Posted December 21, 2018 – Narrated by Carmen
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*see our 5-Bambi rating legend at the end of this review.
“Land of extremes. Land of contrasts. Land of surprises. Land of contradictions … That is Arizona.”~State Guide, 1940
There’s nothing like a full-service RV resort between spells of dry-camping and boondocking in the Grand Canyon State – but, which one to choose?
The old Frost Belt to Sun Belt migration has new flip-flops and, lately Arizona is taking the lead over Florida. Yes, “long time no sea” and all that, but, hey, they’ve got the space and they’ve got the Canadians. There’s even talk about a Canadian Health Center in Phoenix to wax the surfboard south for our northern friends who find our crazy-expensive healthcare increasingly unaffordable and are entertaining the idea of the winter stay-cation.
Add footloose boomers and millennials to the mix and you’ve got a new frontier, Partner. Arizona is not only a winter haven for Snowbirds, but year-round residents are also flourishing. From any Maricopa County highway, it’s difficult to discern where one RV resort ends and the next one begins. Even the resorts have resorts.
Throughout an average Arizona winter, I’d wager there are probably more $350,000+ Class A motorhomes than $250,000 houses. With advice from Airstream friends and our Thousand Trails Encore membership, we finally made a decision and Viewpoint RV and Golf Resort in Mesa flung open their gilded gates to Beauty and The Beast.
Centrally located in Mesa and a short drive to Phoenix, Chandler, Gilbert, Apache Junction, and Scottsdale … Viewpoint RV Resort is the destination for luxurious urban camping.
And, with three Apple stores within a 30-minute drive, it’s a primo pit stop, too. We found everything we needed within minutes of Viewpoint. We even stocked up on maintenance supplies at Airstream of Scottsdale.
Fact is, we were a hot mess when we pulled into Mesa … had a mountain of laundry, an empty pantry, the bikes needed maintenance, the trailer needed polishing and we’d scheduled an appointment for The Beast’s 85,000-mile checkup at the Ram dealership.
What were we thinking? Pearls before swine! We had no time for this fabulous resort! Chances were slim to nill we’d be able to do this place justice.
Next time we’ll plan to settle in for at least a month. But thanks to our Thousand Trails membership with the extra “Trails Collection,” we had a lovely two-week limited introduction for only $26 a night, which includes a $3 per day pet fee and tax. If you’re not a member of Thousand Trails, expect Viewpoint to cost around $77 a night, which includes the $4 per day resort fee and also the $3 per day pet fee.
All 331 RV sites have full hook-ups with 30/50 amps, water and sewer. There is an additional thousand+ sites designated for permanent structures like Park Models which are not available for RV rental.
All RV sites are back-in, extremely wide, and have large, spotless concrete pads for vehicle parking and patio. There’s also a graveled area to erect a cabana if you have one.
Trailers and motorhomes park on a hard packed decomposed granite driveway – so there’s no dust.
Every site has a citrus tree. Timing is everything but luck had us arrive when the trees were fully fruited and ready for harvest.
Branches laden with navel and valencia oranges, tangerines, lemons, grapefruit and pomelos needed us to ease their burden and we were happy to oblige. Harvesting ripe fruit from trees in empty sites is permitted.
Wintering Canadians made up at least half the population here so it’s all very civilized. Trash and recycling are picked up at each site and appropriate full-sized bins are provided.
Package deliveries arrive at the door.
We have only one complaint: We were assigned a space with a fire hydrant and it was impossible to maneuver Beauty between the hydrant and a very thorny lemon tree. After several attempts, we gave up and were assigned a different space. But, the hydrant sites are fine for camper vans, teardrops, and vintage trailers.
WiFi is freely available at many of the buildings, but there’s a charge for WiFi at the site. Verizon cell service worked fine for us with 4 bars LTE with our cell booster.
This place is huge
This resort is so large that we needed our bicycles, a compass and a flare gun in case we got lost. We pedaled around the grounds for an hour every day and still didn’t see everything. Bikes and golf carts are the preferred mode of travel as guests move constantly from one activity to the next.
It’s all about the activities.
There are 4 pools in three different locations. The north pool is kept the coolest for lap swimming while the other three are kept on the warm side. One pool is called the “Family Pool” where visiting children are encouraged to swim. There are six hot tub/spas and one sauna room.
Throughout the resort, we found courts for Basketball, Tennis, Pickleball, and Shuffleboard.
The very official and perpetually busy softball field has a regulation digital scoreboard, floodlights and bleachers.
