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High-end RV resorts are growing in popularity amid the housing shortage. Some consider it “affordable luxury”.


Overlooking the New River in Fort Lauderdale, not far from million-dollar homes across the waterway, lies a well-kept secret: a luxury RV resort.

It offers what many think of when visiting South Florida: gorgeous water views, lush greenery, and million-dollar yachts swimming by, but with a twist.

Instead of condos or sky-high apartment buildings, Yacht Haven Park and Marina offers more than 220 parking spaces that guests can rent to park their RVs.

“I call it affordable luxury,” said Christine Schaub, 33, who rents a property overlooking the New River with her husband Joel, 40.

The Chicago couple, who describe themselves as “young snowbirds,” first bought their RV in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and saw the RV as an option that would allow them to weather the harsh Chicago winters escaping and vacationing at a time when international travel wasn’t really an option.

Nearly three years later, the couple have traveled from coast to coast in their RV, visiting Arizona, New Orleans, Texas, the Florida Keys — and now Yacht Haven Park and Marina.

They began staying at the resort in November 2022, loving the water views and close proximity to downtown Fort Lauderdale life.

“We can now work remotely,” added Joel. “We own a house in Chicago. We bought the RV and we go to resorts like this where you can get out and dodge the snow.”

They are not the only ones who decide to move from a second home to an RV. According to data from the RV Industry Association, one in five recreational travelers has worked from an RV in the past 24 months, and one in four is considering doing so in the next year.

Recreational vehicles, or RVs, saw a surge in popularity when the pandemic hit in 2020.

While the market for them was strong before the pandemic, COVID lockdowns spawned droves of people looking for a means to still be able to vacation while socially distancing.

“The pandemic has supercharged it,” said Monika Geraci, spokeswoman for the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association.

Over 600,000 RVs were built in 2021, a 20% increase from the previous record high in 2017 when over 500,000 RVs were built.

And as the pandemic subsided, the popularity of RVs grew as more people began to prioritize the outdoors. It also became a more affordable option for people wanting to escape rising housing costs or even find a more affordable vacation home.

“When the housing market went haywire, some homeowners jumped on the bandwagon, sold their homes and bought full-time RVs to wait for the market to collapse again,” said Gigi Stetler, founder of Planet RV, a RV dealership in Dania Beach .

Yacht Haven Park and Marina has benefited from the growing popularity of RVs. It has been around for about 30 years but has only recently been upgraded to a luxury resort. They target all segments of the market: snowbirds from the Northeast and Canada, young families who can work and school remotely, and traveling nurses.

On a Thursday afternoon, the resort looked like a vacation spot, with palm trees paving the road throughout the property and RVs lined up just feet from each other.

Guests can lounge by the pool or play with their dogs at the dog park to enjoy the cooler weather. A few couples were sitting outside on their patios enjoying a glass of white wine.

Every now and then a yacht would pass and the passengers on board would wave to the resort guests who saw them.

Some of the more upscale RVs, which can cost upwards of a million dollars, were like stepping into a miniature luxury home, complete with leather seating for lounging, stainless steel appliances, closet space, and plenty of kitchen space.

Managing sponsor Gary Cioffi and partner Christopher Hein acquired the 55-acre site last year and invested approximately $26 million in the property to create an atmosphere where resort guests can park their coaches and enjoy the tranquility.

“When we first bought it, there was actually a boom on the RV side and yachts were being sold at record highs,” Cioffi said. “There’s certainly high demand and low supply for places like ours because the location is so close to downtown.”

The park is located off West State Road 84 in Fort Lauderdale, just off the highway and about five miles from the popular downtown stretch of Las Olas Boulevard. One of the distinguishing points of Yacht Haven Park and Marina is the fact that not only does it have docks where people can park their yachts and boats if necessary, but it is also so close to downtown.

Other luxury campgrounds in the area include Aztec RV Resort in Margate and Pelican Lake Motorcoach Resort in Naples.

Yacht Haven Park and Marina offers guests six different lot types to choose from, including Royal Point Waterfront, Garden View, and Waterfront Premium. Each lot features artificial grass, new driveways and a patio for guests to relax on.

Daily rates vary by season, but typically start at $105 per night for the summer season and $145 per night for the winter season.

“It’s nice to be by the water and the boats,” adds Christine Schaub.

Resort amenities include a dog park, playground for families with children, fitness center, pool, and laundry and shower facilities. They are in the process of receiving permits to build a 6,000 square foot clubhouse with a rooftop lounge, fitness center, redesigned pool and sun deck area, and pickle ball and basketball courts.

“What we’ve seen with campgrounds across the board is that people want more amenities,” Geraci said. “We’ve seen campgrounds that add the kind of amenities you would find at resorts.”

The resort welcomes all types of coaches as long as they are in good condition.