. The vehicles of choice for today's well-heeled kings of the road cost from $300,000 to $2 million. Many of these RVs are designed to pull "toy haulers" behind them—trailers with his-and-her motorcycles, golf carts, even small cars. And the real show stopper? "Slideouts," says Jim Palmer, CEO of CoachShare of Encinitas, Calif. "You just push a button and the sides of the RV glide out smoothly on electric slides, expanding the interior of the living room, kitchen and bedrooms."

As over the top as these luxurious RVs may be, they can be surprisingly affordable thanks to a new concept known as fractional ownership. A group of people agree to rotate the use of the RV while sharing expenses such as depreciation, maintenance, storage and insurance. After three to five years, the RV is sold and the proceeds are distributed to the fractional owners.
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RV Education 101 has bundled it's instructional DVDs into cost saving Value Packs. Each of the three packs includes four training DDVDs (3 hours of information) that help RVers understand how an RV works, and how to maintain and use their RV. There are DVD sets for motorized or towable units.

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