Luxury coaches roll into Breck |

Luxury coaches roll into Breck

BRECKENRIDGE – The average price of a home in Summit County will take a serious hike this week when Phil Cornelius rolls into town.

The Coburg, Ore., man will bring with him two “luxury coaches” – buses that are converted into luxurious homes on wheels.

Some have called them RVs-gone-plush. Others call them their yachts on wheels. Still others call them rolling Ritz-Carltons. And many call them a necessity for their jobs.

Recreational vehicle companies of all sorts have changed dramatically in the past 20 years, but to stand out on today’s highways and byways, firms have to offer something truly unique.

The first RVs were characterized by the silver bullet shape of the Airstream trailer. Developer Wally Byam’s idea was to blaze trails for families and seniors who wanted to travel in the comfort of their own homes.

That’s where Cornelius’ vehicles come into play. These vehicles can be retrofitted to show off the owner’s hobbies. A nautical coach features portholes for windows and parrots and palm trees painted on the back. A sportscar-themed coach has Corvette tail lights and sleek fender skirts.

Most coaches start out as raw bus shells before companies retrofit them into vehicles. Others are built from scratch. And all are one of a kind.

A GPS mapping system for the driver, a full-sized refrigerator, queen-sized bed, leather recliners, trash compactor and stove are standard.

Other features can include hardwood floors, gold-plated hand towel rings and toilet paper holders, 42-inch plasma televisions, curved-glass showers with 10 showerheads, heated granite floors inlaid with mother-of-pearl, ostrich-leather seats and cell phone and Internet hookups – all in about 450 square feet of living space in a 45-foot-long bus.

The vehicles carry a heady price tag as well, ranging from $1.17 million to $1.43 million. That’s why fewer than 5,000 of them are on the road, driven by the likes of country singers Garth Brooks and Willie Nelson, Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve, actor Paul Newman and NASCAR racer Michael Andretti.

“You have some who can’t afford the hubcap on one of them, but the beauty of this is the lifestyle,” Cornelius said. “Some of those who own these started up in a pop-up camper when they could barely make ends meet. They’ve traded their way up, earned it the hard way and now have the means to do this.”

The coaches aren’t cheap to operate, either. Most luxury coaches depreciate 15 percent or so during their first year and an additional 10 percent every year thereafter, according to industry magazines. They get five to seven miles to the gallon.

Used coaches are a little more affordable, ranging in price from $285,000 to $695,000.

Some people buy them because they are on the road, touring in bands or meeting clients. Others buy them to be seen.

However, more often, it’s not just the retired or jet-set famous behind the wheel. With the economic boom that roared through the United States in the 1990s, more and more Baby Boomers are taking the helms of luxury coaches. Many conduct business as they roam the nation’s highways.

Marathon Coach representatives will be available at Tiger Run RV Resort through July 22 – or whenever the last coach is sold.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at ((970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or

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