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This resort might change the way you think about RV parks — and the coast of Chula Vista

Costa Vista vacation rental.
In addition to 197 traditional stalls, the Costa Vista RV resort offers 49 fully furnished vacation rentals in two options: A one-bedroom-plus-loft model and a two-bedroom floor plan. A handful of the rentals have rooftop porches with views of San Diego Bay.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Costa Vista RV resort occupies 19 acres of upgraded tidelands. Its calling card is a pool deck that overlooks San Diego Bay and resembles something you might find at a fancy hotel

Opening April 1, the Costa Vista RV resort is no joke, offering a luxury twist on motor-home travel and setting the tone for an all-new Chula Vista bayfront.

The Sun Communities destination occupies 19 acres of upgraded tidelands at 825 E Street in the South Bay. The resort touts 197 traditional RV stalls and 49 townhome-style parked RVs for rent. Its calling card will likely be the pool deck that not only overlooks San Diego Bay, but resembles something you might find at the fanciest of family-friendly hotels. And prices — a basic, back-in site is currently renting for $109 per night, whereas the 399-square-foot cottage units start at $315 per night — are meant to be approachable to a variety of budget-conscious travelers.

COVID-19 regulations permitting, stays include unrestricted access to a host of amenities — no resort fee necessary.

The main recreation area, referred to as “The Commons,” includes a cafe and bar, pool, hot tub, splash pad, poolside movie screen, large fire pit, fitness center and arcade. Elsewhere on the property, guests can play basketball, bocce ball and horseshoes. Or they can leisurely take in the coastal ambience from each rental’s private patio or deck, as well as socialize in picnic and lounge areas located around the property.

Costa Vista pool deck
When completed, the resort’s pool deck will include cabanas, a splash pad, hot tub, large fire pit and access to the cafe and bar.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Beyond offering top-tier amenities, Costa Vista comes with total connectivity, said Nate Philippsen, who is vice president of marketing for Sun Communities.

“With ethernet (service), streaming services, bluetooth-enabled vacation rentals, the large media display down at the pool, a sound system throughout the property; it’s really connected, which is what guests are looking for,” he said. “They want to get outdoors. They want to be with family and friends. But they want to stay connected at the same time.”

Costa Vista, a $55 million development that came with contributions to public infrastructure, represents a turning point for the broader Chula Vista bayfront, which is the 535-acre expanse perhaps best known for its long-gone power plant.

The Port of San Diego, which owns the land, has for years been working in concert with the city of Chula Vista to craft a new narrative for the coastal region, envisioning a world-renowned beach town as the ideal replacement for vacant and industrial property. The agencies went through a lengthy planning effort that culminated with the approval of the Chula Vista bayfront master plan in 2012.

The RV resort’s imminent opening is the best indication yet that the plan amounts to more than conceptual renderings and is, instead, rooted in real possibility.

Costa Vista RV stall
Costa Vista’s more traditional RV stalls include a patio with a fire pit, Adirondack chairs and a picnic table (not pictured).
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

“It’s incredible to see one of the very first projects of the bayfront master plan development come to fruition,” said Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos. “It’s a really balanced project. It delivers public access, low-cost accommodations and interaction with our national wildlife refuge.”

Castellanos also noted that the 49 park models — or the townhome-style units — will attract vacationers who might otherwise never consider staying at an RV park.

The vacation rentals, as Costa Vista calls them, come in two, equally sized models: One bedroom with a loft and two-bedroom. They are fully furnished, cabin-like units with separate kitchens and living areas, private decks and sleeping space for six, when including the pull-out couch. And the six cottages that dot the northwest periphery of the project come with rooftop porches that offer views of the Coronado Bay Bridge and downtown San Diego.

“I took my family on an RV trip for the first time in the fall. We didn’t stay anywhere like this,” Castellanos said. “This is something of a different magnitude.”

Costa Vista vacation rental
The project’s 49 vacation rentals are fully furnished with a full-size refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, coffeemaker, cookware, and dinnerware. They can sleep up to six guests in one- or two-bedroom models and are pet-friendly.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Sun Communities was selected by the port to develop the RV park through a competitive bidding process. The Michigan-based limited liability community entered into a 66-year lease agreement with the government agency in September 2019, committing to $15 million in offsite improvements. The firm will pay rent as a percentage of gross revenue starting in year five of the lease.

With its April debut, Costa Vista is the first in a series of Chula Vista bayfront projects, including public parks and a beautified beach, that are on the horizon. Next up is groundbreaking for the Gaylord Pacific Resort and Convention Center, which is anticipated later this year. The $1.1 billion project, approved in 2018, will introduce a 1,600-room hotel and convention center on a 36.5-acre site near H Street. The project is being built by Houston-based RIDA Development, with Chula Vista and the port on the hook to contribute $328 million in public funds.


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