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Corporate coaches no longer for rock stars only

Big diesel pushers provide customized ride for work, play


Source: Northern Colorado Business Report

Author: Maryjo Faith Morgan

For oil and gas executive Ed Holloway, the need for ease of travel outweighs justifies the cost of his sumptuous recreational vehicle.

Holloway, co-owner of Petroleum Management Co. in Greeley, owns a Country Coach Magna with a 525 horsepower diesel engine, which he recently donated as a celebrity retreat during Bixpo 2005 last month at The Ranch.

Once the province of rock stars on tour, luxury-laden motor coaches are increasingly appealing to savvy executives who want their getaways relaxing and workspaces productive.

Whether used as a corporate meeting room on wheels, business travel or family vacations, a custom conversion can be worth the investment.

When Holloway uses the Magna, he can check on far-flung concerns in his oil and gas business, or simply unwind while tailgating at football games.

"Of course they (motor coaches) depreciate, but you appreciate what they bring to your life and it is worth it. It is hard to put a number on the value of enjoying something like this."

The experience and flexibility of traveling the country in his motor home got Holloway hooked. "You notice more traveling this way, in the little towns you drive through or stop in. History dawns on you, and the travel itself has a new freedom. We sleep better in our own beds; we're all set up and can jump in and go."

This vehicle is an upgrade from Holloway's last diesel pusher, which had only 350 horsepower. He likes the bus chassis, the quieter, smoother ride of the all-air suspension and air-load leveling, a major improvement over legs that drop down and can punch through asphalt or get stuck in mud.

And although the Vorad night vision option was not something high on his list of priorities, he said it is a great safety feature.

"Beyond collision avoidance, the cruise control automatically adjusts my speed and maintains a safe following distance."

Upgrading is part of the motor-coach lifestyle. After just one season, Bruce White, co-woner of Conquest Oil Co. of Greeley, knew he wanted hydraulic slide-outs on his Prevost vehicle. "The motor coach rides the same, but once you are parked, those slide-outs enlarge the living space a full third."

Although each component can add up to $100,000 to the total tally, slide-outs are high on the "in-demand" list, according to RV dealers.

Holloway said there is a friendly atmosphere to this type of transportation. "You can strike up a short-term conversation or a long-term relationship with the people you meet each time you park for the night.

"Everyone should try it at least once," he added.

Multitude of uses

Jimmie Bergman of Foretravel of Texas says corporate coaches can be outfitted as off-site conference, display and workstation centers complete with Internet access, in-motion satellite and even dual restrooms.

Completely winterized and self-contained, these 40- to 45-foot conversions are built on a full-size bus chassis. Six-speed transmissions and diesel engines with 515-plus horsepower are common. Exterior design is sleek and appealing with seamless insulated fiberglass or aluminum roof construction.

Producers of Class A diesel pushers, the Rolls Royce of motor homes, are continually developing ingenious options for corporate coaches, not only for maneuverability and safety in motion but also in luxurious amenities and the most advanced technologies available. Common options are 12,000-watt generators, inverters, computerized status systems, dual rear axles, superior shocks and air leveling systems.

Enhanced cruise control, radar collision avoidance systems, proximity alert sensors, side and rear cameras, CB radio, and voice activated global positioning system with color panel installed in the dash make piloting such a beast possible. The driver's cockpit is a bastion of fatigue-reducing comfort, while rear-positioned engines open up the cockpit to the passenger salon.

Custom interiors

And salon is a good description: The interior of these high-end diesel pushers rivals custom-built homes, with fine wood cabinets and floors, Corian counter tops, instant hot water, heated tile floors, sculpted carpet, cedar-lined wardrobes, hand-applied wallpaper, power window shades, overstuffed swivel armchairs and wall-mounted gas fireplaces.

Unlike those in more mundane recreational vehicles, motor coach amenities are full-sized: beds (queen or king), refrigerator/freezers with ice maker and in-door dispensers, showers, washer/dryer, dishwasher, flat-top stoves. Many have two TVs in home entertainment theaters including high-quality sound systems and DVD/VCR/CD players. Flat panel 37-inch TVs can swing down from the ceiling or drop down into the counter.

Finished basements

But why stop with just one floor? "Basement" models have heated cargo holds with underbelly storage with access from the exterior to equipment, slide-out BBQ grills and complete al fresco entertainment centers.

Or just one vehicle? If the personal recreational vehicles stowed in the underbelly aren't enough, tow packages provide the convenience of bringing along the family car.

According to Mary Barton, marketing manager for Marathon Coach, clients often customize underbelly space for their pets. "Pets have access to the salon at the owner's discretion. These areas are so spacious, we have actually customized an entire apartment with complete facilities in the cargo hold."

Barton added that customer specifications, such as including a recording studio or full-size spinet piano on board, have been accommodated.

But the comfort comes at a price.

These sumptuous homes away from home run anywhere from $150,000 to $1 million.

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