While pandemic travel restrictions on air travel have loosened, the renewed enthusiasm for road trips remains strong. Last year, travelers drove away in an estimated 425,000 RVs, and the demand continues to grow. According to the RV Industry Association, initial estimates for 2021 show a 19.5% increase in sales over 2020’s already-impressive numbers. That trend is particularly true in Florida, where snowbirds love to take to the road. “More than 54 million people are planning to go RVing in 2021,” Christy Hamilton of Go RVing says.
But just because everyone is doing it, that doesn’t mean they all want to do it in the same way. Hamilton notes that many high-end buyers aren’t content with run-of-the-mill factory finishes. They’re looking to retrofit their rides with the thoughtful design plans and specifications they’ve come to expect in luxury hotels and in their own homes. “People are demanding cedar closets, more than one bathroom, marble floors, full-size kitchen appliances and operating systems controlled by iPads,” she says. But even with a roster of upgrades (including washer and dryer units), it can be hard to mask that this is still, well, a motor home. For a design-savvy aesthetic that defies the laws of the road, we look for inspiration in Europe and companies like Italy-based CMC Caravan, which has been leading the charge on ultrachic RVs for years.
Led by brothers Vanni and Marco Marangoni, the 60-year-old company is known for creating bespoke interiors with sleek surfaces, elegant furnishings and a host of amenities, like elevators, traditional wood-burning stoves, swimming pools and rooftop spaces outfitted with solar panels. “We built a caravan with a bathroom that featured a double Jacuzzi, with a wonderful—and totally unexpected—vertical garden,” CMC’s marketing rep Monica Ferraccioli says.
The company has been driven by innovation since it was founded in 1961 in Polesine, a town in northeast Italy. Originally, the owners focused on converting old buses into living spaces for local workers, and they’ve continued pushing their creations. In the case of RVs, that means creating dreamy bedrooms for adults and children, designing bespoke furnishings and incorporating refined woodwork throughout an interior. CMC spends more than 4,500 hours building a single caravan from the ground up. The process requires many consultations, wherein teams of designers and craftspeople consider every conceivable need of the client. “It’s important for us to understand how the family will use the vehicle, and we try to identify colors, palettes and preferences that will all work together,” Ferraccioli says. Choice of materials goes way beyond the Formica that’s available in the standard motor home. CMC offers clients American walnut, oak, olive and teak, as well as various natural stones and marbles. For those who prefer an ultramodern aesthetic, they provide an array of hand-lacquered wood finishes or PaperStone, a state-of-the-art matte surface made from recycled paper.
While the majority of CMC’s clientele resides in France, Germany and the United Kingdom, the company has high hopes of one day putting Americans behind the wheels of their creations. But in the meantime, there’s hope for U.S.-based drivers coveting a refined RV. Hamilton advises that companies like Entegra Coach and Tiffin Motorhomes can deliver state-of-the-art kitchens and technological upgrades. For more style-driven enhancements, consult with interior designers who have built a reputation for doing more with less square footage in pieds-à-terre and tight-quartered yachts.