The centerpiece is an 18 hole championship golf course. In addition there’s a 9 hole executive golf course, plus a driving range and many putting greens.
Restaurant on site
Fat Willy’s Family Sports Bar is located inside the entrance next to the pro shop and you’ll want to beat the crowd to Happy Hour from 2 pm to 6 pm when beverages are $1-$2 dollars off. Specials are $6 burgers on Monday, $2 tacos on Tuesday, and Friday is all-you-can-eat fried fish for $11.
But, back to essentials:
There are three laundry rooms spread throughout the grounds. Each facility is spotless and cheerful. Machines are well maintained and the water is truly hot – not just warm. You must purchase a $2 money card – just like the casino – from an automated machine to use the washers and dryers and deposit enough cash for the job. A wash is $1.75 and $1.50 for dryers.
This is not the usual crappy, rusty trailer park laundry room. It’s properly equipped with clean ironing boards, irons, baskets – and they even provide a treadmill and a fresh new jigsaw puzzle as you wait for the machines to cycle.
All the showers and restrooms are modern, clean and conveniently located throughout the park.
Pets are allowed on a leash. There is a $3 fee – per day, per pet. Sadly, the areas, where pets can potty and exercise, are limited in size and do not function well for playing fetch or socializing. There is a small chainlink enclosed yard for leash-freedom, and a long grassy area that borders the golf course near the busy street.
The pet amenities are average at best and could use improvement. Since so many campers have dogs (a major reason to choose RV travel), ViewPoint guests would benefit from a dog-grooming station and a more dog-friendly atmosphere in general. The fee seems execessive for what is provided. Amenities such as a larger dog park with exercise equipment would be an improvement.
After all, studies show that dogs keep seniors active and there’s no question that ViewPoint’s mission is to provide for active seniors.
You can play tennis in the morning, golf in the afternoon, swim in the evening and take ballroom, salsa or line dancing at night.
And when your feet get tired you can do something else, like …
Jewelry making and silversmith
Many folks enjoy living here full-time. If California residents could get over the “ick factor” about “trailer parks” – which are really just temporary housing – there could be more resorts like this in California‘s urban areas. A new modular housing community today can be a park for the next generation after the residents have gone to Boomer Heaven. It’s easy to plan, tough to sell to the public, but parks like this could minimize the housing crisis.
Even with our incredibly long “to do” list, we still managed to find time for …
Biking from the resort into the community is easy. The boulevards are busy but bicycle lanes and good sidewalks make cycling reasonably safe. Biking within the resort is very safe since most residents and guests travel the expansive grounds on golf carts.
The area around the resort is a hikers paradise – and the crown jewel, Lost Dutchman State Park, is spectacular with easy hiking trails around Superstition Mountain. As a youngster, my favorite album was Walter Brennan’s Dutchman’s Gold, so this was a kind of pilgrimage for me – even better than I imagined as a child!
Again, Viewpoint is an Encore 55+ resort with restrictions on visits from children – so it’s important to check current places before planning a stay with children or grandchildren.
However, Viewpoint’s office schedule can be a pain. If you arrive on a weekend expect the office to be closed. Most holiday travelers arrive on weekends, so they need to have knowledgeable staff on site to handle the inevitable snaffoos. The security personnel manning the two gates 24 hours a day are fine for arrivals, but they cannot handle problems or answer questions when the office is closed with no management on the premises.
But with that sweet special Thousand Trails rate, the free citrus, and all that Christmas cheer, who’s complaining?
We came, we saw, we found …
We might be an easy target these days, but we’re convinced that Viewpoint Golf and RV Resort is probably one of the finest urban camping destinations in North America and we proudly give them a 4 Bambi rating!
What do you think?
Are there any resorts you’d like to share with us? If so, please comment below.
And, Happy Holidays to you, our dear family, friends, and followers. Blessings and peace during this season of miracles.
|Our “BAMBI” rating system explained:
– One Bambi: Should’a boondocked.
– Two Bambi’s: Better than a Cracker Barrel or Walmart.
– Three Bambi’s: Adequate for a short stay.
– Four Bambi’s: Great place! Met our expectations for an extended stay. Needs minor improvements or is not ideally situated for all our preferred recreation (walking, cycling, swimming, kayaking) without driving.
– Five Bambi’s: Destination Camping at it’s best! Critical as we are, there’s nothing we’d improve, and you can bet your sweet Bambi we’re going back!