GRANBY — A resort-style pool. A miniature bowling alley. Full-service bars and restaurants. This isn’t your average campground, and you won’t exactly be roughin’ it, either.
This summer, you can practice social distancing and sleep under the stars in a Conestoga wagon, Airstream trailer, luxurious cabin or your own RV, surrounded by all the creature comforts of home — and then some — at River Run RV Resort, a new upscale campground in Granby. The sprawling resort has plenty of space for travelers to spread out and, since it’s less than two hours from Denver by car, you can take a much-needed vacation without traveling through a busy airport.
River Run is part of a growing national trend toward full-service, luxury RV resorts and campgrounds that cater to travelers’ every need. They’re more like all-inclusive hotels than traditional campgrounds, with amenities like spa facilities, multiple pools and hot tubs, on-site restaurants and bars, golf courses, tennis courts, small movie theaters, bowling alleys, coffee bars and arcades.
“It’s a range of amenities, it’s high-quality food, it’s craft beer, it’s the pool,” said Nate Philippsen, a spokesman for Sun Communities, which built similar upscale properties in Paso Robles, Calif., and Myrtle Beach, S.C. “When you’re in our vacation rental (cabins), there are 12-foot ceilings with chandeliers. It’s higher-quality amenities, higher-quality service and a large range of options in an incredible setting.”
Camping as a whole is flourishing right now, with more than 7 million new households participating since 2014, according to a 2019 Kampgrounds of America study. Glamping — a blend of the words “glamorous” and “camping” that includes accommodations like cabins, tree houses, yurts, tiny homes and teepees — is also on the rise, with millennials (born between 1981 and 1997) and Gen X-ers (1965 to 1982) leading the growth, according to KOA.
In addition, RV ownership is especially popular among Gen X-ers with children at home and older millennials, according to data from the RV Industry Association, the trade group representing RV manufacturers and suppliers. These young families want to be outdoors in nature, but they also want lots of organized activities and things to do, especially for kids.
“As more and more families are coming into camping, campgrounds are trying to find ways to provide more on-site activities,” said Toby O’Rourke, CEO and president of KOA. “They’re looking for more ways to add to the experience.”
KOA offers three tiers of campgrounds, ranging from basic to tricked-out. The San Diego Metro KOA, which falls into the company’s “Resort” category, for instance, has a full-time activities director and offers bike rentals, a climbing wall, jumping pillows, safari tents and a cafe, among other amenities.
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Young professionals and families are also taking advantage of platforms like Outdoorsy, an RV rental marketplace that offers a range of add-ons so families can simply show up and start having fun. Want your rental RV to have a fully-stocked kitchen? That’s an option. Want someone to drop it off and pick it up from your campground? Done. Need fishing rods and life jackets for a day at the lake? Those can be included, too.
Families might fly to Florida, for example, and have their rental RV delivered to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, located just a few miles from the Magic Kingdom. When their vacation is over, they can simply fly home, without having to do all the post-camping RV dirty work (literally) of cleaning and dumping.
“They just show up to the vehicle — the refrigerator is full, the outdoor lights are hung, the kids just get to go in and get excited about the beds,” said Jennifer Young, a spokeswoman for Outdoorsy. “The park offers those luxury amenities and activities for kids — swimming pools and breakfast options. (The family is) getting that hotel experience in more of an outdoor activity-based environment. Everything is done for them and self-contained.”
For its part, River Run was designed to offer a little something for everyone. Starting this summer, guests can choose from tent sites, RV sites with full hookups, three types of cabins and several glamping options, including Conestoga wagons, Airstream trailers, adventure tents and yurts. (River Run had a soft opening last summer with some amenities and accommodations available.) Rates start at $60 for tent sites and range from $179 to $259 for the other lodging options.
The sprawling resort also features a small lake with paddle boards and kayaks, a mini-bowling alley, an arcade, a large pool, three hot tubs, fire pits, bocce ball courts, a yoga lawn, a putting green and an off-leash dog park.
There’s also an event lawn and amphitheater, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a sports court complex, a playground, a laundry facility and a general store.
The resort has two dining options and more than 10,000 square feet of event space and meeting rooms for weddings, conferences, corporate retreats and other gatherings. WiFi is complimentary and the RV sites have hookups for cable TV. Guests can also rent golf carts for getting around the property and take a free shuttle to nearby restaurants and attractions.
There are activities and theme weeks throughout the spring, summer and fall, such as “Through the Decades Week” (when guests are encouraged to wear vintage clothing and throwback costumes) and “Carnival Week,” complete with carnival games and foods.
Social distancing is already built in at River Run, which has drive-through check-in lanes and all individual lodging — no elevators or shared hallways here. Even so, the resort is taking steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including temperature checks for employees, increased cleaning and sanitation efforts and take-out at the restaurant and general store.
River Run is also limiting the number of guests at the pool and playground.
Of course, guests can venture off the property and into the mountains for hiking, boating, fishing, biking and other outdoor activities at Lake Granby, Grand Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding areas. And if you really fall in love with the resort, you can purchase a two-bedroom or three-bedroom villa on-site.
“People want options,” said Philippsen. “That’s what we’re trying to capture. If you want to be on your own and go camping, you can do that. If you want to bring your large-class RV, you can do that, too. We want people to do what they want and experience the outdoors.”
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