Described as a ‘hotel that travels with you’, Cabana combines the freedom of a road trip with the comfort of a boutique property. Rose Dykins reports
As the staycation trend shows no signs of slowing, the rise in domestic road trips and renting camper vans also continues. In response, innovators within the travel industry are launching clever ways to make road trips more seamless, easy and stylish.
One of these companies is US-based Cabana, which has designed a fleet of rentable camper van with interiors said to be “as good or better than” a hotel room.
Cabana has a 24/7 “counterless” check in process, meaning users simply walk up to the vans and unlock them with the Cabana app. Via the app, guests then select the “key” tab from the menu and press “unlock”. A physical key is available inside the van’s glove box.
Aimed at those who are less seasoned van drivers, Cabana’s vehicles offer an experience that’s more akin to driving a car than a van. The Ford Transit High Roof vehicle is similar in size to a large SUV, and fits into standard parking spacesInside, the van is designed to be simple to use – Cabana says it should take no more than 20 minutes for passengers to learn how to use its electric and water systems. These are powered by a combination of the van’s 2160-watt solar panels, its engine (when running) and “shore power”.
Its smart design aims to help maximise storage and minimise clutter, and each van comes with high-end amenities you might expect from a hotel stay, rather than a rental van.
For example, its bed features a queen-size eight-inch-thick, graphite-infused, memory-foam mattress. The van also has a 24-inch Amazon Fire TV, and USB ports and power outlets for charging personal devices.
Its heating system is powered by fuel from the van’s fuel tank, and users can set the thermostat to their ideal temperature. On warmer nights, guest can turn on the van’s ceiling fan, and there’s also a button-up window shade to keep out light while sleeping.
The van’s indoor water efficient shower has a bamboo floor, and Beekman 1802 toiletries stored in built-in dispensers – and there’s also an outdoor handheld shower for washing sports equipment or gear.
One of the best things is the built-in toilet, which lasts for seven days before it needs to be emptied (the Cabana team handles this for shorter stays).Meanwhile, in the kitchen, there is a coffeemaker with Storyville coffee pods, a sink for washing up (not for drinking water) and a rubbish bin. Beneath the bed, there is a 31-quart pull-out drawer fridge.
In terms of storage, there is an interior cabinet that can hold two standard carry-on suitcases, a wardrobe, a safe and a “gear garage” to the rear of the van that can fit in large equipment such as suitcases or skis.
For those hoping to have a workation, a bamboo table can be folded out over the van’s passenger seat. Other features include an outdoor kitchen with a propane-fuelled burner stove that pulls out from the back of the van, a pop-up tent and camp chairs.
For an additional fee, the Cabana concierge team will curate an itinerary based on your trip style and goals. Customers fill out a questionnaire with their preferences, and the concierge emails them a suggested, personalised itinerary for their road trip.
Cabana also offers packages that combine trips in its vans with bookings at campsites complete with food, movie kits (outdoor projector, popcorn and string lights) and suggested activities.
Cabana is currently available to people in Los Angeles and Seattle, and is launching next in Portland, San Francisco, Denver and San Diego. Vans cost about US$200 a night to rent.