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Park model with loft

Families finding value and activities renting park models

KISSIMMEE, Fla.  -  Ozzie Martinez has nothing against hotels. But he’s found a better way to travel with his family. He stays in campgrounds with recreational park trailers or “park models.”

“A park model is like a cottage equipped with everything,” said the 33-year-old Miami resident after spending a long weekend with his family at Tropical Palms Resort in Kissimmee. “You’ve got a kitchen, a barbecue. And my kids really like the loft.”

Martinez is one of a growing number of travelers who stay in park model rentals when they travel.

These 400 square foot units, which resemble small cottages, typically come in one- and two-bedroom models, complete with a living room, bathroom and kitchen with full-size appliances. Some units have lofts, which are popular with the kids. And most have front porches, enabling travelers to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine.

At Tropical Palms Resort, which has 115 park model rentals, the units are clustered in groups of four, which give visitors a sense of privacy and a chance to meet their neighbors without the feeling of being in a crowded setting.

And because park models are technically classified as recreational vehicles, they can be placed in campgrounds and RV resorts, offering travelers a scenic vacation setting with more activities than they could typically find at a hotel or motel.

Martinez said staying in a park model in a campground setting is hard to beat. “It’s like being out in nature with activities for the kids. We’ve got a volleyball court, a pond where you can fish. And you can ride bikes here, too,” he said.

And the price, he said, is less than one would pay to stay at a hotel. At Tropical Palms Resort, park models rent for about $100 a night, while popular chain hotels in the Kissimmee area typically charge $150 or more, said Jim Gran, Tropical Palms’ general manager. “It’s a great value,” he said, adding that currently offering packages, which include local attraction tickets to Disney World, Sea World, Universal Orlando and Old Town.

While many campgrounds and RV resorts across the nation offer park model rentals, you have to do a little research to find them.

“That’s because most people simply buy these units and use them as weekend cottages or vacation homes,” said Bill Garpow, executive director of the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA), the Newnan, Ga.-based trade group that represents nearly 50 park model manufacturers across the country.

Indeed, roughly 3,900 of the nation’s private campgrounds and RV parks have developed a side business leasing their campsites to park model owners on an annual basis, including Tropical Palms, which currently has 125 sites available to park model owners.

Tropical Palms’ park models, which are placed on leased campsites in a separate section of the resort, start at just under $50,000, while lease fees are $6,300 per year. Forty-nine families currently own park models at the resort, which has another 76 sites available for park model owners.

For more general information about park model rentals at Tropical Palms Resort, please contact Jim Gran at (800) 64-PALMS or visit the resort’s website at www.tropicalpalms.com. For information about park model units being sold at Tropical Palms Resort, please call Simon Gillings at (772) 774-9625.

To obtain photos, statistics, consumer and campground contacts or other information regarding the growth of the recreational park trailer industry, please contract William Garpow at (770) 251-2672 or visit the association’s website at www.rptia.com.

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Readers comments:
Latest shown first 

Jan Hagel :   We are looking to rent for the month of February 2010, if you know of any park models to rent in the Yuma area.

helene :   We are looking for renting a park trailer for the month of january, february, march,,if possible around yuma az we are over 55+ no smoking no pets .very clean. ahmercier41@hotmail.com

JIM :   Have park model in Casa Grande AZ resort for sale 40 K 520 560 1105 JIM.

Jean :   Looking to buy a park model for the North Georgia area

Rose :   My husband and I are seniors looking to rent a park model within 50 miles or so of Blythe, CA for a month from the latter part of November to the middle of December 2008. We want to try renting before we decide to buy one. We have a well behaved dog.

J & M :   we are looking for a park model in the Yuma area for the month of feb 2009.fully furnished..reply with price. there are 2 of us, no pets.we want to try it next winter and then decide if we should buy.

Karen :   As park owners, we've considered park models as additions to our RV park. They are lovely & spacious, but often do not come furnished, and are expensive to have delivered & moved around (esp. in our more remote location). We've opted for on-site rental trailers, all modern, some with slide-outs, all furnished & self-contained, and can be relocated with a pick-up truck! Plus less than half the cost!

Daniel P. :   We bought two also! - one is up in New Hampshire, One is down in Ocala, FL. Both are heavily customized (I'm disabled), we went through a company called Park Models Plus. We bought both from them, they deliver anywhere in the country. They were very nice people customizing is their specialty so they didn't give a second thought to widening doors and putting in handicapped showers and bedroom and redesigning the kitchen so that I can cook. I love our park models.

Jim B :   Our campground that we have been going to for years, and that has several park models, which are home to several older folks full time, just sold. The new owners announced a increase of almost $300 per month, Of course you can purchase your lot for between $54,000 and $59,000, plus $1,200 per year maintance fees.(subject to change. Many of these older folks could not afford to buy or pay such high lot rent. They are now faced with moving to other campgrounds at moving costs of up to $10,000. The rest of us were lucky enough to be able to find a few lower costing campgrounds. This has shown me that park models may be nice but not a wise investment, at least not in my humble opinion. Think about paying more than you paid for the park model for a 30'x60' lot. Then you must pay an ever increasing fee for the rest of your life or it reverts back to the sellers. This has ocurred in several other campgrounds in the central Florida area this winter. If this trend continues it will soon be to the point that if a regular campground can be found, the average camper will not be able to afford to stay. I know some will say I am just crying "wolf", but I have just seen it happen first hand to several hundered campers this winter. Think long and hard before you invest in any RV you cannot get in and drive/pull off in.

ruth43 :   We have 2 park models, one in Illinois and one in Florida. We had a home in Arcona Illinois and then bought an RV. Eventually we became fulltimers and then decided we liked the south gulf coast of Florida very much and were spending more and more time there. So we decided to buy a park model and sell the RV. We liked living in the park model so much we then decided that we wanted to spend time in Illinois (we like the summer there and we have family) but we didn't need our house. So we sold the house and bought a second park model. Now we're snowbirds in 2 places and very happy.

Rosalind :   There's another thing about park models. We went fulltiming in 02 don't think we could get back into housing market now. We're thinking of a park model as a permanent home now.

Jill P :   I can understand why park models are becoming more popular, they're much cheaper than other vacation homes. We bought ours for $30,000 after looking at vacation homes at ten times that price. Good deal.

 
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