Recreational vehicles (RVs) have long lured adventurous souls, but the category also conjures up visions of aging snowbird retirees cruising in 1970s-era campers. The vibe can seem more camping-community than Burning Man bohemia. And yet, despite the jokes and comparisons to trailer homes, RVs are now being reimagined from the outside in—often at extraordinary cost. Some of these mobile mansions offer more creative amenities than your average Hamptons home: tanning beds, upright pianos, misting devices. Below, a look at what comes standard on $1 million RVs—and what you get for an extra mil or two.
The $1 Million RV: 2014 Featherlite Prevost X3-45 VIP Single Slide Executive Coach
"Economy class" ($1,374,451 to be exact) never looked so good. Think of it as your own personal luxe spa and bar that burns rubber while your family and friends relax. Just imagine: You can watch your favorite road-trip movie on the eight Samsung LED LCD flat screens—plus two flat screens in the driver's area—pour yourself a drink with the electronic liquor-dispensing system, and then freshen up in the Scandvik Elka rain shower with integrated LED lighting in the ceiling—all while cruising on a Volvo D13 engine that hits 100+ mph. It gets around eight miles per gallon, but if you're doling out a million bucks for the thing, gas bills are probably not a priority.
Jimmy Adams, president of Featherlite Coaches, compares it to other forms of luxury corporate transportation. "When compared to private aircraft, this will literally take you door-to-door," he says. Plus, with the ability to use your phone and the Internet, as well as "flat-screen TVs and printer/scanner," your trip can be as productive or as laid-back as you like.
Look beyond the tinted windows and you might actually see Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, the Kings of Leon, or even the U.S. Secret Service in a luxury RV. They've all gone to Joey and Trent Hemphill of Hemphill Brothers for luxury motorhomes—although they also decked out their rides with upright pianos, treadmills, tanning beds, recording studios, fireplaces, and mobile museums that go well beyond the million-dollar starter price.
Need designer-name interiors? No problem: There are iPad operating systems, custom-made Fabrica carpets and rugs, custom mattresses, and Kohler digital shower controls with more body-spray options than anyone really needs. As most celebs aren't doing their own driving, Hemphill Brothers can provide certified drivers in the U.S. and Canada, too.
Double your budget and you get a ride like the ones that Ken Griffey,\ Jr., Dave Matthews Band, and Brad Keselowski have rolled up in recently. It boasts heated hardwood and tile flooring, leather from the same tannery used for Ferrari interiors and Eames chairs, an enormous indoor 60-inch Samsung HDTV (with AppleTV, BluRay, HD DirecTV, and HD Broadcast TV), and a full pop-out patio with an ice machine, a fridge, a double-wide grill, a six-foot-long table, and a Samsung pivoting 42-inch LCD HDTV with surround sound. That'll be $2,362,577, plus $2,800 per year for insurance, not to mention gas money (6.5 to 7.5 miles per gallon).
You never know what a luxury-RV customer wants. The GossRV 2009 Prevost Marathon, another model filled to the gills with frills, includes a 210-gallon gas, 150 gallons of fresh-water storage (so you can camp out for days without heading back to civilization), and . . . bunk beds.
"Very few luxury RVs out there have bunk beds, especially with 1,000-threadcount sheets," explains Jer Goss, director of sales. "You also get these drop-down Sony 15-inch HD TVs. Believe it or not, that is the No.1 requested feature out of anything people could ask for, from families to guys going tailgating."
The $3 Million RV: Marchi Mobile eleMMent Palazzo
Move on up the ladder and you get a vehicle that looks as if it was inspired by the sets of James Bond and Star Wars movies. In fact, the exterior looks a little like a Stormtrooper uniform (see photo at top of page). Inside, you'll see Porsche leather, microsuede furnishings, a driver's seat with 270-degree views, and an embarrassment of riches: push a button and the sheltered jet gangway welcomes you aboard, or climb the stairs up to the Sky Lounge rooftop, where you can relax at the bar, turn up the Steinway Lyngdorf audio system, and flip on the misting device on hot summer nights. In park mode, you get up to 24 hours of electric power. Need more than that and you should just consider buying a hotel instead.
The Next-Gen RV
Kevin Broom, the director of media relations at the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), predicts that the next generation of RVs will follow product trends we're already seeing: "I think we'll see use of more composites and eco-friendly building materials. I also anticipate seeing more RVs incorporate tablet PCs or mobile devices to give users quick and easy control of their HVAC and electronic systems."
Trent Hemphill, of Hemphill Brothers Coach Company, notes that we haven't seen a hybrid RV yet. "The system would be very complex, since the coaches require so much power to operate, but I know it can be done."