One of the perks of the job of being editor of Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations is getting acquainted with new motorhomes and caravans, alongside exploring Aotearoa. Lisa Potter shares her most recent road trip.
If there’s one thing in particular Italy is renowned for, it’s a sophisticated but understated aesthetic. While many try to replicate this, there’s something inherently effortless about the Italian eye for design that’s truly unique.
While I may not have had the time to enjoy a vacanza in Italy, I was fortunate to indulge in a recent long weekend getaway in the Laika Ecovip, an elegant four-berth motorhome exuding that special Italian flair.
It wouldn’t be fair to class this as a camping trip, as the experience was more akin to staying in a cosy Italian apartment, complete with top-of-the-line luxury workmanship, the latest technology, and curvaceous interior design, all beautifully presented with sophisticated finishing touches.
Having opted for the Laika Ecovip L-3019 from RV Super Centre, which affords the flexibility of two single beds (that can also become one large shared bed), as well as an electric drop-down bed, there was no shortage of options when it came to sleeping arrangements. Even Goldilocks would have been spoilt for choice.
From first introductions, everything about the Laika Ecovip experience was seamless. Driving in rush hour out of Auckland city, which is often teeth-grindingly stressful, on this occasion proved remarkably straightforward (the 2.3-litre Fiat Ducato drives and handles surprisingly like an agile car, despite the Laika’s seven-metre length).
Heading for the black sands of Raglan, not even the winding roads, parts of which are in the final stages of repair from Cyclone Gabrielle, offered up any sort of motoring challenge.
Boasting a nine-speed auto transmission, with all the bells and whistles (ESC, ABS, ASR, Hill Holder, traction control, etc.), it was a particularly relaxing journey.
The nine-speed transmission allows for a lower rate of RPM at cruising speeds, which also results in a more economical drive, and these days, fuel efficiency is a definite bonus.
With our first night booked on private land overlooking Raglan Harbour, our only company was an abundance of tūī flitting about the flax bushes and gorging on sweet treats. It was the perfect accompaniment for such a lavish motorhome experience. Courtesy of careful planning (and a little early shopping at Raglan Wharf), just minutes after arriving, we were enjoying a smooth Raglan Roast coffee in newly purchased Tony Sly pottery espresso cups.
It was the perfect start for a weekend themed around extreme comfort and relaxation. The spaciously inviting lounge/dining area also turned out to be the perfect spot to curl up with a book and soak in the ocean views. With height-adjustable headrests and removable ergonomic backrests, there was no need to move in search of a more comfy perch.
The height-adjustable swivel cab seats doubled as a lounge chair, with armrests, proving the perfect spot to balance a steady supply of biscotti.
While on the topic of dining, there’s another thing Italians value and love: good food. With this in mind, the superbly designed kitchen, although compact, includes a generous 140-litre three-way fridge with a 15-litre freezer, an oven/grill and three hob stove top. It’s all smartly designed and presented. There’s even a vent on the rangehood, perfect for preparing authentic Italian pasta (which, of course, we did, opting for homemade spaghetti bolognese on our first night).
After such an indulgent day and evening, the allure of an early night was too much to resist, and so the perfect day (la Dolce Vita) was completed with a sound night’s sleep in the ergonomic (plus high comfort, anti-mite and breathable) mattresses.
The crowning glory was the skylight, both for a view of the night sky and extra ventilation. The Laika Ecovip, in fact, boasts three skylights in total, part of the reason it appears so light and welcoming from the first step inside.
This spacious feel is further enhanced by the XL entry door, complete with double-step entry (framed by creamy leather, chrome, craftsman-like walnut-look wood finishing and a conveniently placed mirror). There’s also a shoe locker immediately inside the entrance for tidy footwear storage and two hooks for coats. There’s something deeply satisfying about these thoughtful design components that ensure everything can be neatly stowed away.
A weekend of delights
With a full timetable planned visiting Raglan’s numerous art galleries and studios, as well as sampling fresh fish (Raglan Fish), a tasty side trip to Mexico (Casa Loco food truck) and working
our way through the sophisticated menu at ISO Café Bistro, where the Cocktail Lounge was also well worth staying to experience, we settled in for the next couple of nights at the bustling Raglan Holiday Park. Surrounded almost entirely by water along the peninsula in Raglan Harbour, it was a full house for the weekend, but thanks to the reversing camera, we managed to back into the last remaining site.
With everything required for a busy weekend easily stowed away in the spacious garage, including two large e-bikes, it only took a matter of minutes to set up camp and then it was back to a little more relaxation before exploring.
Not even a brief rain shower could dampen the spirits, and with the garage doubling as drying space for wet gear, it took no time to get back to an orderly lifestyle.
The Laika Ecovip is truly geared for a fuss-free living experience. Everything has its own place, there’s no shortage of storage (including in the floor), and that smart Italian design is evident in every component, from the woodgrain materials and restful tones used to discretely placed mood lighting throughout.
Of course, no motorhome experience is complete without that small but essential wet room. This is definitely one area where not all motorhomes are created equal. Once again, the state-of-the-art design comes to the fore in this tidy space, with a split bathroom (a shower to the left and toilet cubicle to the right). Better yet, the bathroom converts into an ensuite and also allows for complete privacy, if preferred, by closing the swinging wall between the shower and toilet.
A journey enjoyed
Having such a luxurious motorhome to stay in made our three-day sojourn feel like the next best thing to a quick getaway to Italy (minus the jetlag). It also inspired us to take some moments to just enjoy our surroundings and immerse ourselves in the experience of a home away from home. Both Raglan and the Laika Ecovip turned on all the charm necessary to create some lifelong memories. Dolce Vita – it’s all about living the good life. And where better to do it?