A hint of yesteryear is beginning to take shape in the unique “Airstream Alley” at Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground, an upscale resort located along California’s Central Coast near Solvang and Buellton, north of Santa Barbara.
The first vintage Airstream travel trailer, a 1964 Safari, is open and available for bookings and was soon joined by other vintage trailers, a 1971 Sovereign Land Giant and a 1955 Whale Tail, that will be rented as a tent cabins (no bathroom). They’re going in to the heart of the resort, close to all the special amenities that appeal to campers.
When complete, “Airstream Alley” will be comprised of six vintage Airstream trailers situated along a pathway landscaped to match the period. Each awning will be striped a different color to differentiate the units.
“It will be like walking through the ‘50s and ‘60s when you walk through that area,” predicted Dan Baumann, general manager of Flying Flags, which is managed by Horizon RV Resorts.
Several RV parks around the country are adding Airstreams to their rental inventory, but none to the extent of Flying Flags which hopes to add as many as 20 of the iconic trailers in the next year or so.
These totally renovated “silver bullets,” built nearly a half century ago at Airstream Inc.’s facility in Jackson Center, Ohio, provide a unique camping experience to those who harken back to an earlier era of camping but still prefer modern amenities, explained Baumann.
The resort’s owners are buying vintage Airstreams as they become available on the open market, Baumann explained. The purchases represent “a significant investment” for the owners, he added.
A special design team, headed by Eric Hawkey, is restoring the units with modern-day amenities such as mosaic tile, stainless steel kitchen fixtures, flat screen TVs, microwave ovens and air conditioners.
No two will be alike.
“All will be slightly different. Some will have queen beds, some will have split style beds a la Lucy Ricardo (in the “I Love Lucy” series) and some will have an integrated bunk bed. All will give a different experience and give people an opportunity to go the gamut with stripes, textures and bold colors. All will be very nice.”
“Airstream Alley” is being landscaped with 1950s-style landscaping, as well as a fire pit, outdoor furniture and globe outdoor lighting.
After the first six go into the “Alley,” the remainder will either be sited on the perimeter of the resort, away from all the hustle and bustle for guests who require more quiet surroundings, or can be integrated anywhere into the resort upon request.
“We look to have them before the start of next season,” he said.
The remaining units will be rented out and placed on a site at the customer’s request, Baumann said. He hopes to have three or four other Airstreams on site by autumn.
The resort has been planning the Airstream component for some time and put the word out that it wants to buy vintage units. “We’re searching for them high and low, buying them one at a time from individuals,” Baumann said.
Flying Flags gets good leads on available Airstreams through the Vintage Trailer Bash it holds each fall. The third annual event is coming up in September. Some 160 RVs from the 1940s through the 1960s come together for the event, with some of the participants being Airstream owners, he said. “We have made a lot of friends over the years with those folks who have fixed up their rigs,” he said. “We’re drawing on those resources as well as others we have made over the years.”
The introductory rate for these Airstreams ranges from $140 to $220 a night, depending upon the time of year.
Flying Flag’s design team, headed by Hawkey, has not gone to Airstream directly for guidance on the project but instead has called on several firms in the West that specialize in restoring the iconic trailers, Baumann said. The actual restoration goes on in a warehouse in Palm Springs, Calif.
“Some of them have come to us to take on the project and contribute to get their name out in the resort,” he said.
The learning curve on restoring the Airstreams is “humongous,” he said. “As we complete one, the next one will go faster.”
“When you buy parts, it’s not like walking down to a Ford dealer and buying trim parts. Only a few guys out there know what they’re doing and have parts available for us,” he said.
The resort’s owners feel that with the demographic that patronizes Flying Flags and the nation’s nostalgia craze, the investment will be worthwhile.
“The feedback thus far has been very good, Baumann said. “We’re not doing this in a hokey style but with little hints of nostalgia that will be integrated into a complete, modern camping experience.”
For more information visit www.flyingflags.com.
It used to be that to go camping you at least needed a tent and a sleeping bag. But in California and across the country, that’s no longer case.
Privately owned and operated campgrounds are increasingly investing in fully furnished park model cabins and cottages, which enable people without camping equipment to enjoy a camping experience, according to a news release.
“California’s campgrounds are located in some of the most scenic locations in the state, so it makes sense to make them accessible to as many people as possible,” said Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, which hosts Camp-California.com, the travel planning website.
Sipe added that all consumers need to do to find campgrounds with rental accommodations is visit Camp-California.com and search for campgrounds using the “Lifestyle Options” function on the website.
