Distinct Discovery Homes Inc., Greenville, Mich., is marketing small, custom-built ”Country Cottages” to high-end resorts and individual motorhome owners.
These structures are bigger than park models and generally come with up to 1,000 square feet of space in one- or two-story floorplans.
“They are designed to become an adjunct to an RV lifestyle, much like a cabana or a casita might be,” said Michael Sokol, Distinct Discovery president. “Whenever the kids come to the resort, they have to get a hotel. We are trying to capture that trend.”
These wood-built cottages — in 12- and 16-foot widths and 20- to 36-foot lengths — are designed with cathedral ceilings, Ponderosa pine interiors, stone fireplaces, entertainment centers with flat-screen TVs, lap cedar siding and wraparound porches.
Notably, since they are homes built to meet local codes, they likely will appreciate in value, Sokol said. “These are built the same way a high-end home would be built,” he said. “There is appeal to both campgrounds and individuals.”
To reach this new market, Distinct Discovery displayed its Country Cottage at the 2009 Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa, Fla., and at last summer’s Family Motor Home Association’s (FMCA) international convention in Bowling Green, Ohio.
The cottages — that also have been built on owners’ property in Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee — come in kits and are built on-site by Distinct Discovery crews. They retail in the $119,000 range, which includes assembly.
The first park to install a Distinct Discovery Country Cottage was Valley River RV Resort, a 270-site Class A-only motorhome resort scheduled to open next summer in Murphy, N.C., where they are intended to be sold along with lots.
“The little homes are amenities,” said Dale Witting, president of Appalachian Land Co., developer of Valley River. “We probably will have a dozen of them up for owners before the summer is out.”
This summer, both the Republican and Democratic candidates in the hotly contested race for governor of Virginia embarked on RV tours of the state, employing motorhomes to reach as many towns — and voters — as possible before the election in November, according to RVIA Today Express.
Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds kicked off his month-long “Deeds Country” tour of Virginia’s rural regions in early August, saying “I need to get as many votes as I can from the rural parts of the state.” Deeds and his staff are traveling to Virginia’s rural communities in a Class A motorhome affixed with “Deeds Country” campaign signs.
Shortly after Deeds’ RV tour began, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell embarked on his own month-long tour of the state, traveling in a Class A motorhome customized with McDonnell’s “New Jobs, New Opportunities” campaign materials. The McDonnell campaign has also adopted the song “Me and My RV” by professor Marty Music (www.meandmyrv.com) as the theme song for their RV tour.
The RV tours are garnering significant media attention for the candidates, who both noted that the RVs attract the interest of families who spot them on the road.
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Richard Coon said, “It’s great to see that, increasingly, political candidates of all persuasions are learning what America’s 30 million RVers have known all along: that traveling in an RV is the best way to see America.”
Bus manufacturer Motor Coach Industries (MCI) is stable and “well prepared” with sufficient cash following its recent emergence from bankruptcy which saw the company reorganized with a new majority stockholder, according to President and CEO Tom Sorrells.
National Bus Trader magazine reported that the No. 1 manufacturer of buses in the U.S. emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April.
“The completion of our financial restructuring is a major milestone in the 76-year- history of MCI,” Sorrells said. “I am particularly pleased that, given a very challenging economic backdrop and tight credit markets, we were able to complete the process in just seven months.”.
MCI, with headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill, is a leading manufacturer of intercity coaches. MCI bus shells also are converted into high-end Class A motorhomes.
An investment fund managed by Franklin Mutual Advisers LLC has become the company’s majority shareholder through the conversion of third-lien secured debt into common stock and the issuance of $200 million in preferred stock, according to the magazine.
The company was at one time owned by Greyhound Corp., and most of MCI’s $420 million in debt that was wiped out in the pre-negotiated bankruptcy was accumulated in a spinoff from Dial Corp., which acquired MCI from Greyhound in the mid-1990s. Because bus sales were on the increase, debt payments were taken from operating revenue until MCI’s bankruptcy.
MCI emerged from bankruptcy with $230 million in financing through $75 million in revolving credit arranged by GE Capital and $155 million in a second-lien loan through a group of lenders.
”We have secured a strong new financing package … to enhance the company’s post-emergence capital structure,” Sorrells said. ”With a strengthened financial base, we are well positioned to take greater advantage of the market opportunity and further grow our business.”
Even as overall bus sales declined while MCI Was in bankruptcy, a few days after emerging from bankruptcy, MCI was reported to have increased its market share to 60.2% of the bus market, according to National Bus Trader.
The former site of a mobile home park in Margate, Fla., may be transformed into a $30 million community for 646 luxury RVs, according to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.
A group of 10 French-Canadian investors, calling themselves Aztec RV Resort Inc., hopes to buy the 106-acre plot south of Southgate Boulevard and east of State Road 7 for $15 million.
Another $15 million would go into making improvements to the site, such as a new clubhouse and landscaping, the group’s attorney, Louis St. Laurent. told the Margate City Commission Wednesday (May 6).
The investment group needs to secure adequate zoning that requires several changes, St. Laurent said.
The commission directed city staffers to put the plans on the agenda for the next Development Review Committee meeting in July.
The luxury RVs (Class A motorhomes) cost between $200,000 and $1 million, said Jack Tobin, who spoke on behalf of the investors at Wednesday’s meeting.
So far, Tobin said, the developer has been contacted by about 40 people who are interested in buying the lots based on word-of-mouth alone. He said most residents would be part-time residents from other states and Canada.
Commissioner Pam Donovon expressed skepticism.
“I don’t believe these are going to be selling like hotcakes like they say they will,” Donovan said.
“I don’t like that this is all transients. I don’t like that there are 646 lots and only about 40 of them are sold. I have a real problem with this.”
Other commissioners, however, said it did not matter that the RV residents would be in the area for only a few months a year.
“Many who buy condos only stay for four months,” said Commissioner Joe Varsallone. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”