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What Is the Difference Between RV Parks and RV Resorts?

I have traveled extensively throughout the US for many years and enjoy helping people to make the most of their RV vacations.

Learn about the differences between standard RV parks and RV resorts so that you can avoid overpaying when you travel.

Learn about the differences between standard RV parks and RV resorts so that you can avoid overpaying when you travel.

RV Park vs. RV Resort

Many RV parks like to refer to themselves as “resorts,” but in actuality, they are not. There is a huge difference in quality between the two, but people who are not aware of this often end up paying far too much for what they are getting.

For this reason, it’s important to ask questions and even inspect a park when possible before you commit to staying in it.

You will never find an amenity like this one at a typical RV park.

You will never find an amenity like this one at a typical RV park.

Things to Look for If You Want to Stay at an RV Resort

Although resorts can vary significantly from one another, there are a number of things they all have in common. Thus, if what you want is to find some luxury, the items listed below are what you should look for.

Good Location

Every park that deserves to be called a resort is located either in a good part of town (safe as well as convenient to entertainment venues) or in gorgeous, natural and peaceful surroundings.

Excellent Appearance

Although the theme of one resort may be different from another, each will be well-manicured, clean and in good condition.

You will not find broken laundry facilities or dirty bathrooms in these places because the management keeps staffers available to repair things as soon as they break and/or clean them regularly throughout the day.

Standard RV parks often crowd sites closely.

Standard RV parks often crowd sites closely.

Beautiful Sites

Sites in any resort park should always

  • be well maintained,
  • be well lighted,
  • be spacious,
  • be level,
  • have plenty of room for slide rooms to open,
  • have long, wide concrete pads for both RVs and tow vehicles
  • offer 20, 30, 50 and 100 amp service that works,
  • have good, safe water that does not require a pressure regulator,
  • have hookups that are in good shape and easy to access and
  • have working WiFi and cable connections.

In addition, the roads in the park should be wide enough to allow RVs of all sizes to enter and leave sites easily and turn corners without having to disconnect tow vehicles.

Secure, Well-Appointed Facilities

True RV resorts are walled, gated and have 24/7 security. Most only allow late-model motorhomes and travel trailers in order to maintain the appearance of the park.

They offer many amenities not found in standard RV parks, such as exercise rooms, Jacuzzis, structured activities, lap pools, in-house restaurants, golf courses and even specialty stores.

Laundry rooms are clean, air-conditioned and well-appointed, as are bathrooms.

There is always an air-conditioned central clubhouse that is luxuriously appointed with big-screen TVs, comfortable seating, fireplaces and a bar.

RV resorts often cost much more than standard RV parks.

RV resorts often cost much more than standard RV parks.

Cost Differences

Of course, people who stay in the big resorts generally (but not always) pay big bucks to do so. Luxury like this rarely comes cheap. Furthermore the more you pay, the more you get.

Whereas you can stay in a standard park for $35 to $40 per night, it will cost you upwards of $60 per night to lounge around in a mid-level resort. The most luxurious parks top $200 per night, but these are usually located on beachfront property or are in very popular, scenic locations.

Ownership Possibilities

One big difference between standard RV parks and RV resorts can be that some of the luxury facilities sell sites as well as rent them. You never see this in a regular RV park.

Luxury sites can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and also require monthly maintenance fees as well as charges for utilities, so only the wealthy can afford to own them. They then have the option of adding amenities and landscaping to suit their personal needs.

In one park we visited, some owners had purchased several sites that sat side by side. They kept their recreational vehicle on one and used the other as a kind of roofless home.

They had installed outdoor, fully functional kitchens, bars, fireplaces, and living rooms with large TV and stereo systems. Most had tables and chairs under thatched roof awnings, and every site was lushly landscaped. All were designed with waterproof materials that could be closed and locked up when the owners were not in town!

One man we spoke with had paid $125,000 just for his trees and bushes!

When Should an RV Park Call Itself a Resort?

Standard RV parks use the term “resort” loosely because they know it attracts people by making them think they will be getting something special by staying there. In most cases, this simply is not true.

I have stayed in many such parks that were dirty, needed repairs, had small sites, and offered terrible utilities that cost far more than they were worth. I never make return visits.

I have learned that you generally can’t expect to get luxury for $30 or $40, but
I also know that if you are willing to pay a smidge more (or do a lot of research), you actually can find some really nice parks that will provide a good deal more than the basics.

For example, you can rent a full hookup site in season for $69 per night, or off season for $59 per night, at the park I show in the video, located in Las Vegas, Nevada.

However, there are other real resorts where you can stay for much less if you belong to Passport America and choose your facilities carefully.

You Don’t Always Have to Pay a Fortune to Stay at an RV Resort

One of the best deals we ever got was when my husband and I visited Paragon Casino’s RV Resort in Louisiana.

The park was absolutely gorgeous and had amenities such as

  • huge, well-manicured sites,
  • excellent hookups
  • great WiFi and cable connections,
  • a golf course,
  • a hotel that housed a small movie theater,
  • a swimming pool,
  • several restaurants and
  • even a shuttle that would take you over to the casino and bring you back to your site at no charge!

At the time we visited this resort, our nightly fee was only $11! It costs more now, but at this writing, if you stay there during the week and belong to Passport America, you can still visit for about $12.50 per night.

Know What You Are Paying For

As you’ve now seen, there is a big difference between standard RV parks and RV resorts, but cost is not always the issue. Luxury parks are great, but just make sure that what you’re paying for is what you are getting.

Don’t let the “R” word fool you!

Questions & Answers

Question: What is your recourse if the description is misleading in regards to RV parks and resorts?

Answer: You basically have none, other than to ask for your money back once you arrive and see the circumstances. The word "resort" means different things to different people and is loosely used, but if you have ever been to a real resort, the difference is quite clear. However, it is a rare time when you can stay in an upper-end resort for the price of a normal campground, so if you didn't pay much, you likely got what you paid for, despite the description.

© 2016 Sondra Rochelle