Top Of The Line

By Linda Pescatore

February 1, 2008 5 min read


Luxury motorcoaches just right for Type A owners

By Linda Pescatore

Copley News Service

For the same money, you could buy not one, not two, not three, but four brand-new Rolls-Royce Phantom sedans, and still have $40,000 left over. But for some folks, $1.4 million is better spent on one superluxury recreational vehicle. After all, this is their estate on wheels.

Stretching as long as 45 feet, the most lavish RVs are "Type A" coaches, either converted bus shells or custom built and opulently furnished from the ground up.

Almost anything you can have in your home, you can have in an RV, says Kevin Broom, spokesman for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. It's not unusual to see fireplaces, gold-plated faucets, granite floors and countertops, and leather furniture complete with heat and massage.

Features once unheard of are now routinely offered by a number of RV companies, Broom says, such as two bathrooms (one is usually a half-bath) and a garage bay that can haul anything from a pair of his-and-her motorcycles to a golf cart to a Mini Cooper.

Clients of Newell Coach sit down with graphic designer Truman Bidelspach, the vice president of engineering, and other members of the Miami, Okla., company, which builds to order each of the 44 Type A coaches it makes each year. Every detail is discussed, beginning with the exterior paint scheme. If a client wants a one-of-a-kind mural, for example, Newell will hire an artist to hand-paint it.

Slide-outs, or rooms that can be extended outward when the coach is parked, can expand the interior living space to about 430 square feet. Newell can add as many as four slide-out panels, and Bidelspach believes the company's 18-foot forward salon slide-out may be the longest available for this class of motorhome. Having all the comforts of home includes multiple plasma-screen TVs, Blu-Ray Disc and a motorized projector screen. Broom has seen high-end systems with an auto-tuning satellite dish that rotates as you drive to find satellite TV signals automatically.

Kitchens come with a full array of appliances, including convection/microwave ovens and drawer-style dishwashers, which can be stainless steel, laminate or real wood veneer to match your cabinets, according to Bidelspach. Veneers are a recent innovation for RV cabinetry, which was once limited to laminates, and they have proven to be extremely popular, he says.

Bathrooms are just as luxe. Newell's full-size showers, supplied by freshwater tanks, can be fitted with top-shelf jet shower panels, Bidelspach says. One option that Broom, of the RV association, saw recently was an on-board sauna. Both Bidelspach and Broom dispelled a common misconception that these high-end coaches are often fitted with whirlpool spas.

"Usually people ask, 'How many Jacuzzis do you put in?'" Bidelspach says. "I'm sure we have in the past, but since I've been here, I've not seen one installed. It would be a quick way to get rid of all your fresh water."

Outdoor amenities are just as important for most RVers, especially tailgaters. For 2008, RV manufacturer Newmar Corp. of Nappanee, Ind., introduced the "Ultimate Tailgate Vehicle." A rear panel lifts to reveal a full second kitchen, from which food and drink can be passed to guests outside. A Jenn-Air grill slides out from a side panel and swivels so you can position it where it won't blow smoke in your space. A 52-inch LCD TV lets you watch the pregame show in style. When not parking in roomy stadium lots, however, many owners find most RV parks can't accommodate their 45-foot behemoths, so they'll buy one or more lots in exclusive parks such as Outdoor Resorts, which often sport amenities like swimming, golf and boating.

"That really tops off the whole thing, because not only do you have your $1.4 million motorhome, you've spent also another million dollars on your lots," Bidelspach says.

If you don't have a few million dollars to spare, you may still be able to enjoy a luxury Type A coach by buying used vehicles. An RV that was top-of-the-line in 1993 may not have all of the latest bells and whistles, but you can update it if you like. At about $140,000, it's a relative bargain, Bidelspach says.

Heck, for that money, you can't even get one Rolls-Royce.

? Copley News Service

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