“You can check ‘lodging’ to search for campgrounds that offer rental accommodations,” Sipe said.
While park model cabins and cottages are the rental accommodation of choice for most campgrounds, Sipe said campground operators are finding growing demand for other types of rental accommodations, too, including furnished safari-style tents, yurts, Native American-style tipis and RVs.
The San Diego Metro KOA in Chula Vista just received two more park models this month, which it hopes to have ready in time for Memorial Day weekend.
Meanwhile, Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground in Buellton, near Solvang, has doubled its number of park model cottages this year from six to 12 in an effort to keep up with rising demand. But the resort isn’t stopping there. It’s also installing several vintage Airstream trailers this summer, which will be available for rent.
Other campgrounds, for their part, are offering consumers unique camping rental experiences they’re not likely to forget. Rancho Oso in Santa Barbara, for example, has covered wagons arranged in a circle around a campfire pit. The wagons sleep up to four people and are equipped with four cots and an electrical outlet.
The Ventura Ranch KOA in Santa Paula even has furnished Native American style tipis for rent, and the campground is hoping to eventually offer furnished tree houses for rent.
Even government-run campgrounds are getting into the act.
Mount Lassen National Park now offers park model rental cabins.
And Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve in Santee, near San Diego, has installed floating park model cabins, which are available for rent. Seven of the park’s cabins are right on the water’s edge, while three of its cabins are actually floating on the water. The campground is operated by Padre Dam Municipal Water District.
For other ideas on other exciting camping opportunities across California, please visit www.Camp-California.com.
Flying Flags RV Resort and Campground, a 5W/5W premier Resort in Buellton, Calif., in the state’s Central Coast area, will feature an RV show and sale at the resort this summer, according to a news release.
Trailer Hitch RV Center of Nipomo, Calif., will showcase a variety of new travel trailers and fifth-wheels including the popular Heartland, Forest River and Keystone brands.
According to Michael Howard of the Trailer Hitch RV Center, “We have specially ordered models for this show at Flying Flags that are perfect for RVers who might trade up to a new unit, and for campers who are ready for their first RV. There really will be something for everyone, from tiny towable mini-lites to exquisite luxury fifth-wheels.”
The show will be staffed six days per week by show managers who are able to help customers with all aspects of a purchase, including trades and financing.
“This type of a show is a perfect fit for our resort,” said Dan Baumann, general manager at Flying Flags. “It gives our guests the opportunity to explore new RV models in a camping environment rather than a pressured sales situation at a dealer. This is exactly the philosophy of the Trailer Hitch RV Center, so it really is a perfect match.”
Flying Flags is managed by Horizon RV Resorts, and President Randy Hendrickson is equally enthused: “Congratulations to Michael and Dan for pulling together what promises to be the elite, on-site RV show of its kind. By pulling together the premier RV dealer and the premier RV resort in the area, Michael and Dan have created an atmosphere conducive not only to RV sales, but also to our guests’ experience. Guests at Flying Flags have long counted on a superior experience when staying with us, and the addition of this show just adds to that legacy. It’s a home run for all concerned.”
Approximately 40 show units will begin arriving in April, with the official grand opening on May 1. The show will run through Sept. 15, and there will be several special events planned throughout the duration of the show.
Baumann added, ‘We are looking forward to another phenomenal summer season at Flying Flags. With our recent $1.3 million renovation, our guests have never been happier and our facilities have never looked better. The addition of the RV show this summer adds yet another great activity, and we couldn’t be more thrilled by the partnership with Trailer Hitch RV Center. We feel this is going to be our most successful season ever!”
The Trailer Hitch RV Center is a family owned and operated dealership founded in 1970 with the philosophy of maintaining a long-term relationship with their customers, and they were the first RV dealership in California to sell fifth-wheel trailers. Their parts department, RV World Ltd., has the largest selection of RV parts and accessories on the entire Central Coast.
Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground is deally located in Santa Barbara’s Wine Country, only five minutes from the Danish town of Solvang and the Chumash Casino Resort. In 2008 the resort underwent a complete $1.3 million renovation renovation. RV sites feature stamped concrete patios, pads and state-of-the-art 50-amp utility pedestals. Most sites are pull-throughs and Wi-Fi service and cable TV are included. Guests can enjoy the many amenities at the resort such as outdoor movies on our giant poolside screen, heated swimming pools, hot tubs, arcade, fitness center, playground, and the new off-leash dog park. Flying Flags is open year-round.