Camping Goes Upscale

Remember when camping consisted of sleeping in a tent and waking up sore from the hard, perhaps wet, ground? Or how about everyone’s personal favorite of walking to the campground bathrooms at night with a flashlight in one hand and a bag filled with toiletries in the other? According to William Garpow, executive director of the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association, and Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds, there is a new option for those looking for a more luxurious camping experience -” recreational park trailers.

Not technically manufactured homes, recreational park trailers are 400 sq. feet or less and “usually have one or two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen, a place to eat and a living area. It’s a pretty nice accommodation,” says Profaizer.

Photo courtesy of Kropf Industries.

Many campgrounds rent recreational park trailers out to the customers for a week, a month or a whole season. Although they do typically include a flush toilet and a full sized refrigerator, along with other homey touches, these trailers are only for seasonal vacation dwelling.

Garpow recalls the summers when his family used to go up to the family cottage on Lake Oxbow in Michigan. These unforgettable, family vacations are changing; at least the venue is changing.

“[Recreational park trailers] are kind of a replacement for the old family cottage, if you would. They work perfectly to be used during the beautiful weather, from late spring to early fall,” he said. “People love them; they fall in love with them.”

Photo courtesy of Western Homes Corp.

And according to a 2010 survey by the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association, Garpow is right. The survey went to new owners of recreational park trailers in the state of Michigan and 100 percent responded they would recommend it to a friend or neighbor. And from a rating system of 1 to 10, the average rate for satisfaction of the park trailer lifestyle was a 9.

The price to buy a recreational park trailer can range from the mid-teens to $65,000, with the average price a little higher than $42,000.

“You don’t have to pay a license registration fee because it stays on the lot and you don’t get hit with the property taxes. It is very economical and it means that you can travel back and forth to the park in a Volkswagen bug if you want to,” said Garpow.

“There are existing RV owners who bring in friends to use the park trailers,” said Profaizer. “This is a good way to expand because once they get into camping, a great percentage come back.”

Photo courtesy of Cavco Industries.

Campgrounds are able to pull in a whole new market of consumers with the wide range of accommodations now available, ranging from tent sites to recreational park trailers to a simple cabin. Profaizer says those who don’t want such a luxurious camping experience can rent a cabin. The cabins don’t have indoor plumbing and other amenities like the recreational trailer, but you can grill outside and enjoy the great outdoors.

“There are all kinds of accommodations. In our industry there is something for everyone. Camping is kind of a recession proof industry,” said Profaizer.

Photo courtesy of Cavco Industries.

She goes on to say that the industry assists the local economies surrounding the campgrounds. Visiting the local attractions, restaurants and stores are only some of the places campers frequent.

“They may even rent cars in the area if they have an RV and don’t have a car. They use a lot of the amenities,” said Profaizer.

Camping is an evolving industry. And now with the addition of recreational park trailers, campers can be one with nature without sacrificing the comforts of home.