For some of us, the idea of luxury is a hot bath with your head tilted back just so, and your feet poking out through the suds, a fine glass of red waiting patiently beside the froth-covered porcelain receptacle in which you’ve lain. In your hands, a good book is slowly going soggy as its rollicking yarn carries you away in an imaginative adventure.
The idea of luxury, even the word ‘luxury’, is important to many. It is defined when expensiveness doesn’t prevent experiencing something fabulous just because it is unaffordable. It’s thought that sumptuous splendour is part of the equation.
The thing is, the idea of such splendour is a highly personal notion. Put away the hot bath, red wine and good book and luxury for some is a thinly sliced devon sandwich (with or without salad). Or perhaps sitting in a caravan dinette with said devon, sliced thick and grilled with eggs and tomato or beans for breakfast.
So, there’s the problem, when it’s insanely difficult to define luxury, it’s hard to know what a luxury caravan should look like. And then there is the matter of whether luxury is a different experience if you’re rolling down the highway or rattling along a dusty outback road. To figure this out, I sought expert advice.
With a family whose caravan manufacturing pedigree goes back around a half a century, Kedron Caravans' Glen Gall knows something about building caravans in general and typically providing his customers with more than a tincture of creature comforts.
Seeking to answer the question of how to recognise simple sublime sumptuousness, I asked Gall for a few answers.
Despite his trademark knockabout personality, Gall took a pragmatic approach, saying that recognising whether an offroad or touring van is truly luxurious, you need to “start with what’s needed for the luxury”.
He says that any luxury caravan worthy of the tag will have a remarkable power supply and power management system.
“To feed the power for your luxury items you need to start with huge amounts of lithium power and perhaps twin inverters,” he told Caravan World.
He believes that sort of setup enables you to run many items including your air-conditioner with 240V power, or off a generator. That means that you’re in comfort no matter where you’re camping. But as Gall explained, an amazing power and power management system are about more than air-conditioned comfort.
“Whether it’s your Bose home-theatre system, electric heating elements within the lounge seats, additional fridge freezers, wine chillers, heated towel racks, or you name it — everything needs power,” he said.
For Kedron Caravans, luxury means having the best power absorption and power storage available. At present, that means a lithium system.
However, regarding the idea that cost isn’t a factor in finding luxury, Gall believes it depends on what you want and also where you want to travel to.
“If you want luxury while touring on the bitumen, it’s going to be a lot more cost affordable than to have a high level of luxury in a full offroad van,” he said.
The difference is that to have luxury while on a remote wilderness adventure, the cost of being as self-sufficient as possible needs to be factored in. That might mean a power system with, say, 900A of lithium power and 1000A of solar power, instantaneous filtered chilled or boiling water, a surround-sound entertainment system including home cinema, security cameras front and back for peace of mind at night, wrap-around club dinette with quality leather heated seating and more. It seems your imagination is the only limit on luxury.
This means when it comes to offroading, you need to add in the cost of providing enough room while being mindful of weight, providing ample power, food and equipment storage in order to be self-sufficient, and without either the cost of establishing self-sufficiency or being self-sufficient in any way that will degrade your luxury experience. Thus having enough power to pump water out of a creek and filtering it while running the air-con without the mood lighting failing. You get the idea.
Luxury on two levels
SLRV Caravans on Queensland’s Gold Coast has a reputation for producing highly customised offroad global roaming motorhomes and caravans. SLRV’s Warwick Boswerger reckons luxury has a couple of categories.
He says there are the standard luxury items such as leather lounges, satellite TV and solid surface benchtops. Then there are those items that facilitate luxury.
“It’s no good having extra fridges and freezers, and that sort of stuff unless it can stand up to the environment no matter where you are. You have to have luxury on both levels,” Boswerger says.
Size doesn’t matter
Of all the items that could be added to create luxury, Boswerger suggested that increasing the size of the van doesn’t equate to providing more luxury. Despite breaking into his typical broad grin, Boswerger ignored an obvious temptation to comment on how, when it comes to luxury, size doesn’t matter.
He said more important than the size of any van, is the design features that create a certain “wow factor”. He said that design, the use of space, quality materials and interesting textures matter more. Most importantly, “having it all work together” to create an opulent caravan environment is fundamental to the experience of luxury.
tongue in cheek (with devon)
Gall added some sage advice about how perspectives can change on the road.
“The further remote you get, the more things you consider as luxury,” he said.
“You could be really remote and even a roll of devon and toast is luxury.”
That’s his luxury because in the city everything’s available. But the scarcer resources make things seem luxurious. I mean, to get away from the insects, back in the day, a tent was luxury.”
Looking towards the light
LED lighting first hit the caravan world some years ago now. Beyond providing a low-cost lighting choice, the ubiquitous LED can provide a lighting source in as many nooks and crannies as you like. Moreover, LEDs are now able to provide multi-coloured lighting.
Simply, LEDs provide caravan designers with an inexpensive way of establishing a luxury look and ambience. This means the luxury of inexpensive mood lighting and ambient lighting is available for every living space around your caravan.
Luxury vans also often feature large, well-placed skylights that allow a view of the night sky and creating a wonderful, romantic night-time ambience.
Luxury AT the right temperature
Luxury also means superb climate control throughout the van to cater for all weather conditions and is accomplished with low profile, low noise air-conditioning together with quality thermal insulation.
That means luxury vans easily keep you in the comfort zone. Typically, the insulation is more than a spattering of polystyrene sprinkled randomly through wall cavities. Each wall is thoroughly and professionally insulated with high quality materials.
Going where you want in style
Quality luxury vans include high quality tyres, with top-notch suspension that make touring or offroad running akin to riding on a cloud. This may include airbag or heavy duty suspension together with offroad suspension that enables easy hitching from any angle. And as for tyres, the key is longevity and the performance profile you need for your type and weight of van.
Applying a little luxury
Luxury caravans, both on and offroad versions typically include a list of quality appliances that make life simple and comfortable while withstanding the rattle, rock and roll of life travelling along the black top, touring along country roads or rampaging along an outback track.
GET THE WOW Factor
The 'wow factor' for any van is paramount with quality design blending pragmatism with eye-catching design and innovation And, while every person's definition of luxury varies, it seems the more comforts of home you have on board, the more luxurious the experience (plus bragging rights!).