Review by Vancouver parent //
I am a bit of a self-fulfilling disaster when I travel.
When I travel, I like to have an idea of some good places to go, good places to eat (within my cost-conscious price range), and an idea of where I’m staying/planning on going so I don’t get lost.
Unfortunately, I never set aside enough time to research these things before I go. “Hey! I’m working trying to pay for this trip! I don’t have time to poke around in Trip Advisor for hours and hours!” What usually happens is that I hammer on work tasks till 25 minutes before I leave, quickly print out a Google map or a Travel Advisor page for my bag, oh, and then pout when I get there that I don’t have a proper plan.
Let’s just say I typically do better in smaller cities or towns where I can assess what’s good in a short period of time and not have too many decisions to make while venturing out on day 1 to run/eat/play.
It was in my typical way that I ventured excitedly (but without a plan) to Harrison Hot Springs with my husband, two kids (age 12 and 10) and Ontario-in-laws in August 2015. One of my website and SEO clients, Mary Smith, owner of Springs RV Resort, offered me the opportunity to stay so I could better understand her business while handling the marketing. Yahoo!
Can’t Get Lost – One Way In
We live in East Vancouver, and it’s a relatively easy 100 minute drive to Harrison, pausing for a short wine and grocery stop in Agassiz. No map and no need for GPS even: the green signs along Highway 1 easily guide you off the highway in the right direction. Springs RV is on the (one!) main road into Harrison Hot Springs. The big sign for Springs RV Resort on the left made the resort (also on the left) easy to find.
Best RV Resort on the Block
From the moment we turned into the driveway, we knew this experience was going to be deluxe. The office team were thorough at check in, making sure we knew about all the activities, amenities and rules (“Drive slower than slow!”) As we walked up to the RV we were to stay in, jaws started dropping. Next to the very nice RV was a large wood patio, with one half covered (had couches, outdoor kitchen/bar, coffee maker and flat screen TV) and the other half an outdoor dining suite, providing lots of room for al fresco dinners. Many owners had built set ups like this, all in the same Whistler-style timber and cedar look adopted by the resort.
Inside, the RV was roomy (the kitchen expanded with “pop out” sides) and it had a queen sized bed in the bedroom and a pullout couch in the living room.
Bill the manager gave the kids and I a tour in his 6 seater golf cart. As we drove, I enjoyed the late summer sedum, black eyed Susan and grasses planted along crushed gravel walking pathways. Bill showed us where the 18+ clubhouse and pool were. The 18+ area has a separate hot tub (with very cool underwater red lights at night) and a great waterfall feature with even more plants. The 18+ clubhouse looked like a great place to hang out. We checked it out later and it had a huge deck, classy couches, modern firepits, and inside lots of activities and a cool resort feel.
The Family pool and clubhouse were not too far away, and conveniently right behind our digs for the weekend. So after the tour, the kids and grandma jumped in their suits to head for the pool. (Kids under 14 need supervision). My daughter was really impressed with the flowers and waterfall taps in the spa-like bathrooms next to the pool: “Wow, this place is amazing!”
The Party was Already There
We arrived on a Friday night and there was a BBQ at 5:30pm ($5 a burger, $1 corn, $1 drink) and an outdoor movie planned for later. Bonus: no decisions, no cooking and no wondering what to do after dinner! The covered games area (aka pavilion) where the BBQ was held was a great meeting place: centrally located to all the lots and allowing us to mix with new friends. Many families clearly knew each other well and were having a great time. Neat that owners would see each other often over the summer and build community.
Close to Harrison Fun
On Saturday morning, we walked 15 minutes north to the main town of Harrison Hot Springs. We noted that the stretch of road where Springs RV Resort is located has a few other RV parks nearby. What stood out was that the signage, landscaping, pathways, heated pools, clubhouse and amenities at Springs RV Resort are all superior to what we saw at the other parks as we walked by.
In town, we were awed at the lake and mountain view, then headed to Killer’s Cove Boat Rentals to see if there were kayaks left – it was to be Grandma’s First Kayak! Grandma is pretty fit at 68 and wanted to try kayaking. She was in a double with me, which was a good choice for her (from a workout perspective) because the kids and hubbie lost paddling focus after we hit the 30 minute mark into the (safe and calm) mouth of the Harrison River.
After a bit of wind on the way back in (yeah, arms!), we found Grandpa, had 6 celebratory gelatos, then walked back to Springs RV for a late lunch.
Places to Play
There are lots of places to play at Springs RV. My kids were a little too old for the playground but there is a good one there, complete with a small vintage Carousel from the 1930s which previously was at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver. We roamed around the park (there’s a wee hiking trail behind the park), swam, sunned, enjoyed the free wifi, played 100 rounds of cards at the dining table (good for those math skills!), then made dinner.
There are lots of other activities going on at the resort too.
A Place to Come Back to: Recreational Property in Harrison Hot Springs
As I was soaking up rays poolside on Sunday and planning the day (we did a flat walk-hike at the Othello Tunnels, about 30 min drive away – and so worth it ), I thought about the benefits of owning an RV in the Fraser Valley vs. other types of recreational property ownership vs. just going on (hotel or camping) trips.
If you have kids or grandkids, owning an RV and RV lot makes a lot of sense. If you like going to a familiar place to holiday again and again. With a recreational property, it’s your stuff, your dresser drawers, your lot, your upgrades – patio, deck, ‘shabin’ (shed/cabin that can be built for extra bunks or storage), and you can pack up a lot faster from home when you know that your swim suit and weekend clothes are already there. Plus, you can invite your family to stay or use the RV when you are not there. You can even take your RV on the road, say, in winter, if sunny Palm Springs is calling!
As an owned piece of land, your equity in the lot grows over time, giving you something your family can enjoy for decades. When the time comes that you want to re-sell, your investment has grown and you leave with a smile and a lot of good memories.
As of April 2016, there are about 5 lots available from a total of 206, and they come in a few price and size ranges. All sites have electrical hookups with 30 amp or 50 amp service available.
Annual Costs of Owning an RV and RV Lot
Here’s the math: On a $100,000 lot, borrowing $30,000 for the RV, you could put $20,000 down, and, based on a 2.5% mortgage and including Resort Maintenance Costs (property taxes in) and minimal hydro, pay $7212 a year to own your own RV lot. That’s $600 a month, or about $180 a night if you do 40 nights a year. That’s 40 nights a year with 2 exclusive pools, 2 hot tubs, gorgeous landscaping, clubhouses, games room, heated bathroom floors in the spa shower room, fun activities, and a place for you and your family to call your 2nd home. In 25 years, the lot and hydro costs would only be $153 per month.
Compare that to the cost of a strata-based condo at Whistler, or the maintenance and property tax on a cabin on a gulf island, the Okanagan or in the Kootenays (which probably wouldn’t have a pool – or if it did, would cost you more!)
Walking around Saturday night with hubbie as we held hands and enjoyed the stars, we could hear lots of families having gatherings on their patios. Owning an RV lot in Harrison Hot Springs would definitely be a relatively low-cost and no-stress way to have many fun family weekends year after year.